59b They were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John.”
61 The people argued, “No one in your family has ever been named John.” 62 So they motioned to Zechariah to find out what he wanted to name his son.
63 Zechariah asked for a writing tablet. Then he wrote, “His name is John.” Everyone was amazed. 64 Right away, Zechariah started speaking and praising God.
65 All the neighbours were frightened because of what had happened, and everywhere in the hill country people kept talking about these things. 66 Everyone who heard about this wondered what this child would grow up to be. They knew that the Lord was with him.
His Name Is John
I was told once that I was going to have a baby. It wasn’t an angel that told me, it was Nelson, and they were just two years old at the time. We had buried our son at just three weeks of age and had been told over and over that we might not get pregnant again. Starting to accept that we would be a family of three. Starting to accept that the dreams for a larger family were gone.
But for eight months Nelson had prayed before bed, “Dear Jesus, please give me a baby brother or sister who will stay.” Then one day they said, “I don’t need to pray anymore.” I figured they were moving on with their grief, and that was good. After all, there wasn’t going to be another baby. And then one day, four weeks later, I learned I was seven weeks’ pregnant with Ten. It was a shock, and honestly, after all of the things we had been through the previous year and a half, I didn’t really believe it was true until she was born … and in my arms … and at home … and growing … and …
Doubt, Growth and Faith
So I ‘get’ Zechariah’s hesitancy. I ‘get’ that sometimes it takes time to believe it when God offers us something – even when it’s something we really want. But somewhere along the lines, Zechariah started to believe this was really happening. Maybe when Elizabeth told him she thought she was pregnant? When he first felt the baby move inside of her? Or when he was born, and it was a boy? I’m not sure.
Whatever the answer, by the time he’s asked what the child’s name is, Zechariah is willing to say ‘yes’ to God’s promise. And because of his ‘yes’ “everyone who heard about this wondered what this child would grow up to be. They knew the Lord was with him.” Zechariah’s faith was witness to those around him of God-All-Powerful, of God’s intention to show up. It frightened people – because, let’s face it, the idea of God showing up is a bit frightening – and it left people talking.
Zechariah, who didn’t believe the angel in the first place, has found a way forward through his silence to a point of firm belief. There is a place for your doubt and mine, and there is room for our doubt to grow into faith.
Joining In The Story
Zechariah, who made a mistake big enough for the angel to make him speechless for a year, is instrumental in his neighbours understanding that God was showing up. God keeps on calling each of us to join Him in showing up as this Kingdom Story breaks in to our broken world.
Zechariah, who might have been a bit of a go-through-the-motions, doesn’t-really-matter-what-I-do kind of guy back in the Temple, reaches out and takes the tablet, knowing this action is part of kicking off some sort of serious God-stuff. Our actions, however big and small, are part of the story that God is telling – no part is too small or insignificant to be left out.
- What sorts of things do you hear God asking you to do or to be a part of?
- Is it easy for you to to say ‘yes’ when God asks you to be part of things, or is it hard?
- Do you ever feel like you’re ‘not good enough’ or like your actions won’t change anything so there’s no point in trying
- What would it mean for you to ‘pick up the tablet’ like Zechariah did today? Is there a small act of faith you can take today that, like Zechariah’s, might have all sorts of ripples in this story God is at work telling? It might be an act of truth-telling or a moment of tongue-holding; it might be an act of action or an act of stillness; it might be an act for another, or it might be an act for yourself.
- Take some time at the end of the day to reflect on the experience of acting in faith for you. What was it like? Was it easy or hard? What happened when you did it anyways?
You can find more studies in the book of Luke on our website here.