"At that time," Luke uses this term about sixty times. It denotes immediate action.
Elizabeth was six months pregnant. Mary stayed three months, see verse 56. All this plainly indicates that Mary left Nazareth almost immediately after the announcement. Gabriel's command for her to visit Elizabeth is implicit in verse 36. No one knows which city is meant. Most likely it is Hebron. At any rate, Mary travelled 80-100 miles, a journey of about four days.
Whether Mary and Elizabeth were personally acquainted is not known nor necessary for the proper exposition of this text.
The text in no way says that Mary informed Elizabeth concerning what happened to Mary. What is important is that greeting and the stirring in Elizabeth's womb and Elizabeth's being filled with the Holy Spirit. That this is far more than normal fetal movement is clear from 44b. The phrase "filled with the Holy Spirit" is frequent in chapters 1 and 2 and is always explained immediately. It is for a specific, temporary reason and in no way denotes higher spirituality, in the modern sense of the so-called charismatics, and certainly is not ecstatic.
"Loud voice," she cried out with a loud voice.
"Blessed," the various forms of this Greek word in the New Testament are used only of human beings, not of God. It denotes God's blessing upon humans. Mary is blessed because she will bear the Savior. Jesus, a true human, is blessed of God to be the Savior.
"Amoung women," means more than all other women. Elizabeth is admitting that Mary is more blessed than she herself is.
"But why," Denotes great surprise. Why is this granted to me? Who am I? But how does this happen to me? It shows her great unworthiness in her own estimation. The parents of both John and Jesus are pictured as humble people. A great Christian virtue.
The Holy Spirit informed Elizabeth that the Lord was in Mary's womb. The word is the same as the Hebrew "Adonai" in Psalm 110:1. She was doing what is stated in 1 Corinthians 12:3. Elizabeth was no "charismatic."
Marshall: Jesus is described as Lord. The use of the term Lord in narrative to refer to Jesus is distinctive of Luke. Look at 1:76; 2:11; 7:13,19; 10:1,39,41; 11:39; 12:42; 13:15; 17:5f; 18:6; 19:8,31,34; 20:42,44; 22:61; 24:3,34.
Elizabeth knew all from the Holy Spirit. She is the first human being, other than Mary, who knows and announces that Mary will give birth to the God-man.
"To me," to me of all people!
By the way, is an embryo alive at conception? Verses 35 and this verse 43 clearly indicate that it is. At this point Jesus was no more than seven days from conception. One cannot call a lifeless mass "the Lord." If it be argued that Jesus is an exception, it must be stated that He was like us in all respects except that He was sinless and was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The strongest argument for the presence of life at conception is this passage about our Lord.
The words here point to Elizabeth's wonderment. "I say this because of the tremendous fact that when your greeting hit my ears there leaped with joy the embryo in my womb."
Did the unborn John the Baptist greet the unborn Jesus? Of course, at the instigation of the Holy Spirit. That doesn't mean that John was, at that time, personally acquainted with Jesus. The Holy Spirit indicated that later to John. Look at John 1:33. Was it a normal fetal movement? Of course not. This one was with joy, says the text. Under the Holy Spirit, the embryo affected Elizabeth, not vice versa.
Furthermore, those who deny infant baptism simply because an infant has neither the will nor the thinking power to apprehend the Holy Spirit must attempt to explain this passage.
The verse begins in Greek with the word "furthermore." Forms of this word in the New Testament introduce beatitudes denoting the condition of the regenerate in one way or another. "Happy" is not a good translation because that word, for us, denotes feelings. Blessed denotes a blessed state, relation to God, quite apart from feelings. One can be blessed in times of great sorrow, persecution, and want. See the beatitudes in Matthew and Luke.
Here we have a direct correspondence between confident faith and sure fulfillment. At first Mary was disturbed (verse 29), then she expressed incredulity (verse 34), but, finally, in verse 38 she expressed submission according to what the Lord said.
The Holy Spirit told Elizabeth that Mary was blessed in the sense that confident faith corresponded with sure fulfillment.
The Lord spoke to her through the agency of the angel Gabriel.
Here Lord denotes Jahweh, the God of promise. The doctrine of the Trinity is implicit in this text. Jesus is Lord, promised by the Lord. And both natures in Christ are implicit in verses 42 and 43.
Additional thought: Is Elizabeth comparing Zacharias and Mary in this text and commending Mary for believing heartily, whereas Zacharias did not, at first? The text does not say that, though it does occur to the reader. Furthermore, some commentators point out that verse 42 indicates that Elizabeth is not in the least bit jealous of Mary, for she implies that Mary is the most blessed among women.