The focus of my regular articles in this column is on the words of Jesus – hence, it is called “Jesus Said.” Among other evidences, I believe Jesus’ statement in John 12:48 implies that the whole body of literature we know as The Bible is “the words of Jesus.”
But my articles are focused on the particular things he said in the gospel accounts. It has been amazing to learn and write about a man (of course, more than a man) whose only recorded words come from just a few days out of three years of his adult life (with the exception of the incident in the Temple when he was twelve, and the post-resurrection statements in Acts, and Revelation) and that those relatively few statements are the most profoundly influential ones the world has ever known. I’ve barely scratched the surface of these words over the last couple of years, and this column actually began on my blog on Mondays several years back as “Red-Letter Monday.”
In considering how to approach this column in 2016, I decided I would choose a gospel account, and work through it over the course of the year. If health and circumstances hold, with God’s help, it is my plan to write some 50 articles this year from the Gospel of Luke, beginning with this short notation from the early chapters.
The first words of Jesus in Luke are from the aforementioned Temple account (Luke 2:49). But there are instances in the gospels where there are no red letters, places where Jesus did not actually say anything, but still had great impact. In Luke’s gospel, there is one contained in the very first chapter.
To make the long story short, we must assume the reader knows that Jesus’ mother (Mary) and John the Baptist’s mother (Elizabeth) were related. We must also assume the knowledge that both pregnancies were miraculous, and that Elizabeth’s began about 6 months before Mary’s.
Around Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, after the announcement had been made to Mary and Joseph, and Mary was miraculously conceived with the Christ through the Holy Spirit, Mary went to stay with Elizabeth and Zacharias for a time (Luke 1:35-39).
Upon Mary’s arrival, she apparently made the customary remarks as she entered the door – referred to as “Mary’s greeting” (Luke 1:41, NASB). Before any other thing was said, “When Elizabeth heard…the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41). She then, without any input from Mary, said:
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord (Luke 1:42-45).
Just the presence of Jesus – an otherwise undetectable, just conceived infant in the womb of Mary – brought leaps of happiness from the unborn infant John, shouts of joy, and words of divine prophecy to the mouth of Elizabeth.
If you know his life at all, this was not the last time people would shout as a result of his presence – although, those shouts would range from the majestic to the murderous.
Indeed, there is as much to learn in the silence of Jesus as there is in his words.