The Preparer of the Way Is Born
ELIZABETH is almost ready to have her baby. For these past three months, Mary has been staying with her. But now it is time for Mary to say good-bye and to make the long trip back home to Nazareth. In about six months she too will have a baby.
Soon after Mary leaves, Elizabeth gives birth. What joy there is when the birth is successful and Elizabeth and the baby are in good health! When Elizabeth shows the little one to her neighbors and relatives, they all rejoice with her.
The eighth day after his birth, according to God’s Law, a baby boy in Israel must be circumcised. For this occasion friends and relatives come to visit. They say that the boy should be named after his father, Zechariah. But Elizabeth speaks up. “No, indeed!” she says, “but he shall be called John.” Remember, that is the name the angel Gabriel said should be given to the child.
Their friends, however, protest: “There is no one among your relatives that is called by this name.” Then, using sign language, they ask what his father wants to name the boy. Asking for a writing tablet, Zechariah, to the astonishment of all, writes: “John is its name.”
With that, Zechariah’s speech is miraculously restored. You will recall that he lost his ability to speak when he did not believe the angel’s announcement that Elizabeth would have a child. Well, when Zechariah speaks, all those living in the neighborhood are amazed and say to themselves: “What really will this young child be?”
Zechariah is now filled with holy spirit, and he exults: “Blessed be Jehovah the God of Israel, because he has turned his attention and performed deliverance toward his people. And he has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David his servant.” This “horn of salvation,” of course, is the Lord Jesus, who is yet to be born. By means of him, Zechariah says, God will “grant us, after we have been rescued from the hands of enemies, the privilege of fearlessly rendering sacred service to him with loyalty and righteousness before him all our days.”
Then Zechariah foretells regarding his son, John: “But as for you, young child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go in advance before Jehovah to make his ways ready, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender compassion of our God. With this compassion a daybreak will visit us from on high, to give light to those sitting in darkness and death’s shadow, to direct our feet prosperously in the way of peace.”
▪ How much older is John than Jesus?
▪ What things happen when John is eight days old?
▪ How has God turned his attention to his people?
▪ What work is John foretold to do?