Luke 1:56-66 (NIV) Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.
“They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
Mary stayed with Elizabeth until after the birth and circumcision of John, so she was able to give Luke a play-by-play of all that happened. John was born right on time, and was a strong and healthy baby. Zechariah still had not regained his voice. The pregnancy was not enough to complete the sign; the child had to be born, and be given the name of John.
The ability to name him John, however, was more complicated than it seems like it should have been. Jewish sons were usually named at the time of their circumcision, and firstborn sons were frequently named after the father, or after another close relative. Since Zechariah couldn’t speak, the consensus of the gathered family and friends was that the baby should be named Zechariah, after his father.
Elizabeth spoke right up. She knew what the angel had said to Zechariah, and that the baby’s name was to be John. Remember that both she and Zechariah were “upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” (Luke 1:6) And there was no way that either of them was going to start disobeying God now in the face of this amazing miracle He had brought them.
It was highly irregular for the mother to have any part in the naming of a child, and some of the gathered family and friends rebelled against the idea of not naming the child for a relative. But Zechariah had the final say. Even though he had to write it out instead of speaking it, his words were simple and eloquent: “His name is John.” As far as Zechariah could see, no one got to have a say in naming the boy, since God had already given him the name that He wanted him to have.
That final act of obedience, of faith made real by action, opened Zechariah’s lips and fully restored his voice. It is significant that his first words were pure praise. It had all been bottled up inside of him for nearly ten months with no way to get out. Now that he had been given back his voice, he used it to praise the God who had done so much for him and his wife.
The people had never experienced anything like this. Now that Zechariah could talk, he poured out the story of his encounter with the angel in the temple, making all of them wonder what the Lord was doing. He had been silent and largely invisible for four long centuries, but now it seemed that he was on the move again. And, if that was the case, practically anything could happen.
Father, You are always 100% faithful, and You always keep every promise You make to those who honor You and who obey Your commandments. Help me to be as faithful as Zechariah, Elizabeth, and even Mary, so that You can do amazing things through me as well. Amen.