Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Luke 1:39-45, 56

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

The Original Intent

1) What motivated Mary to visit her friend and relative, Elizabeth? (verses 39-40)

The first priority in answering any question in Scripture is to read the surrounding verses, sometimes even chapters, to gain a base understanding for the context of the passage. If we miss the context and its intended meaning, we will most likely miss proper application, which skews God’s Word for us!

The gospel author, Luke, provides the context for Mary’s visit earlier in chapter 1 verses 5-25. In this passage, we are told Elizabeth has experienced a miraculous pregnancy as well! We can imagine that one of the reasons Mary sought out Elizabeth was for support in pregnancy; what a special season for friends to walk through together! They could empathize with each other about all the weird looks and whispers of disbelief as well as encourage each other through all the ups and downs. 

Another possible motivation for her visit was to rejoice together. The two of them had a unique perspective on God’s faithfulness and how He was fulfilling His promises. What a privilege for these friends to share this experience together.

The Everyday Application

1) What motivated Mary to visit her friend and relative, Elizabeth? (verses 39-40)

According to a global survey by statistia.com, 33% of adults experience feelings of loneliness. Feeling lonely is complicated, isn’t it? We might feel isolated or disconnected. From my personal experience, it feels lousy. 

We were designed to have a relationship with our Creator. “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

You have a standing invitation from the Lord to visit with Him, feast with Him, and enjoy His company. What might your motivation be for meeting with Him and building a deeper relationship? 

  • Would you praise and thank Him for what He is doing in and around your life?
  • Are you, or those around you, in need of encouragement or healing that you would bring those needs to Him?
  • Do you need to confess sin and receive forgiveness?

Consider God’s great love for you and His promise of salvation if we trust in Him. Each of us are destitute without the friendship of God for we are forever separated from Him by the vast chasm created by the death we have earned from even one, solitary sin. (Romans 6:23)

Yet, while we rebelled against the Lord, God sacrificed His son in our place. (Romans 5:8) He poured out on His Son the wrath that was rightly deserved on us. (Romans 3:25-26) Christ swallowed the whole of our sin, and because He was wholly without sin, God raised Him from the dead forever conquering the consequence of sin: Death and Separation from the God who desires friendship with us. (Romans 8:11)  

To come near and accept this gift of grace and love requires our recognition that we are indeed sinners and the desire to place our faith entirely on Christ to pay for our sin. Turn to the Lord, repent of your sin, be wrapped in the freedom of forgiveness, and let Him teach you the rhythms of His friendship! (Acts 16:31)

The Original Intent

2) What is the significance of Elizabeth’s response to Mary’s arrival? (verses 41-45)

As we read the narrative in Luke 1, the first sign of something uniquely special is happening is that the baby leapt in Elizabeth’s womb when she heard Mary’s voice. (verse 41) The Messiah’s presence was already being felt and made known by those around Him, and the response was JOY!

I hope you read #HisWordsBeforeMine from Luke 1, then you would know straight from the Lord that Someone Else was present when Mary (and unborn Jesus) arrived to see Elizabeth (and unborn John the Baptist): The Holy Spirit. “…Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit…” (verse 41) The Holy Spirit enabled her to speak the welcoming blessing of encouragement to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (verse 42)

How encouraging it must have been for Elizabeth and Mary to share these moments together. While they shared very unique pregnancies, they were knit together by the friendship of the Holy Spirit! He gave joyful evidence of the miracles involved in both of their pregnancies.

The Everyday Application

2) What is the significance of Elizabeth’s response to Mary’s arrival? (verses 41-45)

How do we respond to the work the Lord is doing in other peoples’ lives? Do we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our words in responding to others? Are we quick to celebrate with them, allowing the friendship of the Spirit to bind us together? “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” (Romans 12:15) Or, do we follow temptation’s pull and lean toward comparison and discontent, leading us eventually into bitterness and disunity? (James 4:1-2)

Being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-19) enables us to practice “one-anothers” like these:
“And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Let’s welcome one another in the joy of the Lord as we have opportunities! What a privilege it is to be connected as friends and sisters in the body of Christ through the binding friendship of the Holy Spirit! Ask Him right now to lead you into deeper friendship and extend it well to others!

The Original Intent

3) Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months. What might have been some of the reasons for the extended stay? (verse 56)

Our meticulous physician, Luke, recorded that Mary remained with Elizabeth for three months. Does that detail even matter? Why include something so minor? When we are tempted to gloss over something we see as insignificant or unimportant in Scripture, let’s remember that all of Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching our hearts to better know the Lord and be shaped into the image of His Son. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Romans 8:29)

One possibility is given to us in the beginning of Luke’s account, “So it also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable, Theophilus,  so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.” (Luke 1:3-4)

In his gospel, Luke usually gives us a detailed accounting. In this case, it seems he included that Mary stayed long enough to see Elizabeth give birth to John the Baptist, which was a fulfillment of God’s promise.

Practically speaking, it would have also been a time for Mary to care for Elizabeth during the last months of her pregnancy. Mary would have also gained spiritual insight and both practical and spiritual wisdom from Elizabeth about faith, obedience, and trust in the face of unexpected circumstances.

The Everyday Application

3) Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months. What might have been some of the reasons for the extended stay? (verse 56)

This verse highlights the importance of mutual Christian community and support during different seasons of life. Can you think of some benefits of having someone to walk alongside you during significant life transitions? What a comfort and encouragement the friendship of these women surely was to each of them!

Friendships are strengthened during those times when we provide emotional and practical support to one another, especially when our need is deep. We can send messages, deliver meals, or spend time together on a regular basis. The key is to be present in a meaningful, genuine way for each other. This is the heartbeat of God’s friendship with us as He sends His Spirit to comfort and guide His children at all times; never once does His Spirit leave a true believer! (John 14:26)

Another important aspect in a believer’s life is discipleship, which means teaching other believers to “grow up in maturity” in Christ. (Colossians 1:28-29) We need to be intentional in having relationships with other believers where spiritual growth and learning takes place. Who is mentoring you? Who are you mentoring? We can always be deepening and strengthening our faith through these connections!

Friendships bound together by the Spirit of God are special indeed! We are never alone!

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