When new babies are born, people always make a fuss over them. If you've ever had a baby brother or sister born into your family, you may have felt like your mom and dad forgot about you for a little while. However, the fuss that was made over your baby brother or sister was nothing compared to the one that was made over John the Baptist when he was born. Everybody was talking about it for miles around---a baby had been born to an old woman! Plus, an angel had appeared to the baby's father, who had been unable to speak for nine months! Everyone who heard about it knew that Zechariah and Elizabeth had a special son for whom God had a special plan.
The people of Israel had been given many laws by God, one of which concerned baby boys. All of them were supposed to be circumcised on the eighth day of their lives. To be circumcised means to have a little piece of skin removed from a boy's private parts. It hurts for a little while, but quickly heals like any other cut. All the Israelite boys were supposed to be circumcised in order to mark them as being God's people. It showed that they belonged to God.
Like all other baby boys in Israel, John the Baptist was circumcised on the eighth day of his life, and that is when he was given the name John according to the instructions of the angel who appeared to his father. John means "God is very kind."
On the day of John's circumcision, his father was suddenly able to speak once again, and the first thing he spoke was praise to God. Soon after, the Holy Spirit spoke through him in a beautiful prophecy. If you listened to it closely, you probably noticed that the prophecy was more about Jesus than John. That's because Jesus was a million times more important than John. John was only a man made great by God. Jesus was God. Zechariah's prophecy revealed that it was God's plan for John to prepare the way for Jesus to begin His ministry.
What did Zechariah's prophecy say regarding Jesus? It revealed that Jesus was God. It said that God would visit His people (see Luke 1:68).
When He visited, God would redeem His people (see Luke 1:68). In the New Testament, the word redeem means to purchase someone's freedom from being a slave. Before we were born again, we were slaves to selfishness, sin and Satan.
Zechariah's prophecy also revealed that Jesus would be a mighty Savior (see Luke 1:69). We needed someone to save us from the penalty for our sins: eternal separation from God in hell. Through our Savior, our sins have been forgiven because of God's wonderful mercy (see Luke 1:77-78).
That Savior would be a descendant of King David, just as God had promised David a thousand years before (see Luke 1:69b-70).
Jesus would also save God's people from their enemies. Through Jesus, we've already been saved from our spiritual enemies: Satan and his evil spirits. They can't control us as they used to. Now, as Zechariah said, we can serve God without fear of them (see Luke 1:74). And one day, all of God's people will be saved from their physical enemies, when we live in God's eternal kingdom. There won't be anyone there who hates us.
The truth that Jesus would bring to the people of the earth would be like light coming down from heaven. No longer would we have to stumble around in darkness, not knowing where we are going. His truth would guide us into peace (see Luke 1:79). Aren't you glad that Jesus came?
Q. Is there any evidence in today's reading that Zechariah was not only temporarily mute, but also temporarily deaf?
A. Yes. Read Luke 1:62 closely. If Zechariah had been able to hear, his friends and relatives wouldn't have needed to communicate to him "by making gestures."
Q. If you were unable to speak for nine months, what would be the first words out of your mouth when your speech was restored? Why?
Application: Isn't it amazing that God had a plan for John's life even before he was born? Did you know that, according to Ephesians 2:10, God also had a plan for our lives even before we were born? All of God's children are somewhat like John the Baptist. Like John, our main job is to get people ready to meet the Lord.
Family Devotion Subscription
To subscribe to the Family-Style Devotions by David Servant, simply submit your e-mail address below. You will receive a family devotional each weekday morning.