JOHN THE BAPTIST IS BORN AND NAMED
ZECHARIAH FORETELLS JOHN’S FUTURE ROLE
Elizabeth is almost ready to have her baby. For three months, her relative Mary has been staying with her. Now it is time for Mary to say good-bye and make the long trip north to her home in Nazareth. In about six months, she too will have a son.
Soon after Mary leaves, Elizabeth gives birth. What joy there is that the birth is successful and that Elizabeth and the baby are in good health! When Elizabeth shows her little son to neighbors and relatives, they rejoice with her.
God’s Law to Israel said that on the eighth day after his birth, a baby boy must be circumcised, and he was also named then. (Leviticus 12:2, 3) Some feel that Zechariah’s son should be named after him. However, Elizabeth speaks up, saying: “No! but he will be called John.” (Luke 1:60) Recall that the angel Gabriel said that this baby should be named John.
The neighbors and relatives protest: “Not one of your relatives is called by this name.” (Luke 1:61) Using gestures, they ask Zechariah what he wants to name his son. Zechariah asks for a tablet and writes his answer: “John is his name.”—Luke 1:63.
With that, Zechariah’s speech is miraculously restored. You may recall that he lost his ability to speak when he did not believe what the angel said—namely, that Elizabeth would have a son. So now, when Zechariah speaks, his neighbors are amazed and ask themselves: “What will this young child turn out to be?” (Luke 1:66) They see God’s hand in the way John was given his name.
Then, filled with holy spirit, Zechariah declares: “Let Jehovah be praised, the God of Israel, because he has turned his attention to his people and has brought them deliverance. And he has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David his servant.” (Luke 1:68, 69) By “horn of salvation,” he means the Lord Jesus, who is yet to be born. By means of that One, Zechariah says, God will “grant us, after we have been rescued from the hands of enemies, the privilege of fearlessly rendering sacred service to him with loyalty and righteousness before him all our days.”—Luke 1:74, 75.
Regarding his son, Zechariah foretells: “As for you, young child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go ahead of Jehovah to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender compassion of our God. With this compassion a daybreak will visit us from on high, to give light to those sitting in darkness and death’s shadow and to guide our feet in the way of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79) How encouraging that prophecy is!
By this time Mary, who evidently is not yet married, has arrived home in Nazareth. What will happen to her when it becomes obvious that she is pregnant?