57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
When compared to the other NT Gospels, the Gospel of Luke is most noteworthy for its narrative about the birth of Jesus and also John the Baptist. If we look earlier in the first chapter of the book of Luke we see Zechariah and Elizabeth presented as persons of advance status and religious honor. In contrast we see Mary as a young girl, having no stature, and based on what we know of society at this time, in her early teens. We see God’s character at work, demonstrating compassion and blessing an innocent girl by placing Mary in God’s household. For Elizabeth, childlessness has been a source of shame for many years but now her pregnancy can also only be seen as God’s intervention, divine favor.
In verses 12 through 16 we see an angel of the Lord appearing before Zechariah to tell him that his wife will bear a son whom you will name John and he will be great in the sight of the Lord. More than that, the Angel states that John will turn many of the people of Israel to God.
Verse 64, we see that as soon as Zechariah writes the truth of what the angel told him, you will name the baby John, God returns his ability to speak, and he wasted no time in praising God.
In verses 65 and 66 Luke notes that the birth, naming process and seemingly miraculous return of speech are so momentous that the family and neighbors are awe struck that the story quickly spreads throughout the region. Verse 66, if we didn’t get the message already, describes the birth of John and what he will become as so great and considerable that the people wouldn’t forget and sensed the very presence of God.
by Clarence Beverage
The books of John, Mark and Matthew mention people traveling from Jerusalem to hear John speak. Clearly the Holy Spirit was with him. He was truly one of a kind, a voice blessed with a purpose, brought to pave the way for Jesus in that time.
In our lives today can people still be led to God in such a dynamic way? Perhaps the question is do we have the time to know, to recognize, and hear a voice? Especially at this time, may you experience something new and help someone else to experience that as well.
For Pondering & Prayer
Prayer: Dear Lord, may we ponder the ending of Zechariah’s prophecy, and by your tender mercy, let the dawn from on high break upon us giving light, even to those who sit in darkness, and guide us in the way of peace. Amen.