Today’s reading: Luke 1:57-80
Today we read about the birth of John the Baptist. When he is born, the town comes for the ceremony of circumcision and for the child to be named. They assume he will be named after his father, Zechariah. However, his mother says his name will be John. The people inquire of Zechariah, who has been mute for nine months since he doubted the announcement of the angel. Zechariah concurs in the name and immediately his speech is restored. He praises the Lord and prophecies.
What I find particularly interesting about this passage is the verse:
Fear came on all those who lived around them, and all these things were being talked about throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard about him took it to heart, saying, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the Lord’s hand was with him. Luke 1:65-66
So, John the Baptist was a celebrity from a young age. All the people in the area would have known this story while he was growing up. Everyone would have thought “someday that kid is going to do something important” about him. The scripture goes on to say:
The child grew up and became spiritually strong, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel. Luke 1:80
So that suggests that at some point John left the larger community and went into the desert to prepare. Many speculate that he joined the Essenes, a monk-like community that lived in the desert. Whether he did or not the people would have likely taken this as an additional sign of preparation. Thus, this helps explain why John the Baptist drew so many people to him when he began his preaching. The people were expecting him to be a great prophet and thus were predisposed to seek him out and hear his message.
Tomorrow: Luke 2:1-35