39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:39–45)
The Gospel of Luke contains a somewhat obscure narrative in the New Testament’s treatment of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a visit that Mary paid to her relatives Zechariah and Elizabeth. Luke 1:36 informs us, through the angel Gabriel, that Elizabeth and Mary were related. “And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.”
The word for relative (συγγενίς; syngenis) means, in the feminine gender, a kinswoman, who is a female member of an extended family or clan. Beyond this definition, we do not know if Elizabeth was a cousin or even an aunt to Mary. We can otherwise conclude that Elizabeth was older than Mary.
Luke tells us that the events he recorded occurred in the days of the angel Gabriel’s visit to not only Zechariah and Mary, but also presumably to Mary’s betrothed husband Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25). It was during this time, approximately six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:26), that Mary quickly traveled south from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea. She journeyed to an unidentified town in Judah and to the residence of Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “The journey from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea may have taken three to five days, depending on the precise location of Elizabeth’s home. In view of bandits on the roads, young Mary’s journey was courageous, although she may have found a caravan with which to travel; otherwise her family may not have allowed her to go.”
Upon arriving and entering their home, Mary greeted Elizabeth. Luke then recorded that something miraculous happened. “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41).
The text continues with Elizabeth saying to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
What exactly happened? Dr. John MacArthur comments that, “The Holy Spirit undoubtedly guided Elizabeth’s remarkable expression of praise. This expression is not in praise of Mary, but in praise of the child whom she bore. It was a profound expression of Elizabeth’s confidence that Mary’s child would be the long-hoped-for Messiah—the one whom even David called “Lord” (cf. 20:44). Elizabeth’s grasp of the situation was extraordinary, considering the aura of mystery that overshadowed all these events (cf. 2:19). She greeted Mary not with skepticism but with joy. She understood the response of the child in her own womb. And she seemed to comprehend the immense importance of the child whom Mary was carrying. All of this must be attributed to the illuminating work of the Spirit (1:41).”
Has the Lord ever given you an insight into a situation which you did not previously possess? Upon receiving such insight and wisdom, did you praise Him for it? Elizabeth did. And as we shall soon see, so did Mary. Take some time to do so today.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!