Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 1 Message Outlines
Luke 1:39-56 (3)
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 3 March 14, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(059)Thesis:The "blessedness" of a person depends entirely upon how "connected" he/she is to the River of Life.
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 deliberate focus upon the "joyful exuberance" that exists between the members of the Godhead and that this "joyful exuberance" is shared with those who are "connected" to the members of the Godhead. In that study we focused primarily on what we called the "cascade" of things that resulted from Mary's voice when she entered the home of Elizabeth. And, in that study, we only got around to considering one part of the actual content of Elizabeth's loud outburst...the part that had to do with her explanation of John's "leap of joy". This morning we are going to take a closer look at some of the other things she loudly proclaimed. Basically, her outburst consisted of two statements of "blessedness", a question, an explanation of the outburst, and a pronouncement of the "blessedness" of Mary because of her willingness to believe what Gabriel told her. To understand these Spirit-inspired utterances, we must understand the concepts involved in what the translators call "blessedness".
I. The Two Concepts Involved.
A. There are two different words used by Elizabeth.
1. There is the word she used in verse 42.
2. There is the word she used in verse 45.
B. The concept of "blessedness" as given in verse 42.
1. This concept has multiple aspects to it.
a. Originally, the word referred to "saying something good about someone".
1) At this point, the issue was "status building": people say good things about others in order to enhance the reputations of those well spoken of in the eyes of their hearers.
2) There is little doubt that the word is used in this context with this concept in mind.
a) Gabriel's statement to Mary in 1:28 can hardly be taken in any other way since he deliberately elevated her above all other women.
b) Mary's claim in 1:48 that she would be looked upon as "blessed" by all generations makes no sense unless her "blessedness" is so much greater than most people's that every generation will recognize it.
b. Sometime after its coinage, the word began to be used as an expression of exuberance because of what the impact was going to be from the presence of the "one who had the status" [Note the Triumphal Entry where the crowds are exuberant because the King was going to make their lives a great deal better than they currently were].
1) This seems to be the meaning Elizabeth had in mind when, by the Spirit, she uttered her pronouncements because she immediately raised the question of why Mary had come to her.
2) There is little doubt that her linkage of Mary's coming to John's joyful leap had this cause/effect, Presence/result, issue in mind.
c. Then there was another shift: the word began to be used as a statement of gratitude for benefit received [Note Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:16 and Jesus in His "blessing" of the bread in Matthew 14:19 compared with John 6:11] from someone who was blessed.
d. Then, there was a further shift to an "appeal" to God for blessing upon another [..."bless those who curse you..."] (though this might actually simply be a command to say good things about those who curse you).
2. There is, however, an overall picture that makes the various senses of meaning come together.
a. The entire "status building" issue is tightly tied, in all biblical revelation, to the imparting of "life" [a major "life" promise to Abraham was the promise of a "great name"].
b. So, if we visualize a River of Life that is flowing from the throne of God and carrying the ingredients of status, security, and satisfaction, we can begin to understand what it means to be "blessed": it means to be standing in the flow of the River...receiving status, security, and satisfaction from God.
c. Then, if we plug Elizabeth's two "blessed" statements into this picture, what we have is:
1) a claim that the flow of the River narrows when it gets to Mary so that no one gets the benefits of the River except through her.
a) This is no basis for Mariolatry; it has happened multiple times before in history in the cases of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, Nathan, etc.
b) But it is a basis for beginning to understand the concept of "blessedness" in that, in some respects, ever since Jesus came, we have all become "Marys"...we are, each one of us, unique vessels of the River's flow [the difference is that we are not as unique as Mary was].
2) a claim that the flow of the River narrows even further to the fruit of her womb so that the flow of the River is now narrowed down to the baby in her womb.
C. The Concept of "Blessedness" as given in verse 45.
1. In this verse, Elizabeth switches to a more pragmatic term.
a. She is no longer seeing Mary as one chosen of God.
b. Now she is seeing Mary as one experiencing the benefits of being chosen.
2. Elizabeth focuses upon the connections between...
a. The present and its impact on the future, and...
b. The attitude one takes so that the future reality becomes at least possible to taste in the present.
c. One can be "blessed" in the sense of verse 42 without being "blessed" in the sense of verse 45. The difference is in how "faith" changes the landscape.
1) Elizabeth knew, first-hand, what happens when a person does not believe...she was living with the difficulties of a man who could not speak.
2) She also knew that "what happens" is invariably tied to "whether one believes"...not so much in terms of God's "blessing" as static fact, but in terms of God's blessing as participation in the flow of the River.