Verse 26 of Luke chapter one begins ” in the sixth month,” which refers to the time following Elizabeth’s conception of John the Baptist. Note that the description of Nazareth’s location by Luke is further evidence of his intended Gentile audience. Any Jew would know very well where Nazareth was. The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a virgin named Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph, of the house of David. Betrothal in those days was nothing like the sense in which we imagine such a term. Rather, it was a negotiated agreement that was binding upon both the bride and the groom to the extent that they were legally and religiously married in all respects – except that of living together.
Gabriel told Mary, who did not “know a man,” that she would bear a son by the power of the Holy Spirit and the “Most High” (verse 35), and name Him Jesus. This reference to God as “Most High” (Elyon, used seven times in Luke) is seen first in Genesis 14:18-20 when Abram met Melchizedek, and was used quite often thereafter – seen often in the Psalms, Numbers 24:16, and Daniel 3:26, and 4:24,34. He also told her some very important things about Jesus: 1) that He will be called holy – the Son of God, 2) that God will give Him the throne of David, his father, from which He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and 3) that of His kingdom there shall be no end. Before he left, Gabriel told Mary of the pregnancy of her elderly relative, Elizabeth, which was his offering of a sign for Mary’s encouragement in what he had told her.
Mary went to see her relative, and when she arrived, we are told that Elizabeth’s baby (who was filled with the holy Spirit) leaped for joy in her womb at the presence of the Lord – providing yet another affirmation for the Christian of the sanctity of life in the womb. Mary stayed with her for about three months before returning home. Verses 47-55 contain Mary’s song – a psalm of praise to God that has come to be known at the “Magnificat” – a title which comes from the Latin translation.
Side note: In verse 39, when Mary went to see Elizabeth, the text says that she went “into the hill country to a town in Judah.” We do not really know where in that area it actually was, but traditional belief widely held is that the home of John the Baptist was in Ein Karem, about 5 miles west of Jerusalem. There is an interesting article with some pictures of the area in this feature at Ferrell’s Travel Blog.
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.