Sermon: Two Covenants Collide (Luke 1:39-45)

Two Covenants Collide

Luke 1:39-45 (ESV)

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 ex claimed 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.”

Introduction

In this text of Scripture we have an amazing event taking place.  This meeting of these two expectant women is more than a meeting to speak to each other about babies kicking and moving about.  It’s more than a meeting to discuss the issues of pregnancy.  It is an amazing prophetic, Holy Spirit empowered declaration that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.  Not only do we see Mary and Elizabeth coming together for fellowship and comfort but we see our Lord and John the Baptist meeting for the first time even before they’re born.  In this meeting, or as it’s been called by the church through the centuries, The Visitation, we see the meeting of the Old Testament or Old Covenant with the New Covenant.  This meeting by these two women is a providential coming together.  Their meeting is a God ordained meeting.  The angel practically extends the invitation for Mary to go see Elizabeth.  Many things happen in these few verses.

As Ligon Duncan has so well said,

In the old covenant the Messiah is prophesied. Every old covenant prophet essentially has this message: God will send His Son into this world to bear the penalty for the forgiving of your sin. Every old covenant prophet ultimately had that message, and John was going to be the very last prophet who would ever speak that message.

And here in Elizabeth’s house, the last prophet of the old covenant with that message will meet the one about whom that message had been given, the Messiah. And so the old covenant and the new covenant meet in Elizabeth’s house.—L. Duncan (from a sermon on the same text)

1. A God Ordained Meeting (Luke 1:39-40)

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.

Luke wants us to understand that in the days that Mary received the angel’s message she went immediately to see her cousin.  Again, Mary’s faith is seen and shown to us as a model to be followed.  She didn’t wait around; she arose and went with haste.

How long does it normally take before you follow God’s Word and do what He has for you to do?  Do you wait?  Do you hesitate?

Mary had a very strong and unwavering faith, one that believed God no matter what.

The angel Gabriel had told Mary about her Cousin Elizabeth’s supernatural pregnancy and Mary went with haste to see this great miracle for herself.

Can you think of another example in the Book of Luke where this same phrase is used?

Luke 2:16 (ESV)

And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

For both Mary and the Shepherds, their going with haste to see what was told to them was not with the attitude of, well, I don’t know if the angel can be trusted so I’d better go and see for myself. No!  It is the attitude that, this is too great a miracle not to see and stand in awe of, I have to go.

One ancient version (Ethiopic) says that Mary left that same day.  But we’re not told for sure but it would stand to reason and it would coincide with the haste of the shepherds going that very night.

We’re told Mary went to find Elizabeth.  She traveled about 100 miles south to the hill country of Judah.  This would be about a five day journey.  This would also be an amazing trip for a young girl of 13-14 years of age.

She found Zechariah’s house knocked on the door and entered to greet Elizabeth who was six months pregnant, just as the angel said.

So sometime between the angel’s announcement and Mary arriving at Elizabeth’s house she was, in fact, with child by the Holy Spirit.

2. A Spirit Filled Meeting (Luke 1:41)

[41] And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,

We don’t know whether Elizabeth saw Mary at first, or just heard her voice.  She may have been working around the house or in another room when Mary gave her greeting.  Hello, Elizabeth, it’s your cousin Mary are you home?

But however it was, Luke tells us that Mary’s voice had an affect on the baby Elizabeth was carrying.

The Bible tells us that the baby leaped in her womb.  skirta,w skirtao {skeer-tah’-o} Leaped for joy.  This was a Holy Spirit moment in the lives of these women and their babies.

This leaping is a prophetic leaping.  It is something that God’s people had been waiting on for centuries.

What do I mean?

The last utterance by any prophet came from the mouth of Malachi.  He was the last prophet before the 400 years of silence.  The people would have read this text and waited for an amazing event.  At the announcement and birth of Jesus there would be so much joy that God’s people would leap for joy like a calf comes out of the pen.

Malachi 4:1-6 (ESV)

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.  [2] But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.  [3] And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

[4] “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

[5] “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.  [6] And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Malachi also tells us that Elijah will come to prepare the way for the Messiah.  [6] And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers,

Do you remember what Gabriel said John the Baptist would do?

Luke 1:16-17 (ESV)

And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,  [17] and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

We also see Gabriel’s prophecy coming true…

Luke 1:15 (ESV)

for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

John the Baptist would spend the rest of his life leaping for joy at the ministry of his Lord.  He would fulfill his role as the forerunner and the people would be ready to hear the message of Jesus Christ.

Let’s fast forward to the end of John’s ministry.

John 3:25-30 (ESV)

Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification.  [26] And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”  [27] John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.  [28] You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’  [29] The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.  [30] He must increase, but I must decrease.”

The voice of Jesus’ mother Mary caused John to leap for joy even in the womb.  At the sound of Jesus’ voice years later, John was still leaping for joy.

Does the thought of Jesus Christ cause you to rejoice?  One day, we will hear Him and see Him face to face and the Holy Spirit residing in us will cause our hearts to rejoice greatly and even cause us Baptists to leap for joy at the presence of Jesus Christ.

When John heard the voice of Mary he leaped within the womb in such a way that Elizabeth knew the prophecy told to her by the same angel would come true.

3. Elizabeth’s Proclamation (Luke 1:42-44)

[42] and she ex claimed 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.

Notice with me that the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son.  Once Elizabeth is filled with the Spirit she begins glorifying the Son.  She did not deduce this from logic but was given this knowledge through the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

Elizabeth translates the baby’s leaping into theology—Alistair Begg

Notice that Elizabeth through the power of the Holy Spirit prophecies that the child being carried by Mary was indeed her own Lord and Savior.  This intimate and vital knowledge came about through the power of the Holy Spirit.

She uses the Name Lord to show Jesus’ deity.

Luke’s Gospel is filled with examples of different people using the title Lord.  In the first two chapters alone it is used over twenty times to denote deity.  When Elizabeth uses this name for Jesus she is clearly showing us this Baby being carried by Mary is God.

In ancient days, the greatness of a mother’s child often determined a woman’s status.

John MacArthur comments,

In Hebrew culture, a woman’s status was based to a great extent on her children; her significance was directly tied to their significance.—MacArthur (Commentary pg.71)

The bottom line is that Mary is the most blessed of all women because she would bear the greatest of all children, Jesus.

4. Mary’s Belief (Luke 1:45)

[45] And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Luke again highlights Mary’s unwavering faith in what God spoke to her through the angel.  She believed and continues to believe all that she heard.

One reason Elizabeth declares that Mary is blessed is because of her faith.  Luke stresses this as well.

The Lord spoke through the angel and Mary believed and she was blessed.  The Word of God came to her audibly that day through the angel and Mary heard and Mary believed every word.

What about us?  Do we believe when God speaks to us?  Now, you might say, I’ve never heard God and I didn’t think God spoke audibly anymore. You would be right…but God still speaks.  We have His authoritative Word recorded for us in the Scriptures.  What the Bible says, God says.  You may also think that if I actually heard God speak it would carry more weight or you would be more inclined to hear and obey, but listen to the Apostle Peter speak to us on this matter…

He was up on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus that day.  Jesus revealed His true nature and His true glory radiated from His body.  Peter heard God speak and declare, this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.

2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV)

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  [17] For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”  [18] we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.  [19] And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,  [20] knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  [21] For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Just as surely as Peter heard from God that day we too hear from God every time His Word is opened and read.  Believe it or not, Peter said that the Prophetic Word is more sure.

Now, let’s look at something else.  How quick did Mary respond to the Word of God given to her from the angel? Mary arose and went with haste.

Our call today is to obey God’s Word with haste.  Do not reason your way through the Word of God when it comes to obeying it.  Do not sit around and contemplate and try to figure out all the details.  Obey with haste for the glory of God.

What would obedience to the Word of God look like for you?  Do it with haste.

For Mary in those days, it was God’s desire for her to go and be with Elizabeth and she went quickly.  We too must respond quickly.

In the process of obedience many generations have been blessed as we see the two covenants coming together in Christ.

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