At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
While we don't know the greeting Mary brings to Elizabeth, it had an effect so powerful that Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, and begins to speak out prophetically.
John the Baptist, in Elizabeth's womb, also responds to the presence of the Messiah inside of Mary. Elizabeth interprets this stirring within her as motivated by joy -- and why not? That is how the Angel saw it: "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (2:10).
Blessed Are You Among Women (1:42-44)
Elizabeth is exemplary in her response. She is the "amazed saint." Her attitude is summarized in the question "Why am I so favored?" Here is humble amazement at being able to participate directly in God's plan and see him at work (2 Sam 6:9; 24:21). All who have a role in God's plan should share this wonder.
Elizabeth recognizes the unique blessedness of Mary (blessed are you among women) because of the child she bears (blessed is the child you will bear). The remark is rhetorical and should not be read as if Mary is the most blessed of all women. It means she is "very pleased" (compare Judg 5:24; Song 1:8). The attitude of Elizabeth is representative of what Luke desires in any believer. What a joy to share in the events associated with Jesus. What a joy to share life with him.
Elizabeth has sudden insight also into Mary's faith: "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" (1:45). While Elizabeth's husband had doubted what the Lord had told him -- and was mute because of it -- Mary had believed. This very trip south to Judea was evidence of her belief, for she was acting it out, coming to visit the one person whom God had prepared to help her -- Elizabeth.
Mary had certainly been an encouragement to Elizabeth and Zechariah, but I think God had planned it especially for Mary's benefit. Upon returning home, Mary would be subject to cruel taunts and slander, here she was safe. Upon returning home, Mary would have to stand on her own spiritual feet, lonely, misunderstood, rejected. Here she was loved and accepted.
Elizabeth had asked, "Why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (1:44). God provided Elizabeth to Mary as a kind of spiritual grandmother -- a pregnant grandmother at that! -- who would nurture her and encourage her in the Lord. Elizabeth was her instructor and teacher, her friend and confidant, her mentor and advocate. God gave Elizabeth to Mary for a special period of time and a special purpose.
As we conclude, I can't help but think that God may have these roles for each of us, too.
Perhaps you are a new Christian, struggling hard to understand and make your way. I believe God has someone for you who can help and guide you. It's likely that you'll find this mentor at church -- that's where God-loving, mature believers usually congregate -- or perhaps a small group meeting related to the church. I encourage you to pray that God would enable you find an Elizabeth to help you out during this period of your spiritual journey.
You may be a more mature Christian that God is preparing to be an Elizabeth to some Mary out there. You've been through your own share of pain and struggle. You can understand. You can sympathize. But have now found how to walk with the Lord, how to call upon him in need, how to pray. There's a Mary out there who needs you. Be on the lookout for her, when God sends her along. You have your struggles, to be sure, but Mary needs to watch you meet them with the Lord's help.