In the previous verses we read of Mary going out into the hill country to a city of Judah, where she went into the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth who was aware that Mary was with child. In these next verses we meet Elizabeth’s child John, soon to be born and will become known as John the Baptizer, this child was to do great things, a special child, already posing the question among all the neighbors …’What will this child turn out to be, for the hand of the Lord is with him?’ Here Jewish tradition and law enter the story…
In Palestine the birth of a boy was an occasion of great joy. Add to this the fact that Elizabeth, already considered to be past the age of conceiving has been delivered of a boy child, the musicians and all those gathered there broke into song, congratulations and rejoicing. Elizabeth now had the child she and Zacharias had prayed so long for…a boy, it was truly a double blessing and double joy. Jewish law required that a male child be circumcised on the eighth day and be given a name. In Palestine names were descriptive. Elizabeth surprised her neighbors and friends by insisting that her son must be called John, to which Zacharias also agreed. This was the name God instructed be given the child, as it means Yahweh’s gift or God is gracious. It pointed to the parents gratitude and unexpected joy. For all those who had heard the amazing story of how God had blessed the parents and honored their prayers, there was the inevitable question…‘What will this child turn out to be?’
Zacharias had high hopes for his son. He envisioned him to be a prophet and the forerunner who would prepare the way of the Lord. The Messiah, God’s anointed king, a day and time every Jew hoped and longed for would come soon. Zacharias considered his son to be the one who would prepare the way for the coming of God’s king. He would the one who would baptize the people, preparing them for the coming of the Son of God, the Messiah.
Zacharias, speaking of his son gives us a picture of what this preparation will consist of.
75 in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
-We should live our lives in preparation for the Lord’s coming.
-There will be a knowledge of what God is really like when the Messiah comes.
-There will be forgiveness and the restoration of our relationship with God.
-With Christ we are enabled to walk in the ways that lead to everything that means life, and no longer to all that means death.
We often pass by John the gift that is hid behind the greatest gift, the coming of God’s son and the mending of the relationship between God and his people. The Greatest Story Ever Told…ushered in by angels on high and a strange man in animal skins…
John The Baptist.
Life is Good