Mary and Zechariah

MARY

Once again Christmastide comes on the scene, and once again Mary’s great speech will be overlooked by many churches. I see it as Mary being prophetic.

, “The Magnificat of Mary”, starts with her Praising God, her rejoicing in her savior. God took notice in her, a lowly village teenager, a nobody in a nowhere town, a place nothing more than a suburb of the great Capitol of Israel, a place we would call in today’s terms, the hicks, or the skids. God took notice of her and chose her to be the mother of Grace Incarnate. She knew that her son was the Son of the Most High, the Mighty One. She gives one line to her being blessed and being called blessed and that was in response to her cousin, Elizabeth’s greeting to her.

Exactly what is she saying in this brash proclaimed? I’m using the Jerusalem Bible.
vs 46-47: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exalts in God my Savior” If I had been told that my son was the Christ, I would be walking around in a daze. I can’t imagine what my wife would be doing. I know that when she heard that our son and daughter-in-law where expecting their son, she was in gaga-land. Her eyes were glazed over and she just sat there with a silly grin on her face eating candy all night. I wasn’t much better behaved. Yet, here a young girl is telling and elderly relative that her spirit is Loving God and Praising Him for the son that she is carrying. Every Jewish woman prayed that she would be the mother of the redeemer, the new king that would lead them to freedom, but Mary saw it as it was; HER Son was the Son of the Most High GOD.

vs 48a: “because he has looked upon his lowly handmaiden.” Most translations put this as a new sentence, but this translation uses it as the completion of the prior one. To me it makes more sense this way. Mary exalts God, because she is, in her mind, not worthy of this honor. You expect that the king would be born of a royal family, or at least one of the priestly line, or maybe a prominent person of Judea. But God chose her, a quiet girl from Bethlehem. God gives each of us that honor, we are chosen to carry Christ in our hearts. As born into Salvation by His Blood, Christ Lives within us so we can shout as did Mary, “I am blessed because God has looked with favor on His lowly one.” But look more closely at this verse; handmaiden in this verse is in the Greek the same word used for slave. It doesn’t mean virgin, bond servant or housekeeper, it means SLAVE.

vs 48b-49a: “Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.” I read this not as a boastful statement but , instead one of realization that she is not to be afraid of what people might say of her being pregnant. We know that she wasn’t properly wedded at this time, people were going to talk about her in a negative way, but now she realizes that she will be remembered as the mother of God. All will call her blessed even until the end of time. But because some people would elevate her to a place equal to God, other want to almost demonize her. But let us not forget, she WAS favored by God, She WAS chosen to be the mother of Jesus because of her virtue, she IS in Heaven and she is the only human that can call Jesus, “son”. God did do a might work in her, but we would treat her like a surrogate host rather that the most blessed woman in all history.

vs 49b-50:Holy is his Name,[] and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.[] Mary has the presence of mind to quote scripture in her excitement. She places all glory right back to God. She was afraid, but she was obedient, she was young, but she acted with the wisdom of ages. She knew that the child she carried was the Mercy of God and she was his mother.

vs 51: “He has shown the power of his arm, he has routed the pride of heart.”Now she is telling of what Jesus’ life will mean to the “rich and famous” of her society. The Power of God will be revealed in her son. The meaning of the prophets is being revealed to her and she now starts to prophecy.

vs 52-54: “He has pulled down princes[] from their thrones and exalted the lowly.[] The hungry he has filled with good things,[] the rich sent away empty. He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy.”[] Mary is mindful of dreams of the Jewish people. She knows what God can do. All of a sudden, she sees that the prophecies are about to be fulfilled. She sees that Israel will prosper, not as the way envisioned before but in the perception of God. Those who hunger for righteousness will be satisfied. Those who extort the word of God will be cast out and replaced by those who are mindful of God’s mercy. God will help those who truly love Him to lifted up and then Israel will be the servant of His Grace.

vs 56:“-according to the promise he made to our ancestors- of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.” Mary qualifies her proclamation with the promise guaranteed by God to Abraham. This little girl is telling the wife of a high priest, that God is finally fulfilling His Promise to redeem the people of Israel. The Chosen of God will see their Rescuer an the person of her son, Jesus who is to be called the Son of God, Son of Man.

ZECHARIAH

Zechariah, three months later was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied about his son.
Backtracking a little bit, we find in 2 that Zechariah was visited by a messenger of God, e.i. an angel, and told that his wife, Elizabeth, would have a son and he was to name him John. What I saw with this event was the similarity of God’s pronouncement to Abraham. Both men were righteous before God, both were men of Faith yet both questioned God’s ability to work miracles in their individual lives. The wonderful connection of these two men, was that they gave seed to the Promise. Abraham fathered a nation to fulfill the covenant of God, and Zechariah fathered the Messenger of the Promise Made Flesh!

Zechariah was struck dumb, unable to speak one word because of his doubt. But when his son was born and he wrote down his name, God released the voice with in him. The Holy Spirit spoke to the people gathered for the ceremony of circumcision and naming where filled with wonder that he could speak again, but what he said was even a greater wonder.

is that speech. Because it is so long, I write write them down but ask that you read them as I tell of their meaning to me. Zachariah begins with the prophecy that God has already redeemed His people, He says, “He has come,” The Horn of salvation has been raised, and now the walls of repression will be brought down. The walls of spiritual repression are destroyed. He knows this because from the house of David has produced the Messiah. The prophets of old have foretold of this. Zachariah knows that in this age, God’s Mercy will be revealed, the covenant will be remembered and the promise -the oath- will be kept. We will be rescued from the hands that hate us (because we love God) and we will be able to SERVE God without fear. We will be able to serve in Holiness and Righteousness ALL our days.

Can you envision the reaction of these friends and relatives when they heard these words. Salvation has come! The Seed of Jesse, Christ the Rescuer, the Healer of the Land is about to come in their midst. But Zachariah says to be free to be Holy and with right living. To Serve God without fear. This is not an excuse to return to neglectful ways but to Praise and Honor our Covenant with God. Put away the ways that have separated us from God’s Grace and open up our lives to serve with love.

More astonishing is the pronouncement that this son of his, John is the prophet of the Most High; The one to pave the way and open the road for Salvation to walk. This little baby John will become the one to tell of the forgiveness and mercy of God that is to come. this son, John, will prepare the way for the Rising Sun that will shine on those living in fear in the darkness of the world and to those hiding from the shadow of death. I see death here as representing evil rather than a physical death.

The one who is to come will guide our hearts, minds and souls into the Path of Eternal Peace. Peace that passes all understanding of men. Peace that quiets the soul and livens the Spirit. John will bring the message to repent and to empty ourselves before God, to wash away the dirth of sin and the death stench of our transgressions.

Zachariah foretold of these things and reiterated the teachings of the prophets. As a high priest, he knew the scriptures, but the Holy Spirit revealed to him that the would be fulfilled by his son. All this took place six months before the birth of Jesus. We don’t know if Elizabeth ever told him that her cousin Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah. We don’t know if Jesus and John ever talked as children or even met until that day by the river Jordan. We only know that John’s ministry started some time before Jesus left home.

What we do know is that Mary know who her son was and that Zachariah knew what his son would do.


Listen

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
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 mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” (ESV)


Listen

He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name! (ESV)


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17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children, (ESV)


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12 Wisdom is with the aged,
and understanding in length of days. (ESV)


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11 he sets on high those who are lowly,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety. (ESV)


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For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (ESV)


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He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God. (ESV)


Listen

Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 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. 16 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.”

18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed [1] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” [2] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” [3]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born [4] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant [5] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

39 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 exclaimed 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 [6] a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
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 mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

68 “Blessed be 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,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us [7] from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when [8] Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, [9] who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” [10]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant [11] depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. [12] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents [13] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” [14] 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature [15] and in favor with God and man. (ESV)

Footnotes

[1] 1:27 That is, legally pledged to be married
[2] 1:28 Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women!
[3] 1:34 Greek since I do not know a man
[4] 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you
[5] 1:38 Greek bondservant; also verse 48
[6] 1:45 Or believed, for there will be
[7] 1:78 Or when the sunrise shall dawn upon us; some manuscripts since the sunrise has visited us
[8] 2:2 Or This was the registration before
[9] 2:5 That is, one legally pledged to be married
[10] 2:14 Some manuscripts peace, good will among men
[11] 2:29 Greek bondservant
[12] 2:37 Or as a widow for eighty-four years
[13] 2:48 Greek they
[14] 2:49 Or about my Father’s business
[15] 2:52 Or years


Listen

58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

68 “Blessed be 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,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us [1] from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (ESV)

Footnotes

[1] 1:78 Or when the sunrise shall dawn upon us; some manuscripts since the sunrise has visited us

One thought on “Mary and Zechariah”

  1. Good morning Paul, I enjoyed your web site this morning,and feel very blessed,by your article on Mary, thank you. We love you brother. Richard and Ruth. See you in church.

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