Prepare to Listen. Light the 4 colored candles and let these words prepare your heart to listen: The Lord has shown great mercy, therefore rejoice.
Prayerfully Read Luke 1:57-66
57Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60But his mother said, ‘No; he is to be called John.’ 61They said to her, ‘None of your relatives has this name.’ 62Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63He asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And all of them were amazed. 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65Fear came over all their neighbours, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66All who heard them pondered them and said, ‘What then will this child become?’ For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
I often heard this story when I was a child. Since then, not so much. It seems it’s mostly ignored today. And yet, Luke says more about the birth of John than the birth of Jesus. John’s miraculous birth attracted more attention than Jesus’ birth. Only the shepherds heard about that. John’s birth was broadcast “throughout the entire hill country of Judea.” What amazed the people the most was the name his aged parents gave him.
Just as when Ruth gave birth to her son (Ruth 4:17), the neighbors came to name the child. The chose Zechariah, after his father. It was a good name. Zechariah descended from a long line of priests and was a righteous man (Lk 1:5). His only mistake was not believing the angel Gabriel’s message that his aged and barren wife, Elizabeth would have a son. But Elizabeth stopped her neighbors, insisting, “No; he is to be called John.” She learned this from her husband’s story of his encounter with Gabriel. Since there were no Johns in the family or among the great prophets, the neighbors assumed Zechariah would correct his wife. He didn’t. Shocking the neighbors, he supported her. Immediately his speech returned and, this aged new father could finally praise God out loud, in speech, for his miracle son, John.
The neighbors were filled with fear, wondering what this child would become. They had no idea, but that didn’t stop them telling the story of John’s birth and his name throughout their territory.
Ponder why the neighbors were so intrigued with John’s birth, and name.
Respond to Jesus
Lord, give me the courage of Elizabeth who did not give in to popular opinion. Like her, I desire to follow your word today. Amen.
Live obediently. Follow Jesus even when that’s unpopular.