In Luke 1:42-45, Elisabeth is given a great privilege. She is carrying John the Baptist in her womb. Mary, who will give birth to Jesus Christ, comes to her home. What an exciting meeting! Luke records what happens when the mothers of the two sons who will change not only Israel’s history, but the entire universe, have a face-to-face encounter. It is the only time in the Scriptures that these women meet.
Luke records that Elisabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. This causes her to speak out boldly. She speaks about the baby Mary is carrying. Elisabeth knows that Mary’s Son is Elisabeth’s Lord, and that because Mary is carrying the Christ, she is the most blessed woman on Earth. All of this happens as soon as Elisabeth hears the voice of Mary (v. 44).
We are not told how Elisabeth knew these things. The most obvious answer is that the Spirit revealed them to her. I wonder what she understood. For example, she clearly understood that Mary’s Son was the Christ who would be the King of an eternal kingdom. I don’t know if the Spirit revealed even more about the Person of Christ to her. We as Christians know that He is God Himself.
It seems clear that Elisabeth took up the mantle of a prophetess here. In the OT, of which Elisabeth was a part, the Spirit came upon people to enable them to perform a particular task God wanted them to do. Here, Elisabeth is used by God to proclaim truths about the coming Christ. It is obvious that this would also have been a tremendous comfort and encouragement to Mary.
Elisabeth was undoubtedly experiencing a high point in her life. Until just recently, her community would have considered her, as a barren woman, to be cursed by God. She was nearing the end of her life, and even though she was a righteous woman, she must have had doubts about her life’s value. Now, she finds herself in the center of what God is about to do and is used by His Spirit as His mouthpiece. She foreshadows her son’s role when, by the same Spirit, he will point the whole nation to the Christ.
But someone is missing in this account. Luke mentions that the house where Mary and Elisabeth met belonged to Zacharias as well as Elisabeth (v. 40). Zacharias was a priest and was a righteous man (Luke 1:6). He was the father of John the Baptist. But he is noticeably silent in this encounter. One would expect that he would have taken on the prophetic function in the home.
We know why that was not the case. When Gabriel told him that he and Elisabeth would have a son, Zacharias didn’t believe it. As a result, he became unable to speak. Evidently, he was struck with deafness as well (Luke 1:62). If Zacharias was in the house when Mary visited, he could neither hear nor speak about what was going on.
But when Elisabeth heard Mary’s voice, she was able to speak the wonderful truths the Spirit revealed to her. Whether Zacharias saw what was happening around him and wondered what Elisabeth was hearing and saying, or whether he learned about these things later, he knew that he had lost a wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord.
We have often heard it said that if a believer does not allow himself to be used by the Lord, He will use somebody else. That certainly is the case here. What would Zacharias have said after he heard Mary’s greeting when she came to his house? How would the Spirit of God have used him? We will never know. What we do know is that he watched his wife engage in a prophetic event as she boldly proclaimed the majesty of the Christ. She could speak. He couldn’t.
It is not difficult to find the application here for believers today. Walk in obedience to the Lord. He will use us, and we will be surprised at what we are able to hear and speak.