This morning I am marveling at the fact that Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, couldn’t speak for about 10 months. How does that feel? It all happened because he questioned the prophetic message of an angel inside the Temple of God:
19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.
23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
Not only could he not talk, but he had something amazing to say. Imagine how you feel when the most extraordinary things in life take place. With excitement and attention to detail you tell everyone you know, over and over again. Until you get sick of the sound of your own voice and you need a break from it. Shaking with adrenaline.
So he comes out of the Temple and people even want to know what happened and he can’t say it.
Imagine him going home to his wife. He knows she will conceive and he can’t tell her. What was it like as he made love to her, in silence. What did his eyes say, that was so different from every other time. Did Elizabeth wonder what had come over her husband, what was behind his smile and giggle? Not only was he not able to talk, but there was probably so much that was said to her in his everyday gestures. Affection. Joy.
What was that like, when she found out she had conceived and saw that he wasn’t surprised? Tears of joy.
And he knew that this was not just a normal child, precious in the sight of God, but that this was a prophet. A child who would herald the Savior.
How she wondered what all of this meant. Her cousin, Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit. Her in her old age.
God was doing something.
Oh the Joy and the Mystery of it all.
Quiet Giggles during prayer.
The blessing and presence of the Lord in her house.
The Spirit moving already in their lives.
In the lives of a quiet man, who entered the temple to offer incense to God, and his family.
How he wanted to tell his wife, and couldn’t speak.
So much to say.
So much to be thankful for.
So, the child is BORN
He is named John, Not Zechariah.
JOHN—Ἰωάννης–“YHWH is a Gracious Giver”
So what do you say after 10 months of silence?
Do you begin with the story of what happened so long ago?
Do you begin to speak to everyone around you about this son that was just born into the world?
About what, do you speak?
Zechariah spoke first to God.
Zechariah spoke first, words of praise to YHWH.
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[a]
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,[b]
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.”
“And you, my little son, will be called prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way of the Lord.”
And the child, did.