A Father's Loose Tongue (Luke 1)
1. This afternoon, as we follow the Church calendar, we come to one of the greatest days in the last few years of the B.C. era. The greatest thing to herald the coming of the birth of Jesus. It's the birth of His cousin John. Another prophesied birth to an unlikely couple in the hill country of Judea. This unlikely couple was the exact opposite of our Lord's parents. This wasn't a virgin giving birth. This was a woman FAR past childbearing age becoming pregnant and giving birth. "Both were advanced in years" (v7). This was extremely improbable to the medical knowledge of the Roman Empire. The archangel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah the priest while he was ministering in the Temple in Jerusalem. This old man, "advanced in years," disbelieved the proclamation of the angel and therefore his tongue was silenced until John's birth (vv18-23). John's birth was a sign. It was a sign for Zechariah. His tongue would be loosed at his circumcision. It was a sign for Mary: "Behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren" (v36). It was a sign to Zechariah and Elizabeth's family. Zechariah's tongue is loosed and the family and neighbors say, "What then will this child be?" (v66).
2. "What shall this child be?" Indeed. This child shall be something because "the hand of the Lord was with him" (v66). God was going to use this child in such a way that he is the proof that God is still using His plan of salvation for His people. John is born. The parents gather the family, friends and neighbors for the circumcision. As per Jewish custom, the child was not named until he had been circumcised. They were getting ready for the naming rite of the circumcision and everyone was geared up to name this child Zechariah after his father. This was not to be. Even from John's birth, many people had their own ideas about him. They wanted him to be just like his father. They were looking to the wrong father. He was not born to be a duplicate of Zechariah. He was not born to be merely a successor in his priestly office. He was born to be exactly what his father declared him to be, "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (vv76-79). Zechariah doesn't want his son to be a copy of him. He wants something so much better than that. He wants John to fulfill the role that God has set out for him. God had planned for John to be the last of the prophets to point forward to the Messiah. That was John's role in life. He summarizes it completely in one sentence to his disciples during his ministry: "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
3. But that's truly our role in life as well. The moment the water touched you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, your entire purpose in life became to point to "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." But how, you ask, am I able to do that here? How can I point to the Lamb of God while living in this place? The answer is simple. I know that not everyone in this room right now to hear about the Lamb of God is not everyone in this building. You have the ability to bring this message to them. It can be your roommate, your next door neighbor, someone you see in the hallway, one of the nurses or administration. You can still point them to the Lamb of God. That was John's role in life. It's yours and mine as well. May God strengthen you as he did St. John to do it. Amen.