And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 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. – Luke 1:40-42
As you will recall, Mary did not doubt the angel’s words and ask for a sign. She believed Gabriel immediately, and went eagerly to confirm the promise spoken to her. And, since she did not doubt, the Lord saw fit to bless her with much a more than a sign. The next several verses explode with evidence to Mary that what Gabriel said was true!
The first thing we need to understand in this portion of Scripture is what is meant by salutation. Are you ready for this deep theological definition? It means she said,
“Hello, Elisabeth.” That’t it.
So why is this important? Because of how Elisabeth responds to Mary’s greeting. Mary did not tell Elisabeth she was pregnant or why she came to visit. She could not call her on the phone, or send an email, or text to let her know she was coming to visit. The first time that Elisabeth knew that Mary was coming was when Mary said hello.
When Elisabeth heard that hello, the Holy Spirit began working in a mighty way. John, in Elisabeth’s womb, already had the spirit of Elijah on him. He heard that Mary was there and knew why. He leaped for joy as an acknowledgment that the Messiah was coming. Even before he was born, John was pointing to the Messiah, Jesus Christ!
But wait! It get’s even better. Not only was John filled with the Holy Ghost, Elisabeth was as well. Her baby was to be the forerunner of the Messiah, and for a few moments, she received that same spirit of prophecy! Elisabeth cried out that Mary was the most blessed woman in the history of mankind because of Who her baby was. Elisabeth, by the moving of the Holy Spirit in John and her, understood that Mary was pregnant with the Christ Child! Moreover, the words that Elisabeth spoke were the very same words that Gabriel said. God truly confirmed to Mary the truth of Gabriel’s words in a mighty way.
Mary was blessed more than any other woman because the Lord chose her to give birth to the Messiah. And God had abundant mercy on her by giving her such strong evidence and assurance. It is no wonder that Mary will break forth in song just a few verses later.