I am staying with my cousin this weekend, not only for Thanksgiving, but so that I can attend the memorial service for my grandmother, which occurs today on Black Friday.
Staying with my cousin has been a joy, because we very rarely see each other. For most of our lives, we have lived a few states apart. But when we were kids, my cousins (Julie, whom I’m staying with, Nancy and Christopher) lived only a few hours apart, and we saw each other fairly often.
So as I got up this morning, I reflected on what a joy it is to be in my cousin’s home, and to be able to visit with her for more than a few hours, as we have done in the last 30 years or so, when we’ve seen each other only at weddings and funerals. It occurred to me that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had gone to see her cousin Elizabeth when she received news that not only was she to give birth to the Son of God, but her cousin was going through a similar circumstance, having been given the gift of pregnancy with John, the forerunner of Christ.
This morning I turned to that beautiful scripture in Luke that describes Mary’s and Elizabeth’s greeting to one another, (Luke 1:39-56). I find it beautiful and so like God to fill Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit exactly at the moment when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, so not only did they greet each other as beloved cousins, but they greeted each other in Spirit and in truth. It was a reunion of the most blessed kind.
And as the Magnificat fell like pearls from Mary’s lips–Mary’s song of praise–there came a precious jewel of truth in her words that many people read right over…including me, until this morning.
“For He has regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.” (Luke 1:48)
The word “blessed” comes from the Greek word “makarizo” which means, “to pronounce blessed, as indwelt by God, and thus fully satisfied.” Mary was saying that all generations would know from then on that she had been indwelt by God, and made complete, and fully satisfied.
Interestingly, when Elizabeth first saw Mary, she could see that Mary was “makarizo.” Of course, the Holy Spirit gave her the spiritual eyes to see this remarkable spiritual change. Elizabeth used the feminine form of the same word when she said to Mary:
“And blessed is she who believed that there would a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
My Keyword Study Bible states that the word “makarizo” is only used in Luke 1:48 and James 5:11 (although Elizabeth used the femine form, “makaria” in Luke 1:45). It states that James 5:11 is often completely mistranslated to say, “We count those happy who endure.” Here’s what the editors of my Bible say about this:
Happiness has absolutely nothing to do with makariotes, “blessedness,” an inner quality granted by God…The Lord never promised happiness, good luck, or favorable circumstances to the believer, but makariotes, “blessedness.” This means His indwelling and the consequent peace and satisfaction to the believer no matter what the circumstances may be.
Mary was fully satisfied. So was Elizabeth. And for the rest of their lives, no matter what the circumstances, they would continue to be satisfied, even as their sons, just beginning to form in their wombs, would eventually experience terrible deaths. The blessedness of God transcends everything, even the worst the devil can dole out.
This Christmas season, many will buy many things to try to satisfy themselves and those they love. And while gift giving is a way of expressing our love–and certainly smiled upon by God–let us also pray that God would pour out His greatest gift, the Holy Spirit, upon those we love, so that they will be finally and completely, fully satisfied. No other gift comes close.