International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday December 11, 2016
Purpose: To embrace joyfully our place in God’s mission to bless the nations
Bible Lesson: Luke 1:39-56
Key Verses: Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.” (Luke 1:46-47)
Luke 1:39-56 (CEB)
(39) Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. (40) She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. (41) When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (42) With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry. (43) Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (44) As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. (45) Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.” (46) Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord! (47) In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. (48) He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored (49) because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name. (50) He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God. (51) He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. (52) He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. (53) He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed. (54) He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, (55) just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.” (56) Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned to her home.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Lesson 1 reflected the Lord’s calling of Mary through the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:26-38. In verse 38, Mary affirms her role as the Lord’s servant. This week, we continue the narrative with Luke 1:39-56 and will study Mary’s joyful and worshipful response to her calling. Our text includes three parts. First, Luke 1:39-45 narrates Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s enthusiastic greeting and blessing over Mary. Second, in verses 46-55 (called the Magnificat), Mary offers a rich and dynamic poetic celebration of the work of the Lord. Third, verse 56 concludes our Scripture lesson with a summary of Mary’s visit.
Mary and Elizabeth join with the great women of the Old Testament in teaching us about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Such as: Sarah, Hannah, Miriam, Ruth, Naomi, Esther and Deborah to name a few.
As Mary travels to the high country, (Jerusalem.) Remember, Elizabeth’s husband was on a rotation as a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem. Notice also that Elizabeth has a higher station in life, as the wife of a priest, than Mary. However, Elizabeth soon recognizes that Mary now holds a higher calling, and acknowledges that in verse 43 “Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Protocol would usually require the lesser to go to the higher, but Elizabeth knew she was the lesser, in this case.
In Luke’s writing both in this book and his second book (Acts) the Holy Spirit is an important figure. The Holy Spirit is also portrayed in an early writing the explore the birth of Mary. I am including an excerpt from that book. (The birth and early life of the Virgin Mary is not recorded in the Gospels or other books of the New Testament; however, this information can be found in a work dating from the second century known as the Book of James or Protevangelion.
According to the story found in this book, Mary's parents, Joachim and Anna, were childless for many years. They remained faithful to God, but their prayers for a child were unanswered. One day, when Joachim came to the temple to make an offering, he was turned away by the High Priest who chastised him for his lack of children. To hide his shame, Joachim retreated to the hill country to live among the shepherds and their flocks.
As Joachim was praying, his wife Anna was praying at the same time at their house in Jerusalem. An angel appeared to both and announced that Anna would have a child whose name would be known throughout the world. Anna promised to offer her child as a gift to the Lord. Joachim returned home, and in due time Anna bore a daughter, Mary) This Information is from the following Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Their tradition has Mary raised in a monastery type environment, which could account for her great understanding, and that her cousin was married to a priest offers some credence to that thought.
Both Mary and Elizabeth offer us an example of being a servant for the Lord. While Mary is not deity, she certainly ranks at the top of any list where we look at obedience, to God’s call, is involved.
My hymn for this week is “My Soul Gives Glory to My God”