Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Elizabeth gave birth to a full-term baby boy. All their neighbors and relatives were overjoyed and touched by God’s gift to the couple.
When the baby was eight days old, they went for a circumcising and naming ceremony. The ones conducting the ceremony were just about to name the baby Zechariah, but Elizabeth spoke up and said, “No! His name is supposed to be John.”
The clergy replied, “You don’t have any relatives named John.”
Then, [as if they themselves were mute], they gestured to Zechariah to see what he wanted to name the baby. He indicated he wanted something to write on, and to everyone’s amazement he wrote, “His name is John.”
At that very moment, Zechariah was able to speak and the first words out of his mouth were praises for God. God’s Spirit possessed him and he foretold his son’s future:
“Isn’t God amazing? He’s back in action on behalf of the nation of Israel. And now he’s revealing a foolproof plan, involving one of David descendants, just like the prophets used to say. He’s going to save us from everyone who’s out to get us. He’s keeping his promise, people, the same one he made with Abraham. He’s going to rescue us from our enemies so that we can fearlessly be his people and live out our lives the way God prescribes.
“And you, my child, you’re a part of this. Your job will be to announce God’s plan, paving the way for God’s representative by teaching people that God isn’t going to hold our past wrongs against us. He’s having mercy on us and sending the sun from where he is into our world to shine light on our darkness—even illuminating death—and to guide us on to the path of peace.”
Everyone who witnessed this was dumbfounded, and the news spread through the Judean countryside. People wondered, “What kind of plans does God have for this child?”