57 When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her.
59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”
61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.
65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.
67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.
71 Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us.
72 He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham.
74 We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.
76 And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.
Because of God’s tender mercy, a gentle sunrise is breaking through the darkness, freeing us from our enemies and enabling us to serve God without fear, doing what is holy and just. Zechariah’s prophecy echoes Mary’s song and continues Luke’s introduction to his Gospel. As we noted yesterday, these are not misguided expectations, they are here to help us understand the remainder of Luke’s account. Just as it will be concerned with economic reversal, it will also be concerned with deliverance from enemies, holiness, justice, salvation, and the path of peace. These themes may also be found in Mark and Matthew, but we will see Luke ordering his account to place special emphasis on Gospel themes that he may have regarded as underdeveloped. Luke made use of both Mark and Matthew, so we will pay closer attention to how he reorders their material. That may sound like dry work, but it will yield fruit that accentuates these early prophetic words. It would be good to get these firmly in your mind and heart as we proceed.
The New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.