61They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name."
62Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him.
67His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his people.
69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace."
80And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. (NIV)
Gleanings from this Passage
1. The LORD is merciful to His people, particularly when they persevere through trials.
“Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy” (v. 58)
2. God’s people are to be agents of blessing to each other.
“they shared her joy” (v. 58)
3. The will of God must take precedence over human tradition.
“they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John." (vv. 59-60)
- this name was given as a command from God as spoken by Gabriel (1:13)
- Mk 7:6-12 – Jesus takes issue with Pharisses and law-teachers about the way they put their traditions above God’s word
- Ac 5:29 – “we must obey God rather than men!”
4. The LORD’s chastening of His people brings forth the growth and maturity of faith.
- contrast Zechariah’s response to God’s will in vv. 62-64 with his attitude in vv. 18-20
- Heb 12:6 – The LORD disciplines those he loves.
- The movement from rebuke to restoration is reflective of God’s care, as expressed in Ps. 30:5
5. The LORD will deliver His people from sin, because He is merciful.“he has come and…. redeemed his people” (v. 68)
“to show mercy to our fathers” (v. 72)
“to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins, because of the tender mercy of our God” (vv. 77, 78)
- it helps us to recall that God’s saving mercy is something He is not obligated to give to anyone (Rom 9:18), but is borne of His own good pleasure and will (Eph 1:4-5).
6. The LORD will deliver His people from their enemies.“salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us” (v.71)
- Zechariah may have had the Roman Empire in mind when he said this, and yet - who are really our enemies (Eph 6:10-18; 1 Pet 5:8-9)? Who did Jesus gain victory over through his death and resurrection (Col 2:13-15; Heb 2:14-15; 1 Jn 3:8; Rev 20:7-10)?
7. The LORD fulfills His promises.
“raised up a horn of salvation for us” (v. 69; cf. Ps 18:2; 148:14)
“to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham” (Gen 22:15-18; Heb 6:13-20)
8. The LORD seeks to make His people holy servants for all eternity.
“to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (vv. 74-75)
“will come to us from heaven…to guide our feet into the path of peace” (vv. 78-79)
Eph 5:25-27 – it is Christ’s intention to present God’s people to himself as “a radiant church…holy and blameless.”
Tit 2:14 - Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
I. Which aspects do you find comforting? Why?
II. Which aspects do you find humbling? Why?
III. Which aspects tend to be ones that we in the church today don’t talk about as much as we could or should? Why do you think that is?