The Birth of John the Baptist

In Luke 1:57, Elizabeth  bears a son, and all of their friends and relatives rejoiced with her. On the eighth day, they came to circumcise him, according to Mosaic Law (Genesis 17:12, Leviticus 12:3). Everyone fully expected the child to be named Zechariah after his father, but when Elizabeth told them that his name was John, they appealed to Zechariah to make a sign – as he was still mute.

When Zechariah wrote that the child’s name was John as well, he then became able to speak again, praising God. This event, together with the very fact that this couple beyond child-bearing years now had a son, spread news and wonder throughout the hill country that God’s hand was surely involved. This child, they knew, was going to be special.

Birth of St. John the Baptist, depicting Zecha...

Birth of St. John the Baptist, depicting Zechariah writing, “His name is John”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, began to prophesy and from verses 68-79, he says a great deal about his son and his calling, as well as the coming savior, that he would not have known without such divine guidance. In verse 69, the “horn of salvation” that God has raised up is of course, Jesus. The horn was a symbol of strength and power, and is referred to in many Bible passages, including Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2. In the ensuing verses, he continues to speak of this salvation in terms of the covenant with Abraham and his descendants.

Then, in verse 79, he addresses the child, saying that he “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 in the forgiveness of their sins…” The first part is in keeping with what is foretold in Malachi 3:1, and Isaiah 40:3. And true forgiveness of sins is part of the new covenant that was promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34, which is affirmed by Jesus during the institution of the Lord’s Supper in Matthew 26:28, when he spoke of “my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

In confirmation of just how special this child was to be, verse 80 tells the reader that he “grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” John the Baptist would wait for his calling from the Lord.

(This year’s reading schedule for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at

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