This is the story of a miracle child, Elisabeth was barren as stated in (Luke 1:7) ,but “righteous before God,” as we are told in (verse 6). Bareness was considered a reproach by most people of the time. Zacharias had apparently accepted he would never have a child when he remarked to the angel who came to announce he would have a son, “I am an old man and my wife well stricken in years” (Luke 1:18). It was a statement of such doubt the angel had to silence him until his predictions came to pass.
Six months later the same angel came to Mary to tell her she would be part of a second miracle and as proof told her, in (Luke 1:36) that Elisabeth was having a child in her old age. It had served to prove what he was saying about her child being possible. A visit to her cousin got Mary out of harm’s way in the early days of her own nativity. She was a comfort to Elisabeth the last few months of her pregnancy.
Finally John was born, and the neighbors came to celebrate the circumcision of Zacharias and Elizabeth’s son. That would have been the time for his official naming. The neighbors wanted to call the child Zacharias after his father. I’ve always wondered what business was it of theirs what the child was named. Naming a child was a job for the parents not the neighbors.
Elizabeth told them the child would be named John. John means “proceeding” which probably seemed really strange to them. They were trying to name the boy after his father whose name meant , “beloved of God.” John’s mother said call him John. They tried to change her mind then went to ask his father.
I have always thought Zacharias was only mute and could hear quite well, and saw it as almost funny the people were making signs to Zacharias. In the typical mistake of acting as if any situation was worse than it already was. My husband thought he was deaf as well as mute, and they were making signs, because that was the only way to get him to understand. We looked it up in a few dozen commentaries and they agree with him two to one. Still there are some that believe as I do he could hear. Zacharias asked for something to write with and confirmed Elizabeth’s name for the child. As soon as he confirmed the name the seal the angel put on him was lifted and he uttered praise and prophecy about his miracle baby.
All that had ever been needed was to ask his mother the son’s name. Whether a deaf mute or simply a mute, he had nine months to communicate his experience with the angel to Elizabeth. Don’t you think he communicated why he was silent and, why she could miraculously conceive after all the years of disappointment. If Zacharias could write “His name is John” for the neighbors don’t you think she knew. All they had to do was ask his mother, a mother knows.
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