Sunday, November 9, 2014

Luke 1:(57) 58-67 (68-79) 80

After her seclusion, which was evidently brought to an end in absolutely the best possible way by the visit from Mary (1:39-56) … and Jesus! … Elizabeth’s pregnancy eventually came to term, and with the birth of her son, those before whom she once felt such disgrace (1:25) come to share in her joy. By now, the circumstance that brought about Zechariah’s silence has become a dim memory and they have grown accustomed to his muteness. They also expect that a son, especially a priest's only son who arrives late in his father’s life, will surely bear the name of the father to keep his memory alive (1:59). It is only natural to receive and to confirm this gift of continuity.
            But the child, though he certainly represents a culmination of the prophets and the priesthood of Israel and stands in line with them, also represents a great discontinuity, a break with the generations-long ministry that has, for all practical and redemptive purposes, failed. There will be nothing smooth and seamless about John’s role. 
            And so, when Elizabeth announces, and Zechariah conforms in writing, that his name is to be John (1:60-63), the joyful neighbors and relatives are shocked. A new name will be entered into this family’s genealogy. Moreover, it is clear—from the moment of his naming and from the startling development, namely, that the aged, silent priest now erupts with loud praise to God (1:64)—that “the hand of the Lord was with him” (1:66). “What,” they wondered, “will this child become?” (1:65) Not, it would seem, a mere link in the chain. 

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