Summary: In today's lesson we learn how God fulfills his promise.
Today we will study the birth of John the Baptist as it is set forth in Luke 1:57-66. Regarding the birth of John the Baptist, Bible commentator Philip Ryken says:
The opening chapters of Luke are like a duet from an oratorio. One voice begins to sing, followed by another, and then the two voices harmonize. For a while the second voice is silent while the first voice sings alone. Then the first voice leaves off and the second carries the music until finally the song ends with a chorus of angels.
The first melody we hear belongs to John the Baptist. It is the promise of his birth, given to his father Zechariah by an angel, fully believed only by his mother Elizabeth. Then we hear the song of the Savior: the virgin Mary will give birth to the Son of God. When the two mothers meet, their melodies harmonize into one song. But after three months Elizabeth is ready to give birth, and Mary goes back to Nazareth. It is time again to sing the song of John the Baptist.
Let us now read about the birth of John the Baptist in Luke 1:57-66:
57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. (Luke 1:57-66)
There is usually great excitement when a couple conceives a child. This is very true if the couple has had difficulty conceiving.
Then, after the conception, there are the months of preparation and excitement as the couple awaits the arrival of the child. Finally, the child is born, and there is further joy at the birth of that child. Parents love to celebrate with others following the safe arrival of the newborn child.
Luke devotes a significant portion of his Gospel to the conception and birth of two boys. The reason he does so is because both mothers conceived these boys in unusual ways. Elizabeth conceived her son John when she was old and well beyond the age of bearing children. And Mary conceived her son Jesus when she was a young teenager without the intervention of a human father. Both boys were given to their mothers by the promise of God.
In the account regarding the birth of John the Baptist, as he will become known, Luke shows us how God fulfills his promise.
An analysis of the account regarding the birth of John the Baptist as set forth in Luke 1:57-66 will show us how God fulfills his promise.
Luke shows us that God fulfills his promise:
1. At the Birth of John (1:57-58)
2. By the Naming of John (1:59-65a)
3. Through the Destiny of John (1:65b-66)
I. At the Birth of John (1:57-58)
First, God fulfills his promise at the birth of John.
Luke set out to write an orderly account concerning the things regarding the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. He understood that in the Old Testament God had promised his people that he would send them a Savior, someone who would deliver them from their sins.
But for four hundred years God had been silent. There had been no word or no action from God.
Then, without warning, God sent his angel Gabriel to Zechariah while he was serving in the Temple in Jerusalem. Gabriel told Zechariah that God was going to give him and his barren old wife Elizabeth a son who would be the forerunner to the Savior.
For more than four centuries it had seemed as if God’s plan of redemption had come to a grinding halt. But now God was taking action to send a Savior for sinners. And Zechariah’s son would be the messenger, the Savior’s forerunner, the one who would announce his arrival.
Unfortunately, Zechariah doubted Gabriel’s promise that God would give him and Elizabeth a son in their old age. And so the angel struck Zechariah with muteness and told him that he would not be able to speak until the day that these things took place (1:20). And so for nine long months Zechariah was unable to hear or speak to anyone.