The Birth of John (20-12-21)
When Zechariah was told by Gabriel that he and Elizabeth would have a son in their old age he initially disbelieved. As a result of this he became dumb until the day the promise was fulfilled.
Bible Reading: Luke 1:57-66
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John." They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name." Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.
All the neighbours were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him.
Mary’s elderly cousin, Elizabeth, gave birth to a son, as promised to her husband, Zechariah and it would have been traditional in those days for the firstborn son to be named after his father. However, Gabriel had told Zechariah that the child was to be called John and so, when it came to naming him, and Elizabeth’s instructions were queried, Zechariah confirms that the child is indeed to be called John.
The choice of name for the child who would grow up to prepare the way for his cousin, the coming Messiah, is significant. The name ‘Zechariah’ means ‘The Lord has remembered’ while the name ‘John’ means ‘God is gracious’; names that would have personal significance for Elizabeth and Zechariah and would also have significance for the nation of Israel and for the whole of humanity.
Through all the difficulties that God's people had faced, the Lord had remembered. Through all the hardships and oppression, in all the times when God’s blessings seemed to belong to a former life and his promises were but a distant memory, through all of this they were not forgotten; the Lord had remembered. Now, at the right time, he was going to act, he was going to redeem his people.
Are there times when you have felt that God has forgotten you? Be encouraged, the Lord has remembered. At the right time he sent Jesus to be your Saviour, at the right time he sent his Holy Spirit to be your comfort and your guide and at the right time he will answer your prayers.
Not only has God remembered, God is gracious. God’s grace is at the root of Gabriel’s words to Mary that she was ‘highly favoured’ and God’s grace is at the root of the name ‘John’. God’s grace, the blessings we don’t deserve, and the means to forgiveness of all that we have done wrong, is abundant.
God’s grace runs through the whole of the New Testament and it is there for you and me today.
Gracious God, thank you that you have remembered me. Give me the grace to trust you when life is tough and disappointing.
Your grace is enough