When Jesus’ original disciples first encountered Him, in their minds they each had different versions Who Jesus was. For a period, they followed a “lesser than” Jesus. In time, they grasped the reality of Who Jesus really was and what He had come to accomplish. Jesus was God Himself, born into the world, and He came to transform this world one life at a time.
As with those original disciples, when we place our faith in and follow a “lesser than” version of Jesus, He is able to change very little in our lives, much less transform the world. The question is: What Jesus do you follow? The story about Jesus found in the Gospel of Luke reveals not just a story, but a life-changing opportunity to discover the depth and significance of Who Jesus really is and what He can mean to your life.
Let’s begin with the interaction between two women found in chapter 1. Mary, who would give birth to Jesus, went to see her cousin, Elizabeth, who would give birth to John the Baptizer (John the Baptist) — the one who would prepare Israel for the imminent coming of the Messiah. In this interaction, notice the hope Jesus would bring to a world with no hope.
The Hope of Christ Expressed through Words: Elizabeth (vv. 42-45)
Elizabeth knew intuitively that Jesus was the promised Messiah — God come into the world. She was overwhelmed with joy at the sight of Mary. She exclaimed: “why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (v.43). The term “favored” refers to the grace of God. She sees this moment as an undeserved gift. Even though life for any woman in the ancient Middle East was not easy, she saw and embraced this gift from God in the moment, not because life had become easier, but because God was present like no other time before.
We could ask a similar question: Who am I that God would come to me and choose to be present on a personal basis? Elizabeth (and Mary) could now know joy and have real hope because God had come, as promised, to be fully present in life. The gifts of God are there day to day, regardless of any given circumstances. It’s really a question of whether you will notice and embrace those moments. Elizabeth did.
The Hope of Christ Expressed through Song: Mary (vv. 46-50)
Mary, in turn, discovered the hope Jesus would bring in three tangible ways:
1) Through God’s Loving Care (v. 48): Describing God as being “mindful” of her means to look at Mary with loving care and to show concern in tangible ways.
2) Through God’s Active Presence (v. 49): Mary celebrates: “the Mighty One has done great things for me” — His presence is personal.
3) Through God’s Extended Grace (v. 50): She then voices that God’s “mercy extends to those who fear Him”. God’s mercy means compassion and carries three implications: We need His compassion; He has the ability to make it available; and He takes action to make it available (through Jesus)!
Do you place your faith in and follow a “lesser than” version of Jesus? Or are you getting to know and follow Who He REALLY is — the reality of His power and grace? The first, changes very little. The second, transforms life.
“In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!’ And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name. His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation.’”