Luke: The Birth of John the Baptist and Zechariah’s Song

Read: Luke 1:57-80

I’ve been using the NIVAC (NIV Application Commentary) to unpack each section of scripture, to learn from scholars who’ve invested their lives in understanding Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and complex histories about the life and time of those who walked with Jesus. Today’s passage is wonderful. I’m excited to add some thoughts on Luke’s words here, but please take time to read the next post that focuses on the NIVAC’s prophetic coverage of this section.

We start off with the birth of John the Baptist. He’s born to parents who have been blessed by God to have a child in their old age that will serve the Lord like no other. Elizabeth has no doubt spoken to her neighbors and relatives about the favor shown on her.

Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. Luke 1:58

She uses this as an opportunity for evangelism in an age were mysticism and a plethora of gods would have been sought for fertility and help. This is not some goddess, this is a gift from the one true God—have no doubt people!

After all these years, Zechariah’s son would surely carry his name, right?

but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” Luke 1:60

It makes sense to name the boy Zechariah, but Elizabeth and Zechariah both knew this was a sign from God. Did God reveal the name to Elizabeth? Or did Zechariah write that out at some point in the last 9 months?

Does peer pressure win? Is doing what the Jones’s would do more important than what God requires? My imagination runs a bit wild here. What would it be like to have 9+ months of silence to reflect on my life and service to God? Would I be bitter? Or would I fully confess Christ as savior? I know what the church answer is, but I wonder how well I would do after the third or fourth day, week or month.

I get the idea that Zechariah had a lot of time to reflect about this event. He was a priest, a godly man; married to a woman who also honored God. They’ve be careful to honor the Lord for decades, why would this change now?

Zechariah reinforces his wife’s assertion that his name will break tradition, that he will be called John.

Silence is broken.

With that public proclamation, the curse of Gabriel is broken and Zechariah can now speak again. The first words from his mouth are those of praise to God. Surely, he’s rehearsed the words in his mind over the last months. He’s not been in solitary confinement, but unable to orally express thoughts in a culture steeped in oral tradition must have been trying to say the least.

Zechariah’s had lots of time to consider this moment and he wastes no time in declaring God’s sovereignty over this child’s role in life:

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; 
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,

because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Luke 1:76, 78-79

Luke sets up his message carefully, with great intentionality. This would be a special child indeed!

And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel. Luke 1:80

Secluded. Shielded from others. Sometimes I wonder if it is necessary to be so worldly in order to be effective.

Will I be a saint in my seventies? Continuously looking to serve the Lord, to understand Him better? Surely there is much to learn, more lessons for myself, more things to do for Christ. I hope and pray I can keep learning until my days on earth are done.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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