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LUKE - Christ, the Savior of the World
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to Luke


4. The Birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-80)

LUKE 1:57-66
57 Now the time that Elizabeth should give birth was fulfilled, and she brought forth a son. 58 Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 It happened on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of the father. 60 His mother answered, “Not so; but he will be called John.” 61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 They made signs to his father, what he would have him called. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” They all marveled. 64 His mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue freed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 Fear came on all who lived around them, and all these sayings were talked about throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, “What then will this child be?” The hand of the Lord was with him.

The grace of God develops gradually in the life of the elect, and nobody can stop it. John, who was filled with the Spirit, was born of a mother who had been childless. In this manner the forerunner of Christ who prepared the way of his Lord was found, and "the greatest among those born of women" appeared. The relatives and neighbors rejoiced greatly at the mercy of God who granted the mute priest a child to succeed him. They glorified God and rejoiced at his favor. Then the boy received the customary rites of circumcision and was given a name. Those present marveled when the mother asked, on behalf of her dumb husband, that her child be called John, instead of Zacharias, contrary to their custom. Why would this woman break the rule of her people? Zacharias was a suitable name meaning “God has remembered us”. The neighbors were very upset and asked the dumb father to speak or to express his opinion in signs. The poor father had been mute for nine months in the school of the Holy Spirit keeping his secrets in his heart. However, from the beginning of his dumbness, he wrote to his wife in brief on a writing tablet what the angel told him to do. Both Zacharias and his wife were pleased when the mother became pregnant. Thus John, before his birth, became a sign of repentance for his father. The blessing became a reproach. Zacharias studies the scriptures and prayed continuously, knowing that his affliction signified a punishment from God for his unbelief.

Zacharias also knew that the impediment of his tongue would be loosed when his child, given by God, is born. Yet, when the child was born and his tongue remained unloosed, he doubted: Could his faith be unfounded, and his prayers unanswered? But the child was brought to express the work of grace. The father decided, as the angel had directed, to iqnore all human opinions, and to place his hope completely on grace. So he wrote on the tablet that the name of his firstborn child should be John as a sign of the age of grace to come.

Having held fast to God’s promises and command, Zacharias passed the last test of faith and the impediment of his tongue was loosed. His imprisoned words came out easily and gracefully, praising the Lord from the innermost recesses of his heart. Zacharias glorified God, revealed the secrets of his child’s birth, told those present about the angel and his words, and showed them how God intervened in his life.

Thereupon the people became afraid, for they knew from their own history that God created children in strange ways before making radical changes in the course of their nation’s life, as had happened with Isaac, Moses, and Samuel. Whereas the sign of the angel’s revelation was the coming of Christ whose way would be prepared by John, the religious and political leaders became frightened at the plans of God about to happen. Some of them hoped for repentance, renewal, justice, and raising of the dead in their nation when Christ came. Others rejoiced in themselves and hoped they would be delivered from the yoke of occupation. They did not realize at all that Christ does not build his kingdom on weapons and armies but through the pouring of the Holy Spirit who created repentance, conversion, and renewal of hearts by his grace.

The birth of the Baptist resulted in a deep movement in the holy land before he began to speak the words of his message.

PRAYER: Lord! Teach me faith, especially when your directions are not easily understood by me. Help me to testify according to your word when people contradict me, so that I may praise you, for your salvation is coming, your kingdom is apparent, and your Spirit renews millions. Thank you for you have begotten us in the age of grace.

QUESTION 19: Why was it necessary for Zacharias to wait until the impediment of his tongue was loosed in order to call his son John?


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