Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home. When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. And when her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father.
But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”
“What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.”
So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God. Awe fell upon the whole neighbourhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 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.Luke 1:56-66
Luke’s description infers Mary stayed until the birth of John but he doesn’t specifically say that. It would be the natural thing for her to do. The way it is written could mean there was a gap between when Mary went home and the birth of John.
The neighbours rejoice with Mary, one assumes at the birth of John. That is they rejoice because the baby’s born. But in this case they rejoice with Mary, seemingly because her childless years have ended. It is interesting that John was taken to be circumcised in accordance with the Law of Moses on the eighth day. Then at the circumcision ceremony the relatives and neighbours seem to take over the naming of the child. Is that because Zech can’t speak? So they are on his side and want the child to be named after his father, meaning Zechariah. While this was possible; it could be done that way, it was certainly not the norm. But they seem intent on naming him Zechariah. They try again to persuade Elizabeth that his name should be Zechariah. She says, “No, his name is John.” How did she know that? Zechariah can’t talk. True, but he can write; he is a priest. One assumes Zech wrote down for Elizabeth what the angel said way before this. Elizabeth is sticking to the heavenly plan despite the interference from the neighbours and relatives. Interesting too that the neighbours and relatives used gestures to ask Zech what the baby should be named. This seems to infer that Zech was deaf as well dumb.
Everyone is surprised when Zechariah writes “His name is John”. It doesn’t appear to be the fact that John was chosen that surprises them. After all Elizabeth and Zech can name him what they like. What surprise them is either that Zech agreed with what Elizabeth called him, inferring the crowd figured they hadn’t talked about the name before. Elizabeth speaks the name out then Zech writes it. Here they assume that Zech can’t hear what Elizabeth said and that they haven’t talked about it before hand. If that is not what is going on, then it has to be the emphatic way he used the present tense, inferring he is already named John. This is also assuming that no word had leaked out that Gabriel had told this couple what the child would be called.
When Zech’s vocal chords are suddenly working again it adds a sense of the miraculous to the moment. Instantly Zech could speak again. It was manifestly evident to everyone that his inability to speak was connected with the birth of this boy. The fact that both parents gave him the same name when one couldn’t talk or hear amazed them all. Zech now uses his tongue to praise God, something he should have done nine months before. His punishment has now ended and he has the proof that God’s Word over this boy will come to pass. It is evident to everyone that this boy is something special and destined to be used by God. The news spreads far and wide, partly by this same crowd. This is a story worth telling. “Do you know what I heard . . . ”
TEACHER: Name one important thing we have today that we didn’t have 10 years ago.
Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is Youer than You.Dr. Seuss
JESUS knew our name even before we were born. Not only does He know each of our names, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future. He even knows how many hairs are on each head.Ian Vail