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 set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were 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[c] 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[d]; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.
Sharing Their Joy
The expectation in Luke 1 is strong. Both Mary and Elizabeth are holding remarkable children in their wombs. 9 months is a good amount of time for the tension to build. Then finally John does come onto the scene and now Zachariah’s joy is visible and his song is heard. He longs for the restoration of Israel. His song has a national air to it. Maybe he thought his son would prepare the way for an uprising like that of the Maccabbees over Antiochus. However, he knows his people have been living in dark oppression and he is thrilled that his son will be a part of the light that is coming into the world.
I have spoken with Moody students today and felt the joy rise within me as I see the Holy Spirit direct the discussion. I can not predict his movement, but I can see it at work. I struggle with joy in different venues, but when I see myself used as an instrument in God’s plans I sense that I am part of something larger than myself. Like the characters in Jesus’ story, we all need to submit to God and be available for him to work. As we see the Creator work through us, his creation, we have a sense of this is how the world was meant to be. Then joy breaks out.
I have shared the joy of those who I have met with today. I have seen how you have worked in their lives and how you have worked in mine for their good. I am grateful for that.
- What is the cause of joy in this passage?
- How does Zechariah respond?
- How does God reveal himself through these characters’ lives?
- What causes you joy?
- How could God use you to bring about real rejoicing in your church and community?