Dec 19 2021 The Prophetic Voice of Mary
19th December 2021
Luke 1: 39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
This Advent narrative will focus on the connections between Mary and Elizabeth and Jesus and John. Mary and Elizabeth share many spiritual qualities. We see a connection between Jesus and John even pre-birth – John leaps in her womb when Mary arrives.
John is mentioned 7 times. 7 is often used as a number of completion – when Biblical authors put things in the narrative seven times, they are saying this person is significant – Pay attention to this!
There is this design theme throughout the Bible.
Genesis 1 – Creation – And the earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, let there be light.
Darkness – Spirit over it – Light
The Spirit is involved in bringing forth light and life.
1:79 – light coming into darkness through the life of this new creation Jesus.
From Elizabeth – the filling of the Spirit was a sudden and immediate thing. This was connecting Elizabeth to the prophets of the Old Testament. A prophetic word would come as the Spirit came upon people so He could speak through the prophet as a mouthpiece. They did not yet have the Spirit living inside them, Jesus had to die for that to happen.
We hear a prophetic voice through 2 women. This is not a coincidence that in the Advent story – we have the silent voices of 2 men. Zacharias was struck mute! Joseph is not heard from. Zacharias couldn’t speak because of unbelief – but Joseph had silent obedience. This is especially seen in Luke – the gospel of the lowly – the poor – the marginalized – those who don’t have – and women would fit in with that. And in Luke’s gospel, women are the predominant heroes of the story. Yes, there are some men – but the focus is on those who have little status.
Mary and Elizabeth are both prophets and they are both theologians – they have an amazing understanding of the Old Testament. They studied and understood scripture.
42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
Her first prophetic word is about Mary. She proclaims that Mary will play this massive role in the history of redemption. It is through her child that the world will be redeemed and saved.
Another prophetic word – this time about Jesus:
43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
Mother of my Lord – Elizabeth is the first human to call Jesus Lord! She understood who He was – she understood that the baby in Mary was a miracle – and something very different – (more than just the old-age miracle of her own!). Jesus was the promised descendant and Elizabeth understood that.
And this is Elizabeth’s question of Advent:
43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
This is actually a question of understanding – not one of doubt. It is also a question of humility – Who am I, that you would come to me?
She realizes she is unworthy of such grace!
44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.
From here on out, Luke will emphasize the word JOY in the Advent story. And this connects John and Jesus – even in the womb. He knows and is excited! They are NOT rivals! It might have been easy for them to be rivals! But John later said – He must increase but I must decrease! And he learned that from his mom! Who am I?
45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."
She has lived with silence for 6 months – So she was really glad that Mary had believed!
We can’t disparage Zach – we have all been there in our unbelief! Even all the disciples were rebuked time and again.
Let’s look at how we can develop faith and overcome doubt as seen in this story.
First – God is the initiator of faith. God comes to each individual who has faith and speaks His word to them. Because of that, they believed!
Hebrews says that Jesus is the Author and Perfector of our faith. Faith can only exist in response to God’s initiative.
Now, I think one of the reasons we struggle developing our faith – we are trying to believe God to do stuff that God never initiated! We come up with our own dreams, visions, and plans, and dump them on God and say – O God! Do this! But He has never been in that! He is wanting to do something else.
Churches and pastors are notorious for this! Coming up with our own plans and then being angry for God at something He never initiated.
In order to grow in our faith, we must learn to listen to and discern God’s voice. It was a little easier for them, as an angel came directly to them. For us, it is in relationship with Him – God wants to speak to us – but we don’t always put ourselves in a position to hear. We are too busy to hear sometimes. We need to learn to listen to God. So often, for me at least, it is a one-way conversation – I tell Him what I want.
Ecclesiastes – draw near to God to listen – not as the fool who just speaks.
We need to take some time of silent – learning to quiet down – or as the great theologian, Chris Bernhart said – Shut up and know that I am God!
And then – Time reading the word. So often we do it because we think we’re supposed to – but we need to do it contemplating the scripture – Scriptural meditation – so God can speak. Okay – you got through your chapter – did God say anything?
I think one hindrance – we listen to the voices of people so much that we don’t have time to listen to the voice of God. And I don’t mean just unchristian people – sometimes we listen to Christians so much that we don’t have time to listen to God.
Let me say – Christian Media – in all its forms – is a blessing – and all of us have been blessed – you don’t just get to hear one sermon a week or just listen to worship music everyday – and that is a blessing – and also a curse! First, there is a lot of strange stuff in Christian media. And there is also a lot of good stuff that can be a problem. We tend to go to a Christian media silo – we find that Christian media that agrees with us and then listen to it all the time – and then we confuse that with the voice of God. We believe we are hearing God – and sometimes that could be the case – but sometimes it is not.
We definitely need to hear from Christians that challenge us. Maybe what you have always thought is not what you should be thinking. You start reading Scripture and you think – gosh, all this time, I have had this wrong! That is the case for me!
Luke 1:46 46 And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices (supreme JOY) in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
Mary is a theologian! It is like she has the entire scope of the narrative of the story of God’s redemption – piling it in! She quotes verse after verse and makes allusion to such – and it is amazing how much scripture she piles into a 1.5 minute speech! She is also a practical theologian! Grace/favor – on the lowliness of His servant – she understands that God gives His grace to those who don’t deserve it. Lowly speaks of status and position in the world – but it also shows Mary’s humility.
51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
This is Mary’s prophetic word against the political and religious leaders of her day – the powerful – the thrones – this is courageous – a 14-15 year old young woman calling out the leaders of the world! Absolutely fearless and radical – and she is speaking of a great reversal – this is a prophetic word against the powerful, the rich, those in charge.
In the garden of Eden, Mary recognized that the world was turned wrong-side-up. The powerful and wealthy – that was never God’s plan – and Jesus would turn the world right-side-up – with emphasis on the lowly and poor.
Luke’s gospel is the gospel to the poor, marginalized – those left out –
Interestingly – who is this written to? The most excellent Theophilus – excellent is used ONLY to denote the wealthy and one of great status. People of influence and status are coming into the church. This guy is probably a patron, funding Luke’s ministry – and you see stories of the rich man and Lazarus. Matthew – Blessed are the poor in spirit. Luke? Blessed are the POOR. WHOA (cursed) are the rich!
He comes right out and says it.
Then she closes off:
54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever." 56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
I think the final thing we see with Mary – this is not about her! She turns it all to the people. She is just one of the people God is using in this story. She needs no recognition or praise – she is just a lowly servant of God.
I am going to read – to close us off – the Christmas story found in the book of Revelation! I’m sure you all knew it was in here! I think it is one of the better ones.
Revelation 12:1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2 and she was pregnant and she *cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.
The Red Dragon, Satan
3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven crowns. 4 And his tail *swept away a third of the stars of heaven and hurled them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her Child.
The Male Child, Christ
5 And she gave birth to a Son, a male, who is going to [a]rule all the [b]nations with a rod of iron; and her Child was caught up to God and to His throne. 6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she *had a place prepared by God, so that there [c]she would be nourished for 1,260 days.
What John does – He takes the entire story of history and condenses it into 6 verses. Everything that matters is in those 6 verses. When we think of Christmas – you probably don’t want to make a manger scene with a red dragon – that might be a little on the weird side – but it was all about Jesus coming to destroy the enemy – to win the victory – to put down – to change and transform everything in the world.