Luke 1:57-80— The Birth of John the Baptist

57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

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

62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,

because he has come to his people and redeemed them.

69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David

70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),

71 salvation from our enemies

and from the hand of all who hate us—

72 to show mercy to our ancestors

and to remember his holy covenant,

73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:

74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,

and to enable us to serve him without fear

75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76 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,

77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation

through the forgiveness of their sins,

78 because of the tender mercy of our God,

by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

79 to shine on those living in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

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

Points of Interest:

  • (v.64) “Immediately his mouth was opened”—the very next words out of Zechariah’s mouth after his doubting question nine months earlier are words of praise!
  • (v.69) “a horn of salvation”—horns are symbols of strength and power.
  • (v.73) “the oath he swore to our father Abraham”—Zechariah is probably referring to God’s promise in Genesis 15 that he would free Abraham’s descendants from slavery and give them their own land.
  • (v.74) “to rescue us from the hand of our enemies”—it would be natural to assume that these enemies are the Romans. Just like he once freed them from the Egyptians, he would now free Israel from the Romans. This political interpretation was, in fact, very common in Zechariah’s time. However, it doesn’t seem that it is what Zechariah has in mind. The specific enemies he mentions are sins and death.
  • (v.79) “to shine on those living in darkness”—another reference to Isaiah 9: “The people walking in darkness/have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2).

Taking it home:

  • For you: There’s something fun and powerful about praising God out loud. I know that when I choose to speak out loud about God’s goodness (even when I’m just talking to myself), I almost always find myself feeling better, and I have a feeling that more of God’s goodness is being unleashed in my life. Think of something today that you are grateful for and try thanking God out loud. You could use your own words, or use Mary’s song from yesterday or a psalm like Psalm 100 as a guide.
  • For your Six: Elizabeth and Zechariah’s faith causes them to do something unusual in naming their child. This strange choice intrigues their friends, provoking wonder and curiosity. Elizabeth and Zechariah’s willingness to do the unexpected seems to open everyone up to the possibility that God might do something extraordinary. Have you made a strange faith choice recently? Do any of your Six know about it? Pray that as you follow Jesus into His next step for you, wonder and curiosity would be stirred up in your Six.
  • For our church/ILTJ: This supernatural birth is not just a private affair. The whole neighborhood is celebrating Elizabeth and Zechariah’s good fortune, debating together about what the child should be named, and discussing together what all of these things might mean. It’s one of our hopes for our church that we would be known widely as a place where supernatural things happen. Already, we’ve seen some pretty remarkable things: people being healed of sicknesses, unexpected provision of money or jobs, and all sorts of other things. Pray that our church would continue to see more of God’s supernatural activity, and that it wouldn’t just be our own private experience but the talk of the town.

Family/Household Option:

  • To talk about: Zechariah couldn’t talk for a really long time. Imagine what it must have been like for him to not communicate for all that time. You can imagine it was a little bit like playing charades – maybe he drew lots of pictures or wrote things down.
  • To Do: Try doing that right now – everyone write a sentence on a sheet of paper. Put them in a bowl and then play a game where all you can do is communicate with drawn pictures to guess what the sentence says. That may be a little fun to do in a game for a while, but Zechariah lived that way for probably almost a year. That doesn’t sound fun to me. Take a few minutes to thank and praise God for the use of words to communicate with each other and with God.