In this very familiar account of Elizabeth’s greeting, Mary brings together two families with an extraordinary bond between them: both families are blessed in the midst of scorn.
For Elizabeth and Zechariah, the scorn came first and was finally replaced by blessing. She had been barren, which was widely viewed as a sign of God’s curse. For years, she and her husband had lived with the whispers and sidelong glances of the community. But now, finally, the scorn was removed as Elizabeth became pregnant in her old age.
For Mary and Joseph, the scorn would coincide with the blessing. She was blessed to bear the Messiah, the Son of God, and Gabriel had even referred to her as “graced” (v. 28). But no one believed the crazy story of her child’s miraculous conception. She was already living with the shame of a seemingly illegitimate pregnancy.
So the two women meet, and Elizabeth calls Mary “blessed among women.” She who has known the world’s unjust scorn is the first to recognize the magnitude of God’s blessing on another, a blessing that most will interpret as a curse and will treat with scorn. Someone who has gone from apparent cursing to obvious blessing recognizes a very unusual blessing upon Mary and encourages her for what will be a very hard life.
What appears to be scorn is often blessing. This month we celebrate the greatest example of that principle in human history, as two families— one seemingly cursed and then blessed, the other scorned, seemingly deservedly— await the birth of the Forerunner and then of the Lord himself. God often works by this principle in our lives as well. Look deeply into scorn or reproach or hardship.