It’s all about the relationships
22 Thursday Sep 2011
Welcome to Wine and the Word Wednesday! One of the best things about having guests for dinner is the leftover food. This past weekend we had a barbeque with our home church group. In case I haven’t mentioned it previously, Tim is a fantastic chef. The ribs, chicken and smoked salmon were wonderful….and the ribs we had for dinner tonight were every bit as good as the first time they were served. We’re home from our regular Wednesday night rehearsal and I’ve poured a glass of Tim’s dry rosé. Time to relax and take a look at Luke.
After Tim read last week’s post, we had a great conversation about how God uses relationships as He interacts with us and furthers His plan. Rather than moving on to the next section in Luke, tonight I wanted to explore what I’m seeing so far about the role relationship plays in God’s plan. For example, although I’ve always known Jesus and John the Baptist were related, until now I hadn’t focused on the fact that they would have grown up in a similar family culture, perhaps even spent time together as they grew up. God placed them in family relationship with one another as part of fulfilling His promise to provide a messiah. By placing Jesus and John in the same extended family, God established a pre-existing relationship between Mary and Elizabeth that would have been invaluable to them both, giving each of them someone who understood the experience of living out the miraculous.
As I consider Mary, her knowledge of God’s interaction with Hannah and the psalms of David indicates a family culture that encouraged or at least allowed women to study. Many families would not have had this perspective in that era. This family culture nurtured Mary’s relationship with God and deepened her understanding of God’s promises and His relationship with His people. God used her family relationships to directly contribute to her attitude of belief when the angel made his announcement about her role as the mother of Jesus.
As I consider Elizabeth, her life experience and relationship with God prepared her to befriend her young relative, Mary. Luke doesn’t give any indication that Mary told anyone about the message from the angel, yet when Elizabeth sees her, she makes a declaration indicating that she understands what Mary’s role is to be in the process of bringing the messiah. Elizabeth is the first person to declare that Mary’s son, Jesus, is the son of God by acknowledging that Mary is the mother of her “Lord.” What an amazing gift for Mary to have Elizabeth as a friend and relative, and what an amazing experience for Elizabeth to have the mother of the messiah as her friend and kinswoman!
Again I’m struck by Luke’s focus on women in the story of Jesus’ life, and the respect he shows toward the part women played. In my mind, he’s drawing back a curtain and telling us the story didn’t start with a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. Before that happened, there was an older couple who remained married, although childless, displaying the love and respect the man had for his wife in spite of what his culture expected. Before there was a baby in a manger, there was a family who encouraged its daughters as well as its sons to study and understand God’s interactions with His people, nurturing a young girl’s relationship with Him.
What can I learn from the example of Mary and Elizabeth that helps me better reflect God’s image and follow Christ? I see that I need to be purposeful about knowing God. I need to encourage other women to know God and to pursue relationship with Him. I see from the example of Mary and Elizabeth that God will provide friendships that allow me to share my experience with others and at the same time deepen my relationship with Him. Finally, I see that God places women in the center of His plans, neither superseding men nor secondary to them.
Enjoy the rest of your wine and the rest of your evening!