Lesson 17—When I Met Jesus I was Filled with the Holy Spirit
I sometimes surprise myself at my own brilliance. OK. I’m only brilliant in my own mind. For example: One day I was reading the Book of Acts about how the Holy Spirit came into the closed room and settled over the heads of the new Christians “like a tongue of fire.”
My mind created a cartoon scene of Christians with ancient oil lamps over their heads. The flame-lit lamps—like light bulbs in modern cartoons—opened their spiritual eyes and gave them an “a-ha!” moment. The ancient light bulb flicked on. The caption read: “I get it! I got it! It’s the Holy Spirit!”
From then on, whenever I think about the Holy Spirit coming upon new Christians, I imagine them with an ancient flame-powered light bulb over their heads, exclaiming, “I get it now! I’ve got it now!”
I think Elizabeth must have had an ancient light bulb moment, too.
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:39-45)
The Holy Spirit is a gift Christians receive when they receive Jesus into their lives. The presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit was left by Jesus when He returned to heaven. (see John 7:37-39, John 14:15-17, John 14:18-31, John 15:26, 27, John 16:7, Acts 2:1-4, Acts 2:38-39, Acts 8:14-24; Acts 10:30-48, Luke 11:9-13).
Before Jesus left the Holy Spirit for us, the presence of the Holy Spirit was rare in people’s lives. There are very few references to people who had the Holy Spirit living in them in the Old Testament. In fact, the Holy Spirit’s presence in Old Testament people’s lives was both selective and often temporary. King David had the Holy Spirit (Psalm 51:11), as did Joseph (Genesis 41:38), Joshua (Numbers 27:18), Daniel (Daniel 4:8), Samson (Judges 13:25), Gideon (Judges 6:34). But few mentions are made of the Holy Spirit being in other believers’ lives, no matter how righteous and God-fearing they were. Rather, often in Old Testament times, once the Spirit’s specific task was completed, the Spirit then left the person. Not until Jesus’ ascension did the Holy Spirit indwell believers and promise to be with them forever.
But right here in Luke we are told that Elizabeth “was filled with the Holy Spirit.” A rarity. Something precious. Something very few people knew before Jesus. Even most of God’s chosen, righteous folks in the Old Testament didn’t have the presence of the Holy Spirit. But Elizabeth did.
As a member of the priestly division, Elizabeth was familiar with Scripture. She understood how special the presence of the Holy Spirit in her was. She sensed the Holy Spirit’s active power within her. Recognition of the Holy Spirit would have given her deeper love for God and deeper commitment to His plan for her life. She knew she was an active part of God’s plan and He was an active part of her life, too.
When we accept Christ into our hearts we also receive the gift of His Spirit. We don’t always recognize it when that happens; often it takes years before we can even sense the Spirit’s presence or leading. But it happens and it is a gift and a miracle. The presence of the Holy Spirit remains one of those mysterious miracles and one of those eternally precious and majestic gifts from God to those who love Him.
If Elizabeth were here she would say this was her story. When she encountered Jesus for the first time, she was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Who are we to God? When we realize the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit we have received when we accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, we know how God might see His women of faith. We can respond:
I am like Elizabeth.
For Thought and Discussion
- Have you clearly sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? Describe the events and circumstances.
- Have you allowed the Spirit to lead your prayer? What happens when you allow that? If not, how might you open your mind to the Spirit’s leading?
- How might you attune your heart better to feel the Spirit’s leading?
PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for leaving the gift of your Spirit in our lives. Spirit, sometimes we can sense you; other times we go on our merry way without even trying to sense your leading. Please help us slow down and wait until your leading is clear. Amen.