He spent nine months waiting for the birth of his son. Nine months of silence. Nine months of frustrating gestures and writing on tablets to convey what he wanted to say about anything and everything. And when his son was born, he still couldn’t verbalize his great pleasure.
I’m talking about John the Baptizer’s father, Zacharias. He earned those nine mute months because he didn’t believe the angel’s prior report to him: Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. (Luke 1:13)
Those nine months gave him plenty of time to reflect on what’s about to happen to his family. The angel told Zacharias that his son was destined for great things (even Jesus named His cousin the greatest man born among women, Matthew 11:11). As a priest and one who walked blamelessly before the Lord in all the commandments, Zacharias knew what was coming. So in nine month, he got his priorities in order.
The day came when his son was born. Still no words to say out loud. The cord was ceremoniously cut – still nothing. The little baby nursed and snuggled with his mother. All Zacharias could do was watch, walk him when he was fussy, and regret the day when his voice was barred from the listening ears of his bundle of boy.
Eight days passed. It was time to circumcise and name the newborn lad. SNIP. Almost done, but there was disagreement about his name. “He should be called Zacharias,” some insisted. Elizabeth spoke up for herself and Zacharias, declaring, “No; he shall be called John.” (Luke 1:59-60)
Frustration overtook Zacharias. He gestured widely and grabbed a writing tablet, furiously penning: “His name is John!” (Luke 1:63)
And with that came his voice, returning to him deep and strong, bellowing to the onlookers his praise and pent-up thanksgiving for all he had contemplated the last 278 days.
But first: Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David. (Luke 1:68-69)
THE PRIORITY: PRAISE FOR JESUS.
And then everything he wanted to say about his own little boy and the angelic message that challenged him, words that he must now say: And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:76-79)
No wonder John was a great man – the greatest man. He got a little of that from his father.