Scripture: Luke 1:57-80
The Birth of John the Baptist
57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us 74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you didn’t know what was going on and you were left standing there confused and frightened? That’s how Luke describes the people who had come out to celebrate the birth of John (the Baptist). They had been invited to the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth to celebrate the circumcision of their new born son that the Lord blessed them with in their old age. This was also the time when the child was officially named. Back in the time of the Old and New Testament the naming of a child was a big deal.
That is why when Elizabeth announced (because Zechariah was still struck mute) that the child’s name was “John” everyone was confused. No one in the family had that name. Why would they not name the child after the Father – Zechariah Junior? Why not name him after a grandfather, uncle or great historical figure?
Everyone was confused by this choice, but they didn’t have much time to ponder it because at the very moment of this announcement, Zechariah’s tongue was “freed” and he began to speak about meeting God. He praised the Lord for the gift of the child, and the ministry to which the child had already been called to.
Throughout Luke’s Gospel we find that people aren’t always perceptive to the spiritual aspect of life, but in this case the people of the village truly were. We are told “fear came over” them. Peterson translates the verse: “A deep, reverential fear settled over the neighborhood.” No one knew what was happening, but they did know it was something big, and it was all happening by the hand of God. They exclaim, “What then will this child become?”
How often after the birth of a child in the family, does everyone sit around and try to guess what that little baby “will become”? It’s a fun question to ask and speculate about. But here is the catch: All of us, have to ask that same question about ourselves! “What does God want me to become?” “What is God calling me to be today? A peacemaker, a prophet, a person of hospitality, a deliverer of love or of hope?” Each day we should wake up and ask ourselves this question: “Who is God calling me to be today?”
If that question seems too broad for you to answer, just reading the Scripture for today. In Zechariah’s great prophecy he proclaims what God is asking his child to become: A person who is “to give knowledge of salvation to his people, to announce the forgiveness of their sins ... to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide people into the way of peace” (vv. 77-79).
Something huge happened in that small village in Judea, and something big is happening in your community today! You have been blessed with the gift of life for another day! With this gift comes a question – “What is God calling me to be today?” Rest in that question for a while and see where the Lord calls you to travel.
God bless you on your holy journey.
~ Pastor Dan