Readings in the Common Worship Lectionary:-
Micah 5. verses 2 - 5a: Hebrews 10. verses 5 - 10: Luke 1. verses 39 - 55
Remember that the scene of the action is a small “Judean town in the hill
country”. The home of Elizabeth and Zechariah was not in a big metropolis.
It was in a small rural community where everyone would know everyone
else’s business! No T.V., i-pads or i-phones for communication, only word of
mouth, local gossip:-
“Just fancy, Elizabeth expecting a baby at her age! Zechariah is getting on a
bit as well! I wonder how she’ll manage, I mean . . . . . .”
And into this “town in the hill country” comes Mary with the glorious
annunciation still ringing in her ears.
The angel Gabriel came to Mary in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.
And “In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the
hill country.” It reads as though she did not waste any time in going to talk to
with “aunt Elizabeth”. How she travelled we do not know, but it was a
journey of 50 to 60 miles from Nazareth, through Samaria and into Judea.
We can speculate about the relationship between Elizabeth and Mary! The
easiest answer is that Elizabeth was the sister of the mother of Mary.
Certainly not related on the men’s side, because Joseph was of the house of
David, whereas Zechariah was a Levite.
Certainly, when Mary heard what Gabriel had to say about Elizabeth, she
would realize that here was someone who would understand!
And so to our text:- Luke 1 verses 39 - 45
Here we find that, not only was Zechariah a prophet, so was Elizabeth! "When
Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth
was filled with the Holy Spirit . . . .”
What a blessing for Mary! The confirmation of the words of Gabriel comes
with Elizabeth’s salutation. This was not just a human reaction from aunt
Elizabeth. It was a reaction from the unborn baby. “As soon as I heard the
sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy.” The prophetic
work of the great Forerunner begins before he is born!
Elizabeth and the unborn John are the first to recognise the Lordship of the
child to be born of Mary.
And Mary’s response is the familiar Magnificat!
Mary would be familiar with scripture and it is natural that the
words of the “Song of Hannah” (see 1 Samuel chapter 2) would
come into her mind as the Holy Spirit caught up her and
Elizabeth in praise and worship. Two ordinary country women
who were blessed and used by the Lord God in His plan of
In the words of the Magnificat, we find once again, that the
coming of the Christ child was to be the fulfilment of the promise
made “to Abraham and his posterity for ever”. (verse 55). The
glory of the Lord was to be revealed. Not in works of power, but
in the birth of a child.
“When the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of
a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were born
under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
(Galatians 4, verses 4 - 5).