December 11th, 2022: The Birth of John the Baptist-Luke 1:57-79
7 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
58 And her neighbors and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.
59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.
A long-awaited child has been born. No doubt Zacharias and Elizabeth endured disappointment and heartache over the many years they waited for God to answer their prayer and give them a child. They didn’t get an immediate answer to their prayers, but they remained faithful. They were believers in God and obeyed Him faithfully.
Likewise, within the nation of Israel, a remnant of faithful believers had passed on to their children the promise of God about the Messiah. They had remained faithful through political uprisings, wars, and captivity. They hadn’t lost hope that God would keep his word.
When John the Baptist was born, he was not named after his father. The era of human priests standing in the gap between God and the people was officially coming to a close. John was born to prepare the people for the great high priest, Jesus Christ the righteous. John’s birth marked a new beginning for faithful believers in God, as he would point them to the Son of God, who would bridge the gap perfectly and make intercession for all that put their trust in Him. He wasn’t named after the new priest but instead was given the name John, which in Hebrew means “God has been gracious.”
61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marveled all.
Rarely do the people around us understand the things that God is performing in our lives. Elizabeth is disbelieved when she says the baby will have the name God chose for him. The guests plead their case to a higher authority, Zacharias. “Surely, your wife is mistaken, after all you’ve waited your entire lifetime for a son to bring you glory by carrying your name.” But John the Baptist was born with the mission of bringing glory to the Son of God.
64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.
65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
His silence, his choice of a name, and the timing of his healing all caused wonder and confusion among his friends and neighbors. “Behold, I do a new thing,” the Lord said in Isaiah. News spread quickly that highly unusual things were happening. To those longing for Him, perhaps it occurred to them that God had begun to move.
66 And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
If you are a New Testament Christian, please don’t miss this verse. Being filled with the spirit was not the ordinary state of man. The Holy Spirit of God came upon men rarely before the resurrection of Christ. It was something that drew the attention of all those present. It wasn’t a feeling, and it wasn’t a human action. It was an obviously divine intervention in their lives. It was unmistakable. And this is what the Holy Spirit had to say through Zacharias:
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Here are a few terms to consider:
Redeemed: to be redeemed is to be bought back. In what way had Israel been sold? They had sold themselves to false gods, resulting in being controlled by godless men. All of mankind sold themselves when in the Garden of Eden, Adam chose the way of the evil one over the Word of God. Because we had no power to fix our mess, God himself came to redeem us.
Horn of Salvation: when in battle, a horn would be blown to signify to the soldiers that the tide was turning and victory was sure. This phrase is especially used in the Old Testament when the soldiers are fighting for freedom against a powerful oppressor. Our Lord Jesus actually won the battle for our souls before He created the world. That’s hard to comprehend, but even before He was born, Zacharias declared victory and shouted praise and honor for the savior of the world.
Holy Covenant: God made promises to Abraham, to Issac, to Jacob, to Joseph, to Moses, and on and on and on. He had always kept His word, and what He foretold had come to pass. In each covenant, the promise of a future descendant, king, prophet, and savior had been a part. John’s birth is an announcement that, once again, God was doing all that He said he would do.
The Dayspring from on High: the sun is rising on a brand new day. John’s birth and the coming Jesus signify that the Law would be fulfilled and a new day of Grace was dawning. The long-awaited hope was about to make His appearance. For so long, nothing but darkness and confusion had been the accepted norm, but no longer, God Himself was coming, and His words would turn the world upside down.
This was no ordinary birth, John would be the birth announcement for the Lord. His ministry would be large and faithful, it would gather the first believers and new testament saints together to be saved through the power of Christ. Glory to God!