The Birth of John the Baptist


Luke 1:57-66

All who heard about him took it to heart, saying, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the Lord’s hand was with him (Luke 1:66 CSB).

The birth of a child is an amazing event. With one great final push by the mother, a new little person enters the world. The tiny one announces their arrival in the only way they know, with a loud cry! As soon as they can, the new parents privately count the fingers and toes of their baby to assure themselves that he or she is normal. Meanwhile, the tiny infant tries to adjust their eyes to the wonderfully, horribly, unexpected brightness of their new world. The child’s eyes look upon the parent’s faces for the first time. Do you wonder what our children think when they see us for the first time? Then the baby reaches out a hand to touch, to discover, to explore! It will be many months until the little feet can do more than kick, but one day those feet will take their first steps.

In like manner, John, the forerunner of the Messiah, entered the world. Thirty years would pass before his rich voice would announce, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NIV) On the eighth day of his life, he would make another cry, when he was circumcised according to the covenant. Up to this point, John’s life was very normal. But suddenly, God stirs things up to show that the baby boy will be an extraordinary servant of the Lord.

It happened quite innocently. A simple decision on the part of the family to name him Zechariah after his deaf and mute father. It seems that even two thousand years ago everyone had their two cents to put in about the naming of a baby! (Go ahead; make your suggestion; then tell the parents how wise a choice they made.) Elizabeth knew the word of the Lord that her husband had received, and she shut down their suggestion with an emphatic “No! He is to be called John” (1:60 NIV).

The family obviously didn’t care much for Elizabeth’s decision, and told their “in-law” that she could not wreak havoc with what the family wanted. (Uh, family controversies have been going on for a long time. You can imagine the looks of horror that Elizabeth received. These were real people, like you and me.) Wanting to put Elizabeth in her place, they appealed to the good son to give him the right name. To everyone’s astonishment, Zechariah wrote that his son was to be called John. There might have been repercussions in the family for Zechariah, too, except another promise of God to Zechariah was suddenly fulfilled. He could talk! After nine to ten months of silence, he could praise God for his healing and tell everyone what the Lord had told him.

In this way, God stepped into John’s young life to point out that God would do something special through his life. Dr. Luke provides additional information for his readers. The Lord’s hand was with him. God’s presence. God’s power. What John would need to do what God called him to do. We should also know that God shapes our lives according to his purposes in the gospel. He shows up in our lives that we may live with him for his glory. Walk in this confidence.

Grace and peace, David

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