We are now back to our Advent story — the coming of Jesus. Last week Luke recounted this supernatural meeting that was between Gabriel and Mary. He gave some staggering, life altering news.The messiah is coming. Sounds like an advertisement for a movie— But definitely not to a theater near you.
No Gabriel says — this Messiah — Jesus — God’s own Son is coming to your womb Mary. You unwed, insignificant girl, from an insignificant town. I mean if she wasn’t in such an overwhelmed state, she might have looked where Gabriel was pointing—- Oh, Oh, you mean, ME? Yet, she recognizes that this is no ordinary meeting — this is no trick being played on her.
For Behold — only God can make humanly outrageous promises and keep them.
“For nothing will be impossible with God!”
So — in between our passages the reality is implied — she wakes up the next day (we don’t know if Gabriel came at night or not — but she still wakes up, she’s human). Her mind is flooded with all those jaw dropping words of that scary blazing figure from God. I mean — wouldn’t you be thinking now — is all that real? So Mary in faith goes to the only other person that could give her human tangible confirmation: Her kinswoman Elizabeth. She was named by the Angel of being barren of advanced age yet with child in her 6 month —
So now Luke recounts what happens between the two promised children yet to be born. So yet — we ask:
What are we to behold?
What is different about this meeting? Those are the elements we will tease out — the important things we are to behold about these two unlikely mothers — Rather without God impossible mothers— and their meeting.
Though many of us have heard these stories many times in the past, let us saturate in the wonder — to literally Behold. Which is interesting, if you are using the NIV you probably didn’t see our little key word that we’re digging into this Advent season. I’m not sure why the NIV translators thought it best to leave out, but I assure you, it is in the Greek!
Let’s Read 1:39-41
The Divine Connection Between Two Mothers and Their Babies
I love how Luke recounts the quality in which she left —She left with haste — she is willing to be used by God — and WILL BE. But, there is excitement in confirmation of these wonders.
This little journey is no simple task — So often I skip over these scene changes within the biblical narrative without putting it into the context of the 1st century. It’s 80-100 miles — we don’t know specifically where in the Hill Country. Now that’s at least a journey of 3-4 days for a young woman — We’re not sure if she traveled alone — but that would add another element of gravity to this short journey that she decided to take.
I love how descriptive Luke is in the laying out the timing of simple events in this meeting — “As she entered the house of Zechariah” .So this is important — it is the very initial contact — what would anyone do — but greet the host of that house.
Just to give you context — take your mind off our house structures and see the simple middle eastern clay structure — probably around a courtyard — a family compound. Much like Haiti today — small dwellings centered around a common space. So more than likely she entered their family compound — and greeted Elizabeth by announcing her presence.
Then again Luke specifies the tiny details — When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary. So Mary Calls — and Elizabeth hears And BEHOLD (i added that) … The baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb! John the Baptist leaped when his mother heard Mary call out. Those two tiny seemingly insignificant events are linked.
You might be thinking, big deal — babies in utero move around a lot — But Luke wouldn’t have pinpointed this detail linking them together if they were not significant. Elizabeth hears — the baby leaps. This is not a casual coincidence. This is something special to behold.
For what comes next? And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Something out of the world happens now. Up until this point it’s been just a normal human narrative. These are things that happen in human reality. But now — we have a very specific link between mother hearing, baby leaping, and now a filling of the Holy Spirit. Luke is pointing out — remember the doctor — the detail oriented pragmatic guy — He is pointing out that indeed even between these two humans there is something special that God is directing. To go even further — to even wonder more at the working of God—The two unborn children within their (impossible without God) mothers have some sort of supernatural connection.
Which brings up our first point:
We are to behold that there is a divine connection between these two children.
We are to behold that in this narrative God’s hand is moving in miraculous ways to bring about His promises.
Luke will unfold more of this divine connection throughout his narrative, ultimately placing John the Baptist as the forerunner — the prophet in the wilderness preparing the way for Jesus the Messiah. But, now Luke focuses on the interaction between the two women.
The recognition of the filling of the Holy Spirit is important. These are words that are not Elizabeth’s on her own.
I love how this commentator leads into these words.
“If the child can do no more than jump for joy, his mother gives verbal expression to the significance of the scene, and for this purpose she receives prophetic inspiration from the Holy Spirit. She is thus ‘able to know the past and see what is hidden without anyone telling her, she knows what has happened to Mary.” 
Let’s continue on in the text: Read 1:42-44
To Be Both Human and Divine
So now — in overwhelming fashion we find the words that were inspired by the Holy Spirit. She speaks of the fact that Mary is blessed — not by her own character or personality —but from something (God) outside herself.
This word for Blessing is where we get our word eulogy — meaning to be blessed — something that is happening TO her. There has been no disclosure by Mary — but the Holy Spirit has revealed that there was a child to be born within Mary. Elizabeth doesn’t act shocked at her state, the pregnancy— rather she is shocked at the fact that she would be blessed with this meeting! The other thing to behold here — is that because Elizabeth has been granted this filling of the Holy Spirit — She also exclaims the greatness of the child within Mary.
The fruit of Mary’s womb — which you can be sure that Mary has told no one about — is blessed. This is something again that can only come from God’s handiwork. Then here comes the great disclosure: “That the mother of my Lord should come to me.” Right here, this is a major claim— Her Lord. Now this word can mean owner or ruler or master — but this is obviously a word from God — the disclosure — as well as the title.
An unborn child could it really be her master — I mean Mary had no special status — Why would Elizabeth refer to the unborn child as Lord? Like He will be greater in status than her. It could only mean that this One is “of God”. And many would have made that leap to equate that with YHWH. There is possession in this language — it is hers, and with no earthly status can only mean divine status.
Then we get our little word signaling alertness — Behold — Elizabeth reiterates and concludes that it was the Greeting from Mary that sparked the leaping child. This is something truly to behold — that this child is something different — something that is greatly blessed beyond regular human understanding. This little episode again points to the supernatural revealing of the fact that Elizabeth recognizes Jesus as the Messiah to come — That is why she refers to Him as “my Lord”. Without human disclosure, Elizabeth has just announced that Jesus will be her Lord. Her King — Her Master — ultimately her Messiah.
Yet the baby will be born of a human — Something divine, yet human.
Which brings us to the second point:
We are to behold the recognition of this child’s dual nature.
That’s why we say that Jesus is 2 natures, 1 person. This is an important doctrine that we believe. There is no confusion within Jesus — is divine — is he human. He is one person, 2 full natures — man and God. He is the Lord and He is baby born of Mary.
The great Athanasius spent much of his life writing apologetically to affirm this very truth — Succeeding in the Nicene Creed in 325. He wasn’t God with a human suit, or a good human so was granted God like abilities. No he was God-Man two distinct natures, but one unified person.
Just another human reality that is of importance to note is this:
“We should not miss the absence of all jealousy in Elizabeth’s attitude to Mary. The older woman, who had received such a signal blessing from the Lord, might well have tried to guard her position jealously. But in genuine humility she recognized the greater blessing God had given to Mary.”
This was a blessing to even be in the presence of her Lord — how could she be jealous?
Originating from God
Now this word blessed is a familiar word — it is the word makaria. Which is the same word Jesus used in the beatitudes. We translated that word as flourishing — So Mary’s ultimate flourishing is connected to her faith in God doing what God promised to do.
We are not looking to revere Mary for anything special that she is or that she has done to make her more worthy. No — she flourishes — she is blessed — because she trusts that God fulfills His promises. This is an all around state of well being — a wholeness — which is different than the bestowing of blessing from God as Luke noted earlier.
Schreiner puts it this way:
“Here Mary’s happiness and well-being and flourishing is tied to her faith. She is to put her trust in God’s word, in the promise conveyed to her by the angel Gabriel.”
Again, we are to behold the supernatural filling by the Holy Spirit to reveal all of this to Elizabeth — She didn’t know Mary was visited by God’s one of Valor — Gabriel to tell her just who this child was to be. But Elizabeth proclaims that this was all to be fulfilled as it was spoken to her by the LORD. By God. God fulfills His word. He keeps His promises.
I think the amazing thing here to Behold is:
We are to behold the origin of the entire prophetic event—God. God is moving. He has been “silent” for hundreds of years. And now — His plans are being enacted.
This is exciting good news —
this is joyous enough to leap for—
the messiah brings grace and salvation—
This news, this joy, this messiah has a name. Gabriel has already told us — it will be Jesus. This is all coming directly from God — enacting His will. He Himself coming as the fully divine God — born a man of Mary. These are indeed great, and miraculous events to Behold indeed.
But, I think we should take a couple concrete things away from this:
Take away – 1
We must recognize the importance of Jesus’ dual nature.
Take away – 2
We must acknowledge that God works to fulfill His purposes.
These events should make you scratch your head a little. They are literally not of this world. But, they are truth — they have been faithfully believed for thousands of years. These two women knew that the coming messiah was to be great, was to be the eternal king.
Mary finds true flourishing in the faith that she has in God keeping His promises.
So, will you mimic Mary’s example in this? Do you see the greatness, the supernaturalness of this narrative? Will you believe that God fulfills His promises?
That’s the offer — believing that God is who He says He is! That this unborn baby would grow and mature as a man — But this Jesus was not just man, He was God-Man. And His life, death, and resurrection was the mission of messiah. To bring Salvation — to offer Grace and Mercy.
Trust in Jesus — that His death was in your place for the penalty of yours and my sins. And exclaim like Elizabeth — my LORD! And follow Him with all your heart.
This is something to Behold — Two impossible without God mothers exclaiming the wondrous Advent of Immanuel. God with us. Behold — Jesus.
1Thomas R. Schreiner, ESV Expository Commentary Series: Luke, (Wheaton, IL : Crossway 2021), 739
2 I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1978), 80–81.
3 Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 92.
4 Thomas R. Schreiner, ESV Expository Commentary Series: Luke, (Wheaton, IL : Crossway 2021), 740