Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Spirit's Testimony

"When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:41).

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, one of the things he told her was, “Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age” (Luke 1:36). This encouraged Mary to visit Elizabeth, to get some woman-to-woman support for the times ahead for them both. Thus, “at that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth” (vv. 39–40).

John the Baptist, who was six months old in the womb at this point (Luke 1:26), leaped for joy when Mary entered the room. Simultaneously Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. What did the Holy Spirit do to Elizabeth? He caused her to open her mouth and praise God. He caused her to understand the truth of the situation, and to bless Mary. Elizabeth cried out, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” (v. 42).

Now, remember, in that society it would normally have been appropriate for Mary to pay homage to Elizabeth. But Elizabeth recognizes by the working of the Holy Spirit that she is standing in the presence of the mother of God, the theotokos.

Notice what else the Spirit inspires Elizabeth to say: “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (v. 45). These are words of encouragement to Mary. Just as the angel had blessed her, so a human being now blesses her under the Spirit’s guidance. Just as the angel had encouraged her, so now a human being encourages her under the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Thus we see three things that the Spirit did in the life of Elizabeth. He caused her to recognize the truth when it was presented to her, to praise God in response to that truth, and to give encouragement to a fellow believer.

Numerous biblical characters are noted for their gift of encouragement. Barnabas, whose name means “son of consolation,” is a good example of one who lived up to the meaning of his name. Take opportunities today to encourage others at home, school, or work.