As I read the Christmas story looking at Mary the thing that most impressed me about her was that she served Elizabeth for three months. However they were related, it was important for Mary to share this time with her friend and relative. (I do wonder if part of the reason for this visit was not to strengthen her faith for what lay ahead of her.)
This trip came at a cost. It was the first of four times that she would go between Nazareth and the land of Judah in nine months. It is approximately eighty to ninety miles and she probably did the first two on foot; that would have been about a week’s worth of walking. The journey took her through many of the historical sites of Israel and through Jerusalem. Just walking would have been hard enough, even though she was young, but there were also the chemical changes going on inside her. Another cost was her reputation! She left Nazareth not showing that she was pregnant and came back with a three-month baby bump, you know tongues were wagging. Joseph considered divorce. Being stoned to death was a possibility. Just a little pressure for saying YES to God.
Mary and Gabriel
Mary was greatly troubled. I don’t really blame her. Suddenly there is a man in your room and he is happily greeting you saying you are highly favored of the Lord. “Greatly troubled” is diatarasso it is used once in the New Testament and gives the idea she was very upset. When “greeting” is used elsewhere in Luke it is aspasmos which is just the concept of saying hello. It seems that the entire conversation may not have been recorded but it would seem likely that Gabriel introduced himself as he did with Zechariah.
Mary had heard the Scriptures, she knew like every other virgin of the family of David that she was a candidate to carry the Messiah. Now it was happening to HER! Luke 3:31 puts her in a branch of the family that came through Nathan and the only connection to the “kingly line” was with Zerubbabel and Shealtiel. The greeting sounded like the one given to Gideon (Judges 6:12), who also had family trouble because he accepted the task he was given.
Mary was a reflective person who considered her place in history by what God had given her to do. In Luke 2: 19 she is “treasuring all of these happenings and pondering them.” She would have been the only source of these happenings for Luke and Matthew.
Her song of praise in 1:46 showed a lot of thought and awareness of Scripture and the events of her time. I think the week-long walk may have helped the composing of her song.