Approx. 6-8 B.C
Zechariah, a priest who regularly served in the temple, had just received news that his formerly barren wife Elizabeth would bear a child in her old age. This child would grow up to be John the Baptist and so the angel Gabriel instructed Zechariah to name the child “John.” However, because of Zechariahs’ doubt, he would be silenced as a mute until the fulfillment of the Word of God through the angel Gabriel came to fruition.
Months later, a young local commoner and virgin girl betrothed to be married; Mary, receives a similar visit from the angel Gabriel where he informs her that she too will bear a child, except, her child will be born to her while she remains a virgin because this child will be begotten of the Holy Spirit. The angel also informs the servant Mary, about her cousin Elizabeth’s child who was now in his sixth month.
Mary, faithfully obliged to all that was spoken by the angel, received it as true and humbly accepted her fate.
Unbeknown to Mary of Zechariahs’ vision and silence, but now informed of her cousins pregnancy, she excitedly hurries to the town where Zechariah lived, and enters their home to greet Elizabeth.
At the sound of Mary’s greeting alone the child leaped in Elizabeth’s womb and she also is then filled with the Holy Spirit.
Speaking by the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth then acknowledges that the child Mary is carrying is ‘her’ Lord – the Lord Jesus – who would soon enter the world.
Mary then recites what would today be known as, *The Magnificat*
I have read the Magnificat many times before, but only recently did I consider what it must’ve been like to hear the Magnificat through the ears of one person in this particular season of his life whom I believe was present in that house when Mary arrived: Zechariah.
“Oh how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
And from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
And He has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
To all who fear Him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
And sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped His servant Israel and remembered to be merciful.
For He made this promise to His ancestors,
To Abraham and his children forever.”
Mary stayed with Elizabeth and Zechariah for three months before Elizabeth gave birth to her child. At the time of his birth, the relatives wanted and maybe even expected that the child should be named Zechariah after his father, but Elizabeth insisted that his name should be ‘John.’
And now was the moment of decision. Zechariah had obviously notified his wife of the name the angel had spoken. Zechariah had been silenced so that he could do more listening than speaking in this next season of his life, and Zechariah had been privy to hearing what we now call ‘the Magnificat’ spoken by Mary while considering his silence and Mary’s overflowing joys from having received the Word of God by the message of the angel Gabriel.
How would he respond?
“He (Zechariah) motioned for a writing tablet and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “his name is John.”
Instantly, the Bible says, Zechariah could speak again and now the first words out of his mouth were praises to God in a doxology of his own!
(See Luke 1:68-79)
What things has the Spirit of Jesus, or the angels of God placed before us in this season of transition and change, to stir us to repentance so that we too can carry out God’s instruction – for our own good – to move us to overwhelming joy and worship as we are being likened more and more to the image of Christ?
Whatever comes to mind for you and I specifically today, I pray that in it we’ll learn all the more to,