7584 - Birth of John the Baptist


Today we look at the birth of the prophet, John the Baptist.

In our study of Luke’s gospel we have come to verse 57.

Listen as I read Luke 1:57-66:
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John."

They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name."

Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him.

To those who have followed this unfolding drama in this chapter, it is no surprise that Elizabeth gave birth to a baby boy.

His father, Zechariah, a priest, had received all this information from the angel Gabriel more than nine months before the birth.

Remember, Zechariah, reacted, as many other people would have acted in similar situations. He heard the angel Gabriel’s announcement that this couple, who had long prayed for a child, had been heard and would become parents of a child.

But the angel gave much more information. He told Zechariah that this son was to be named John. He would be no ordinary person. This boy was to be great in the sight of God. He was to live a pure and holy life. He was to be the fulfillment of prophesy, a man of powerful spirit who would prepare people to receive the coming Messiah.

To a Hebrew priest this was a powerful commission. The priests knew the prophesies about the coming Messiah, the One promised by God, the sin-bearer for all people.

And to be told that his son, John, was to be the one to prepare the way for the Lord brought great elation. However, when Zechariah first heard this from the angel he doubted the message. He said: “How can I be sure of this?” That’s similar to asking for a guarantee. Because of his doubts Zechariah’s speech was silenced until the fulfillment of the message. For more than nine months Zechariah was unable to say a word.

Now the child is born to Elizabeth.

In these days we must remember that people did not know whether the baby would be a boy or a girl. Only by faith did Zechariah and Elizabeth know.

So Elizabeth gave birth to a son. To her relatives, friends and even the people of this area this was a big deal. Not only did they have a child, but the child was a son! To the people this was God’s mercy, and they rejoiced with them. But, honestly, they didn’t know the whole story.

The family and Friends were ready to name this son for his father. But Elizabeth was insistent that he was to be named John, even as the angel had instructed. Upon checking with Zechariah he wrote “his name is John” on a tablet, and the issue was settled.

But more amazing to everyone was the fact that at this time Zechariah’s speech was restored. Immediately Zechariah began praising God for all He had brought about.

Zechariah had changed. No longer is he a skeptic who doubts God’s message. His sin of doubt had been forgiven and Zechariah responded by praise and thanksgiving to the Sovereign God of power who had brought all of this about.

Relatives and friends continued to wonder what was to be in the future. But the Lord’s hand was upon this son, John the Baptist.