Red Letter Year: 6/18

Luke 1:39-56

39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

46 Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.

47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!

48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed.

49 For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.

50 He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.

51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.

52 He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.

54 He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful.

55 For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.


Mary uses some strong language in her worship song. God’s mighty arm has scattered the proud and haughty. God has knocked over thrones and those who sit on them. God has emptied the bank accounts of the rich. God has shown mercy to the lowly. God has exalted the humble. God has given good things to those who had nothing. Sounds like a Robin Hood story. Sounds like the messianic expectations that Jesus refused to meet in Matthew. But it should also make you think of the Temple clearing we read recently (and a number of Psalms). Luke highlights Mary’s song at the very beginning of his Gospel, not to present misinformed messianic expectations, but to tell us at the very outset that this is what his Gospel is about – that this is an essential part of the kingdom Jesus inaugurates. Matthew told us the “poor in spirit” were blessed. Luke alters that to say the poor are blessed. This does not necessarily contradict Matthew, but it adds an important dimension to the overall Gospel of Jesus Christ that these four accounts together give us. Luke wants us to know that going in, he wants to put us on alert to be looking for this as we read. Mary’s worship song serves as Luke’s thesis statement.

The New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.