Jesus’ Life and Ministry
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 all right! 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!’ she says. ‘He is to be called John.’ Remember, that is the name the angel Gabriel said should be given to the child.
However, their friends protest: ‘There is no one among your relatives with that 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: ‘His name is John.’
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 child become?’
Zechariah is now filled with holy spirit, and he foretells regarding his son: ‘He will be called a prophet of the Most High, and he will go ahead of Jehovah and prepare the way for him. He will tell the people that they must be saved by having their sins forgiven.’
◆ How much older was John than Jesus?
◆ What things happened when John was eight days old?
◆ What work was John foretold to do?