Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
In the verses leading up to these we read about Mary’s miraculous conception and her acceptance of God’s will in her life. It is unclear if she visits Elizabeth before or after Joseph has been made aware of her conception (Matthew 1:18-19). Either way, Mary now goes to Elizabeth to share her good news, knowing that Elizabeth will be accepting as she is having her own ‘miracle child’.
Before Mary has a chance to tell her what the angel had said, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and is overflowing with the news of the Messiah’s coming. It is the Spirit inside her that gives her this knowledge. Elizabeth exclaims to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear”. The word blessed can also mean sacred, sanctified, holy, worthy of adoration, consecrated, or favored. No doubt Mary was favored by God for this task, for His own glory, because she was humble and willing to give honor and praise to God. In the same way, Jesus, now just an embryo would bring honor and glory to the Father through all that He would endure.
She asks a rhetorical question, directed toward Mary, but meant for God; “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” This is a question we must often ask ourselves. What have we done – why are we so favored – that Christ would come to us? It is a humbling thought to know that you are sealed for the day of judgement, to be set aside to reign and live with our Lord forever. But why? What good can I bring? How could I possible repay such a gift? That is the beauty of a gift – there is no payment, nor repayment necessary – just awe and wonder, and glory to the one who gave it. How fitting that John, still inside the womb, leapt for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. Even before birth, John the ‘path-maker’, recognized the presence of his Savior.
Elizabeth now bestows a blessing on Mary, through the Holy Spirit upon her: “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” This blessing echos the faith of the forefathers of the Israelite nation. In Hebrews 11 we read “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going….And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.” God made Mary aware of His plans for her, and for her future child. She accepted what God would do (by faith), and because of that she is blessed.