“And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For lo as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
And blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. “
Wonderful days they were in which the words of our text find their setting!
The night of the old dispensation was drawing to its end. All through those four thousand years there were indications that the night would not last forever. And as the end of them drew near, the signs of the coming day became ever clearer.
The first streaks of the day of salvation were beginning to appear in the multiple appearances of heavenly messengers. These enlightened the believing church that the Son of Righteousness was presently to appear with healing in His wings. Already the angel Gabriel, that brilliant seraph, had appeared twice in rapid succession: once to Zacharias, an unsuspecting priest, as he was officiating in the temple ministration; and then to a virgin whose name was Mary, who was espoused to Joseph the carpenter in lowly Nazareth—singularly favored by the Lord.
Wonderful days, indeed, of special revelation!
Six months had passed since Gabriel had announced to Zacharias the coming birth of him who was to prepare the way for the Messiah. Elisabeth, his wife, had conceived in her old age, and was no doubt making every preparation fey this singular event. Zacharias, we remember, had not believed, and was stricken dumb. But certainly even his dumbness did not hinder the process of normal birth. And she that was called barren was visited by the Lord, and was soon to bring forth a son who “in the spirit and power of Elias would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
In the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy the angel once more appeared to a youthful virgin in the meanest of Galilean towns, Nazareth by name, saying: “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”
Sore troubled was she at this saying, wondering what manner of salutation this should’ be. And the angel explains: “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus.” Moreover, the angel explained to her how it would be possible for her a virgin to bring forth this Son of the Highest: for the Holy Ghost would come upon her and the power of the Highest would overshadow her; and that holy thing which would be born of her would be called the Son of God.
And if Mary still wondered at the possibility of all this, the Lord .will give her a sign in her pregnant aged cousin, Elisabeth, whose barren womb is made alive by the power of God.
Mary believed, but her faith needed strengthening through the sign. So she decides to go immediately to Judea to see there also the wonder that is come to pass. And it was so that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe within Elisabeth leaped in her womb and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake with a loud voice:
“Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Not merely a natural phenomenon, to be explained from natural causes. For though scientifically it might be shown how sudden experiences of joy or sorrow may affect an unborn embryo in the womb of its mother, it is very evident here that the leaping babe in Elisabeth must be explained from more than the mere sound of Mary’s salutation.
Here was a divine sign, produced by a wonder of grace. As the sovereign Creator was able to produce in the womb of Rebekah the struggle of two nations, and so interpret the experience to a troubled mother, so also here in the womb of Elisabeth He produced the joyful leaping of her unborn son, simultaneously with the greeting of Mary.
Elisabeth recognizes divine revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost wherewith she was filled. By this power of the Spirit of God she was able to recognize the wonder that had befallen her in the grace of God. No doubt her husband, who was dumb because of unbelief, had revealed to her how he was dumb, how the angel of the Lord had spoken to him in the sanctuary of her coming pregnancy, of the birth of a miracle son who would prepare the way for the coming Lord and a people for His coming. In faith she had conceived, and now in faith she joyfully looked forward to the fulfillment of the Word of the Lord.
By the power of that same Spirit she now interprets the sign of the leaping babe, as a leaping for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. Not only was the Holy Spirit promised and given to the babe in his mother’s womb, which makes him leap for joy at the sound of the voice of his Master’s mother, but that Spirit reveals to the mother of the unborn babe the significance of his leaping. And so by the power of the Holy Spirit she speaks to her pregnant cousin, who had come for the expressed purpose to see the sign.
Wonderful revelation. indeed!
Accompanied with great joy!
Joy, registered in the heart of the unborn, leaping babe, who felt the presence of his Master in the voice of His virgin mother. Precursory to the joy he would express when, in the fulness of manhood and in the height of his mission as forerunner of the Christ, he would say: “He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30). Now being unborn and in his prenatal state, but being moved by the power of the Spirit, shall he not leap for joy when he is in the very presence of his Master? Entirely proper is the action of the unborn babe, as interpreted by his mother.
But joy also in the heart and now on the lips of the aged mother, Elisabeth.
Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
Not only is that which is in the womb of the pregnant virgin the Lord of her unborn son, but significantly she acknowledges that Mary’s unborn babe is her Lord. And therefore she exclaims with a loud voice: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!”
Mary, the mother of my Lord! This is what Elisabeth is given to understand and to express, having heard only the salutation of Mary. Indeed, if Mary had told Elisabeth all that had transpired in Nazareth—how the angel had shown to her that she being a virgin was to have a Son Whose name was to be called Jesus, Who would be given the throne of father David, how that he had revealed to her that her aged and barren cousin had conceived and was to bare a son—and Elisabeth and the babe would have responded .as they did, the experience recorded in the text would still be wonderful. But the experience was still more wonderful, for Mary had not said a word about all this. All that Elisabeth heard was Mary’s greeting. Elisabeth therefore not only speaks a word of joy and encouragement, but she, by the power of the Holy Spirit, prophesies. And so does the leaping babe and the words of Elisabeth become a sign—a sign Mary came to behold.
O, indeed, Mary’s Son shall be called the Son of God (verse 35), for such He is. He is, indeed, the Son of the Highest (verse 32). He is surely God of God, the Son of God in the Trinity of Divine Persons. He is God incarnate, the God of our salvation come in the flesh.
But Elisabeth rejoices in the fruit of Mary’s womb as her Lord—the One unto whom the Lord God has given the throne of His father’ David; the Lord, Who in His human nature would assume our guilt and would battle with our enemy, sin and death, and overcome; the Lord, Who through the way of the cross and the grave would merit and attain unto the crown of glory and authority and power, and thus receive a Name which is above every name; before Whom every knee would bow and acknowledge that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
So, Mary is the mother of my Lord! Not only the Lord of Elisabeth and her unborn son, but also my Lord, and the Lord of all whom the Father had given unto Him.
Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? How can I but be moved with eternal joy when He condescends to come into my presence? into my nature? under my guilt?
Blessed, indeed, is the fruit of thy womb, Mary! For He is my mighty Lord Who purchased me with His own blood, and made me His eternal possession. Who, in His unchangeable love, loved me even unto death and gave Himself for me a propitiation for”al1 my sins.
O, it is true, that Elisabeth could not at this point in time have understood all that she expressed. That understanding would come in the fulness of her salvation. But even now, and this is the wonder of revelation and the power of the Holy Ghost within her, she is moved by the Spirit to prophesy: He is my Lord!
And how blessed is she, the virgin mother, that believed!
Mary, though she had questioned how this would be possible, since she knew no man remaining in the covenant line through whom the Lord could fulfill His Word, nevertheless believed. Verily she believed that with the Lord nothing was impossible, and she believed that the Lord would, fulfill His Word in her. For she said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy Word.”
But signs are for the believers, for the strengthening of their faith. Consequently she had come for this hasty visit to her cousin Elisabeth.
And now she had witnessed the sign. All that remained was to hear the word of Elisabeth that would connect the sign to the reality. And Elisabeth being inspired by the Holy Spirit does not hesitate to oblige.
“Blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of the things which were told her from the Lord.”
Faith, also here, is not to be explained from the things which are seen, which even appeared to be contrary to reality; but it is the faith that clings to the Word of the Almighty, and sees the invisible, that is the substance of Mary’s faith. It hoped on that Word, and would walk in the fulfillment of that Word.
That is blessed, indeed!
For that Word of the Lord has a performance, that is, it shall surely be fulfilled. Nothing that He has spoken shall fail to materialize.
Mary shall have her Son!
A Son of David shall come forth of her. As a root out of the dry ground (Isaiah 53:2) shall He spring forth; for, though the house of Judah shall have no believing male left in it to perpetuate the covenant seed, and his generations end in a virgin, yet will the Lord fulfill His Word unto David that out of his generations One shall sit on His throne forever.
So there will be the incarnation, the cross, the resurrection, and the glorification, the Lord coming to the throne of His power! Verily, nothing shall fail of all that the Lord hath spoken!
God’s eternal kingdom shall be established!
Eternal salvation shall be the portion of all them who put their trust in Him!
Blessed is she that believed!
And so is blessed the faith of all God’s saints!
World without end!