Luke 1:57-66 (ESV)
57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
When Elizabeth gave birth to her son, friends and family gathered together to celebrate the new baby’s arrival. According to Scripture, Jewish boys were circumcised on the eighth day. It was at this time that Zechariah and Elizabeth named their boy. It was traditional for a child to be named after a father or grandfather, and the elderly couple should have named him Zechariah. Those gathered together expected him to be named after his father, but Elizabeth said, “No.” She announced that her son’s name was John, the name God chose for this child. The crowd was totally caught off guard. Why John? So they asked Zechariah, and he wrote on a tablet, “His name is John.” What a reminder to all that something was very different about this child. The moment Zechariah finished writing “His name is John,” he was able to speak again. His time of discipline was over. As a religious leader in Israel, Zechariah should have responded with trust when he heard Gabriel’s message. But he didn’t believe, so God removed his ability to speak throughout the entire nine months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. When the nine months were up and the crowd asked Zechariah what the baby’s name was, he boldly wrote “John.” There was no questioning the decision. Zechariah determined to do what God wanted him to do this time. He had definitely learned his lesson. The neighbors were afraid. First, the elderly couple became pregnant, then the child received an unexpected name, and finally the priest who became mute could suddenly talk again after he wrote, “His name is John.” What was up with this kid?
Zechariah was a God-fearing man, and the Lord kept his promise to him. God keeps his promises to us as well. One of the wonderful privileges of following Jesus is that he loves us so much he will discipline us when we get off track. God promises to work all things together for good in the believer’s life so that she will become more Christlike. When we are fearful, unbelieving, or disobedient, God will go to great lengths to let us know we need to do things his way. God’s discipline is intended to draw us closer to him. If you have resisted God’s will in a certain area of your life and you sense that you have been “benched” as a result, confess, repent, get back up, and get in the game today.