God blessed Zechariah and Elizabeth greatly, especially by allowing them to be the parents of John the Baptist. Until yesterday, I had never understood another aspect of their blessedness that serves as a helpful illustration of an important Pauline text.
Pauline Teaching about Confessing Jesus Is the Lord
Paul teaches in First Corinthians 12 that no one is able to “say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 12:3). Saying this, he does not teach that even merely uttering those words is impossible apart from the Spirit, but rather that people can believingly confessing that Jesus is the Lord only through the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
A close look at the events that took place immediately after Gabriel came to Mary to reveal how God had highly favored her (Luke 1:26-28) shows that these events provide us with two wonderful instances of people who confessed that Jesus is the Lord. What’s more, the inspired record of these events plainly illustrates what Paul taught about such confession.
Elizabeth Confessed Jesus Is the Lord by the Holy Spirit
After the miraculous conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb (Luke 1:26-38), the first person of whom we read that encountered Jesus while He was yet unborn was Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-40). When she heard Mary’s greeting, she was filled with the Spirit (Luke 1:41).
Through that filling, Elizabeth declared the blessedness of both Mary and her unborn Child, Jesus (Luke 1:42). She then said, “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me” (Luke 1:43).
With these words, Elizabeth testified that she believed that the yet-to-be-born Child who was in Mary’s womb was her (Elizabeth’s) Lord! Because we know that she made this utterance when she was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41), we learn that Elizabeth is the first person that we have a record of in Scripture who confessed Jesus is the Lord by the Holy Spirit!
Zechariah Testified the Same Truth by the Spirit
Following the glorious declaration of Elizabeth to Mary (Luke 1:41-45), we read of Mary’s marvelous statements about God’s goodness to her and her people (Luke 1:46-55). After staying with her for about three months, Mary returned to her own home (Luke 1:56).
The Spirit then informs us of what took place when John the Baptist was born (Luke 1:57-80). After explaining how Zechariah confirmed that his newborn son’s name was to be John (Luke 1:59-63) and subsequently praised God (Luke 1:64), we read of Zechariah being filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:67).
Through that filling, Zechariah prophesied marvelous things about how God was blessed because of what He had done for His people Israel (Luke 1:68-79). Among his Spirit-filled prophetic statements, Zechariah said, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways” (Luke 1:76).
Saying this, he made known that his son John would be a prophet of the Highest and would precede the Lord to prepare His ways. This vital declaration shows that he believed that John would prepare the way for One whom he believed was the Lord!
Because Zechariah made this declaration through the filling of the Holy Spirit, we learn that Zechariah is the second person that we have a record of in Scripture who confessed that Jesus is the Lord by the Holy Spirit! Zechariah and Elizabeth thus have the special distinction of being the first two people recorded who confessed by the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Lord!