Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 4
Thesis: The "blessedness of exaltation by God" means that His love is being passed on to others.
Introduction: We are looking into the third conversation Luke recorded in his opening chapter to Theophilus. In our study last week we saw that there is a specific meaning to the idea of being "blessed". At root it means to be placed into the flow of the river of life. In this context, it means to be receiving from God an extraordinary status in the eyes of those who understand what status is. This morning we are going to look into Elizabeth's other utterance; the one that is a question. Why is it to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? In one sense, this question was ignored by Luke's record of Mary's response to Elizabeth. There is no "explanation" of Mary's decision to come to Elizabeth. But, in another sense, everything Mary had to say to Elizabeth was the answer to this question. In other words, if we have a legitimate understanding of "blessedness", we can easily see two things: 1) why Elizabeth asked the question in the first place; and 2) how Mary's words actually answer the question without the specific details.
March 21, 2004
- I. Why Did Elizabeth Ask the Question?
- A. It might be better to ask why Luke recorded the question.
- 1. In a sense, it would be a natural question to ask of someone who just showed up at your door one day.
- 2. The question then becomes, what did Luke see in the question that motivated him to record it when it is obvious from the text that there were tons of words of conversations that he did not see fit to record?
- B. Let's look at the question.
- 1. It was not simply curiosity based upon the fact that Elizabeth was "hiding" herself so that Mary could not, in the normal course of things, have had any inkling of what had happened to her.
- 2. The question has two emphases...
- a. The first is the "to me" emphasis.
- 1) Elizabeth manages to stick two "to me" phrases into one sentence.
- 2) The second phrase seems to be deliberately emphatic by reason of a switch from the normal pronoun to an emphatic pronoun.
- 3) This means that Elizabeth can't grasp Mary's appearance at her door as it relates to her own identity.
- a) We have to keep in mind that Elizabeth's personal grasp of her own identity is that she is an undeserving nobody...an identity reinforced in her daily life by everyone in her culture [Note Gabriel's identification of her in 1:36: "her that was called barren" refers to the many who "called" her such in light of the Deuteronomic Code which made "barrenness" a curse of God].
- b) This kind of "identity" automatically sets the stage for this question.
- b. The second is the "the mother of my Lord" emphasis.
- 1) By the Spirit, Elizabeth recognizes the extreme exaltation of Mary by God.
- 2) It is this extreme exaltation by God of Mary that, combined with Elizabeth's own "self-portrait", makes Elizabeth wonder out loud why Mary would be at her door.
- a) An equivalent illustration would be if King Solomon had shown up at the poverty stricken home of a toothless and ill old hag with his personal physician.
- b) Or, another illustration would be if the King of the Universe suddenly showed up in Jerusalem for the express purpose of being treated like a wicked criminal so that He could heal the sin-sickness of any who understood His character.
- C. Let's consider what is going on.
- 1. There is a problem with the vocabulary of mankind.
- a. Words are the smallest element in the process of communication.
- 1) As such, they have only a very small part to play in the expression of one person's meaning to another.
- 2) It is only as individual words are strung together with multitudes of other words that meaning is actually communicated from one person to another.
- b. The vocabulary of mankind has been twisted by the larger setting of humanity in its sin.
- 1) An example of this is the young man who wants to have sex with a girl and uses the words of "love" to attempt to entice her to let him have his way with her.
- 2) Another example is the one in our text where the issue is exaltation and the impact upon behavior that such a thing causes.
- a) In the realm of humanity, being "exalted" means traveling in the circles of the "great ones" and being exempt from having to deal with the needs of the "lower classes".
- b) This is why it is inconceivable to human beings that being "exalted" should mean a growing concern for the lowest of the low.
- i. This is at the heart of the unbelief of the arrogant who think that they are somebody and, being so, think that God has to be impressed by their identity.
- ii. This is also at the heart of the unbelief of the despairing who think that they are so "nothing" that the King of the Universe could not possibly have any interest in their plight.
- 2. There is another vocabulary: the words of God.
- a. The words are spelled the same as those of men; they sound the same; and they are strung together in sentences, paragraphs, and books like the words of men.
- b. But, they do not mean the same thing.
- 1) When God says "I love you" He is not trying to seduce you into becoming His tool of self-gratification.
- 2) When God "exalts" someone, He is not giving them permission to begin to abuse others.
- II. Why Did Elizabeth Ask Her Question?
- A. She had swallowed the corrupted vocabulary of men hook, line, and sinker.
- 1. It was inconceivable to her that the "mother of her Lord" should have anything at all to do with her.
- 2. It was an integral part of her thinking that the "blessed in terms of exaltation" would cease to have any obligation to enter into the sufferings of the "common" people.
- B. The Spirit of God Who was motivating her speech clearly wanted Luke's readers to seriously ponder the significance of the "automatic" decision of Mary to go to Elizabeth once she heard that the elderly woman who was called "barren" was entering into her third trimester.
- 1. The Kingdom of God is so completely different than the sinful kingdoms of this world that most folks spend their whole lifetime wandering around in a daze because none of their expectations of God's treatment of them actually come to pass.
- 2. Almost everyone tends to think that God's "exaltation" of them means that they are now exempt from suffering any difficulties and, worse, that they are now free to heap difficulties upon others "in the name of Jesus". [Illustration from the net regarding the "letter to ABC because of its promotion of perverse sex": what in the world was the man thinking?] [Illustration from current religion as it is practiced by a great number of preachers: they have their "dreams" and load up the people with the burden of fulfilling them -- like the extreme hypocrisy of the multimillionaire politicians going on and on about the needs of the poor and the consequent need to tax everyone to meet those needs].