Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
At the age of 26 my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world. I can still remember how excited and overwhelmed I felt awaiting her arrival.
Would we have a boy or a girl? Would she be healthy? Would mom be okay through the delivery? I cannot express in words what it felt like to hold our child, but every parent knows what I’m talking about.
Have you ever waited expectantly for the birth of a child you loved and could not wait to meet? That is the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth.
This barren and broken elderly couple had been waiting for decades to be graced with the gift of a baby. Additionally, the world had been awaiting the arrival of their son for hundreds of years since the prophets promised his coming.
Now, John’s birth has finally arrived, and we get to share in Zechariah and Elizabeth’s joy as they celebrate the birth of their son. Everyone was clamoring to name the child; it’s amazing how some things never change. All of the relatives pressured the couple to stick with tradition and name the boy Zechariah, after his father.
Elizabeth tried to explain that the angel Gabriel had already instructed them to name the child John. The people looked to Zechariah for confirmation, but he was still unable to speak, ever since his initial unbelief that he would ever be a father. He can still communicate, however, so Zechariah takes up a pen and paper and writes, “His name is John.”
“And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed,” Luke tells us, “and he spoke, blessing God” (Luke 1:64). The first words out of Zechariah’s mouth in nine long months are words of prophetic praise to the Lord.
All of this provoked wonder in the people of this quiet little town. The Bible tells us that they thought, “What then will this child be?” (Luke 1:66) We learn from Gabriel, Zechariah’s prophesy, and Jesus’ word later on that, other than Jesus, this child John will be no less than the greatest man who ever lived.
When you think of godly parents, who comes to mind that you know? How can you encourage them today?