In a passage full of joy, Luke’s account of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth is full of references to the Ark of the Covenant and it’s return to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6. The references are making an explicit connection for us: Mary, pregnant with the incarnate Son of God, is the fulfilment of the Ark of the Covenant, the emblem of Israel, where God’s glory dwells and where God comes to meet man. In the incarnation, God’s promises to his servant Israel, to Abraham and his descendants, are being fulfilled.
In the first instance, this reminds us of how important knowledge of the Old Testament is for Christians. We can’t know really know Jesus if we don’t know the Old Testament, it gives us the context that helps us to understand our salvation and its working out in our lives fully. We should read the Old Testament prayerfully and with discipline, and ask God to open our eyes to the connections in his Word.
The fulfilment of God’s promises bring Joy because the Mary carries a salvation more powerful than the Ark of the Covenant, the ability for Man to be healed of sin and to be united to God in love. We can know the joy of salvation when we keep in mind the magnitude of our salvation, and hunger for it, because it is in this humility that we encounter God’s power. If we substitute self-righteousness or petty religion for the righteousness of Christ, God “cast us down from our thrones”, but if we come to him hungry for Christlikeness he “has mercy on us, lifts us up and fills us with good things.”
In Elizabeth’s joy at seeing Mary we also see a picture of the delight we should have in the Church. We should honour those who have faithfully followed Christ before us by being attentive to, and humble before, their legacy. Each Christian glorifies God differently and deepens and expands our love for God. This is why we are called to love the Church, and why the Holy Spirit delights to dwell among unity. God calls us to repent of sinful judgement, and of despairing of people and to pray, “Help me to see this person as you see them!” Our love for one another will witness powerfully to the world around us.