As you read the scripture for this lesson, ask yourself this fundamental
question: why did Luke include the story of Elizabeth and Mary in his
*Note #1 *
It is vitally important that you read and understand the text (and its
historical context) before you begin to discuss what the various
extra-biblical traditions have said about Mary.
The purpose of Bible study is to discover what the author was trying to
communicate in the historical context in which he wrote. That is to say,
a text should never be used as a pretext for making a point that the
author himself was not making. As reformed people, it is imperative in
our study of the Bible to focus on what God has revealed in the text,
not on what contemporary ‘scholars” believe that he should have said OR
what a group of ‘devoted admirers” have chosen to speculate about Mary.
These may be valid and interesting subjects to explore, but they are not
*Note #2 *
I found the _Interpretation_ commentary on Luke (written by Fred
Craddock) to be very helpful as I attempted to understand the text. If
you can, find his work and read it. For the purpose of a summary
statement, I share his thinking on the significance of the stories of
Elizabeth and Mary.
‘Both are stories of God’s initiative of grace and power: of grace
in that what is soon to happen will express God’s favor toward the
world; of power in that God can work through the unable, an old
couple and an unmarried girl. Elizabeth and Mary will have sons
because God is able; they will have sons for our sake because God is
*Note #3 *
Here is another quote from Craddock that I found to be helpful:
‘Throughout chapters 1-2, Mary is portrayed as favored of God (v.
30), thoughtful (v. 29; 2:19,51), obedient (v. 38), believing
(v.45), worshipful (v. 46), and devoted to Jewish piety 2:22-51).
Luke names her in the company of believers when the church began
(Acts 1:14). To one Lukan scholar, Mary is presented as the ideal
Christian and is too much neglected in the Protestant Church
(Charles H. Talbert, Reading Luke, pp.22-26). However, we must be
careful to notice that none of her qualities is offered as the
reason God chose her; that reason lies tucked away in the purposes
of God.” (Emphasis my own)
*Note #4 *
It is important to note both the angel’s response to Mary’s question and
Mary’s response to the angel.
· When Mary asks, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin,” the angel
answers that ‘nothing will be impossible with God.”
– When Mary hears the angel’s answer to her question, her response
is,”Let it be with me according to your word.” As Craddock points
out, she bows ‘in humble obedience to the word of God.”
*Note #5 *
Here we have songs of two women who are miraculously about to bear sons
but there is never any doubt (as Luke records the stories) that
Elizabeth fully understands and acknowledges that Mary’s son is to be
· Elizabeth’s son, John, will fulfill Old Testament prophecy by
preparing the way for Jesus;
· Jesus, however, will fulfill Old Testament prophecy by becoming a
blessing to the entire world.
*Note #6 *
During your discussion time, let me suggest that you emphasize questions
3,4, and 6 on page 52. In ‘Suggestions for Leaders” on page 53, Sylvia
Washer points out that these are the questions that ‘connect the
scripture to life today.”
*Note #7 *
Another question you that you might want to ask is this: ‘Why are there
similarities between Hannah’s song and Mary’s song? These similarities
are addressed at length on page 50.
On page 48, Dale Lindsay Morgan says, ‘We could say that these
similarities are coincidental, the work of the Holy Spirit, or an
indication that women knew the scriptures well and could quote them
My question is this, ‘Do you think that there really are coincidences in