Advent 2017: Joy to the World

Day 19: Mary Visits Elizabeth

Luke 1:39-55, Genesis 25:21-26, John 4:24


I think Handel’s Messiah is one of the greatest pieces of music ever composed. Written as a three-part redemptive history, from Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming Redeemer to the reign of Christ, Handel captured the magnificence of what we celebrate during Advent. It should come as no surprise that this makes for some of the most beautiful and majestic songs ever composed.

One such song is that which Mary sings when she is with her cousin Elizabeth.

What would compel a pregnant teenage girl to make an arduous journey in order to stay with her older cousin? Perhaps her parents felt shame in having her in the town where they lived. After all, their neighbors would surely conclude that she had fallen into immorality. Or, maybe she just wanted to talk to someone who could relate to carrying a mysteriously conceived child (Luke 1:5-25). Whatever the case, the mother of the Savior went to be with Elizabeth, and the trip resulted in a magnificent composition called “The Magnificat.”

Mary, unlike Zechariah (Luke 1:20), believed the word of the Lord that came to her through the angel Gabriel. She took God at His word when He told her that she, though a virgin, would conceive and bear a son. Elizabeth also believed, and gave God great glory for this indescribable gift.

When Mary entered Elizabeth’s home, the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth as well as her unborn son—John, the forerunner and herald of the Messiah. The babe leapt in her womb when he heard Mary’s greeting. News of the Redeemer should cause our hearts and bodies to rejoice.

That’s when Mary broke out into song, praising God for the salvation that He was bringing to her (v. 46) and to all people (vv. 50; 55-56). Like Handel’s Messiah, there is a three-part division to the Magnificat. Mary gives us an anatomy of God—that which God considers with His eyes (v. 48), what He does with His arm (v. 51) and what he declares with His mouth (v. 55). She acknowledged what the birth of the Savior meant to her personally (vv. 46-50); what it meant for all mankind, regardless of social status (vv. 51-53); and what it meant for the covenant people of God (vv. 54-55).

As we receive the truth about Christ from the mouth of God in Scripture, may we, too, rejoice and sing His praises. May we meditate on all that God has done and is doing. And may we apply these truths to ourselves, acknowledging what they mean for all mankind—specifically, what they mean for the covenant people of God.

Written by Nick Batzig