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Wednesday Bible Study
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
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Zacharias Ministers in the Temple

Luke 1:39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, :40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.

We are not told why Mary went to visit Elizabeth at this time. It may have been to avoid the scandal which would inevitably arise in Nazareth when her condition became known. If this is so, then the welcome given by Elizabeth and the kindness shown would have been doubly sweet.

Luke 1:41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, the babe leaped in her womb—a mysterious, involuntary response of the unborn forerunner to the arrival of the unborn Messiah. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, that is, He took control of her, guiding her speech and actions.

Three persons in chapter 1 are said to be filled with the Holy Spirit: John the Baptist (v. 15); Elizabeth (v. 41); and Zacharias (v. 67).

One of the marks of a Spirit-filled life is speaking in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:18, 19).

We are not surprised therefore to find three songs in this chapter, as well as two in the next. Four of these songs are generally known by Latin titles, which are taken from the first lines: (1) Elizabeth’s Salutation [1:42– 45]; (2) The Magnificat (it magnifies) [1:46–55]; (3) Benedictus (blessed) [1:68–79]; (4) Gloria in Excelsis Deo (glory to God in the highest) [2:14]; and (5) Nunc Dimittis (now You let depart) [2:29–32].

Luke 1:42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! :43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? :44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. :45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Speaking by special inspiration, Elizabeth saluted Mary as “the mother of my Lord.”

There was not a trace of jealousy in her heart; only joy and delight that the unborn baby would be her Lord. 

Mary was blessed among women in that she was given the privilege of bearing the Messiah. The fruit of her womb is blessed in that He is Lord and Savior.

The Bible never speaks of Mary as “the mother of God.” While it is true that she was the mother of Jesus, and that Jesus is God, it is nevertheless a doctrinal absurdity to speak of God as having a mother. Jesus existed from all eternity whereas Mary was a finite creature with a definite date when she began to exist. She was the mother of Jesus only in His Incarnation.

Elizabeth recounted the seemingly intuitive excitement of her unborn child when Mary first spoke. Then she assured Mary that her faith would be abundantly rewarded. Her expectation would be fulfilled. She had not believed in vain. Her Baby would be born as promised.

Luke 1:46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, :47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. :48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. :49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name.

The Magnificat resembles Hannah’s song (1 Sam. 2:1–10). First, Mary praised the Lord for what He had done for her (vv. 46b–49). Notice that she said (v. 48) “all generations will call me blessed.” She would not be one who conferred blessings but one who would be blessed. She speaks of God as her Savior, disproving the idea that Mary was sinless.

Luke 1:50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation. :51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. :52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. :53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. 

Secondly, she praised the Lord for His mercy on those who fear Him in every generation. He puts down the proud and mighty, and exalts the lowly and hungry.

Luke 1:54 He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, :55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

Finally, she magnified the Lord for His faithfulness to Israel in keeping the promises He had made to Abraham and to his seed.

Luke 1:56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

After staying with Elizabeth about three months, Mary returned to her own house in Nazareth. She was not yet married. No doubt she became the object of suspicion and slander in the neighborhood. But God would vindicate her; she could afford to wait.

Luke 1:57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. :58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

Luke 1:59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias.

Luke 1:60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”

Luke 1:61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” :62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.

Luke 1:63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. :64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. :65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea.

Luke 1:66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Luke 1:67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

Freed now from the fetters of unbelief and filled with the Holy Spirit, Zacharias was inspired to utter an eloquent hymn of praise, rich in quotations from the OT.

Luke 1:68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, :69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David,

Praise to God for what He had done. Zacharias realized that the birth of his son, John, indicated the imminence of the coming of the Messiah.

He spoke of Christ’s advent as an accomplished fact before it happened.

Faith enabled him to say God had already visited and redeemed His people by sending the Redeemer.

Jehovah had raised up a horn of salvation in the royal house of … David. (A horn was used to hold the oil for anointing kings; therefore it might mean here a King of salvation from the kingly line of David. Or it might be a symbol of power and thus mean “a powerful Savior.”)

Luke 1:70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, :71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us,

Praise to God for fulfilling prophecy. The coming of the Messiah had been predicted by the holy prophets … since the world began. It would mean salvation from one’s enemies and safety from foes.

Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 121). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr., MacDonald, Farstad, Believers Bible; Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2195). Nashville: Thomas Nelson