As we continue with our weekly Money Bible Study, we see that the two promises from last week are fulfilled in today’s reading: Promises of a child for Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth would give birth John the Baptist, whom Jesus said of him,
“I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John,” (Luke 7:28)
and Mary would give birth to Jesus.
So we see our first two evidences to support the claim that God’s word never fails (verse 37). However, Mary and Zechariah does not think that the evidence ends here. Mary mentions in verse 55, “just as he promised our ancestors” and Zechariah in verse 72-73, “to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham…”
They are praising God by claiming that these two children are not simply promises given a few months ago before their pregnancies, but a fulfillment of the promise he made with Abraham (approx. 2000 years before!):
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3)
Mary and Zechariah are claiming that the birth of John and Jesus will finally begin to fulfill the promise that all the people on earth will be blessed.
Now, as this is the Money Bible Study, we must answer the question, “What does it mean that the earth will be blessed? Does it mean that the earth will be blessed monetarily?” and let’s not forget Jesus’ statement that John the Baptist is the greatest man that ever lived, but the question “What does it mean to be great?” is best saved until we get to chapter 7.
If we are honest, many of us have no idea what we mean by “bless” even though we bless people all the time after they sneeze and post #blessed all over social media. What about the famous American slogan, “God bless America”? What kind of specific blessings is it asking for?
Our passage today answers an aspect of biblical blessing; the word blessed is mentioned four times (v. 42, 45, 48), three of which are directed to Mary and one to Jesus. Elizabeth most clearly explains that Mary is blessed for believing that God will fulfill his promises to her. In other words, Mary is blessed for her faith.
Now as for how the earth will be blessed, we see some details in the famous Mary’s Magnificat (v. 46-55). A major theme of her song seems to be that God shows mercy to the humble and humbles the proud.
Throughout the Bible is the theme that God is the God of the orphans and the widows, who were some of the most marginalized people in ancient society. Whoever messed with the orphans and the widows, messed with God.
Biblical illustrations usually equate those who are poor with those who are in a humble state. The idea is that by being poor we are more inclined to seek God for help. In this state of relying on God, we also discover the depths of our spiritual poverty. The poor are able to be comforted because God has their back, but even more significantly, that God has met their spiritual need.
By being rich, we are less inclined to seek God for help. In our wealth, we often handle our own physical and economic needs without having to pray. However, through this life of self-reliance, we distance ourselves from God and blind ourselves from our spiritual need. Therefore, the powerless become humble and the powerful become proud; and contrary to the saying, “The rich get richer,” we find the opposite spiritually, “The humble are exalted, but the rich are sent away empty.”
God becomes the great equalizer in this unjust world of socio-economic boundaries and oppression. God has sent his champion, his very own son Jesus to begin a new kingdom here on earth, a kingdom of peace and justice, but this is all secondary. The primary way that God blesses the nation through Jesus is by meeting our spiritual need, a restored relationship with God.
Jesus has come to “seek and save the lost,” (Luke 19:10) and these lost people are not only the poor but the rich. If you are poor, don’t look to money as your savior, and if you are rich, don’t look to money as your savior. Look to Jesus Christ, who has come to rescue us from our spiritual poverty, an estranged relationship with God.
God thank you for your word that never fails. Thank you for Jesus through whom we were given a way to be restored in our relationship with you. Bless us all with the faith like Mary to believe in your word, that through us also, many people will find their relationship with you restored. And for those who are reading who do not know whether they have been saved from this spiritual poverty, reveal to them that you are good and you have come to seek and save them.