This is an often overlooked passage…it is not found in the Revised Common Lectionary. In the grand scheme of things of the first 2 chapters of Luke – the birth narratives of John the Baptist and Jesus, this passage just doesn’t have the pizzaz of the others…or, does it?
On the surface this passage is about the birth and naming of John the Baptist. Neighbors and relatives must have been unaware of Elizabeth being pregnant – remember, in her old age, she went from barren to pregnant. How? If you go back a few verses, you will see that God’s messenger, Gabriel, visited Zechariah before Mary. In that visit…Zechariah doubts Gabriel and, therefore, God. As a result, Zechariah is unable to speak until the naming of the baby.
The logical choice in naming this baby would be after the father, according to custom and it is Elizabeth who says the baby will be named John. The last word that Zechariah had spoken before losing his speech had been an expression of doubt in verse 18, but on this, the first occasion that he could speak again, he praised God. And the crowd was amazed!
From doubt to praise…it’s on the tip of our tongues every day…