As I write these thoughts today, earlier I was pondering the infant dedication which will be a part of our Sunday morning gathering next week. I think it is going to be a very significant time. Each situation has a background story of difficult times, even wondering if children in the home could be a reality. These little ones represent God’s gifts and goodness in very profound ways.
And so it was for Zechariah and Elizabeth. This was more than just a … “Wow, I guess they weren’t too old for children after all.” No, that a baby boy came into this home was nothing less than a miracle that was recognized by everyone in a tight-knit community. Added to the wonder of it all were the unique physical things going on with Zechariah – from this passage indicating that he likely was not only not able to talk, but also not able to hear (as people were making signs TO him).
The tradition was for a son to be named after the father, so it was a great surprise to the people in the community that Elizabeth said the baby’s name was to be John. The people did not believe her, likely because she was a mere woman in that time and culture. But Zechariah affirmed the name in obedience to God. Immediately he was able to talk and he breaks out in praise of God.
All of this must have been quite a scene in a small community. Surely these events would be long remembered by people who would add to the story about John’s unique role in God’s plan, especially over the years as he began his preaching ministry.
Not every child dedicated to God is destined for a great public ministry of some sort. Ministry callings can also have some attendant difficulties in a world that is hostile to God’s representatives … John ultimately losing his head, for example. Infant dedication is not only about the child, it is also about the parents/families dedicating themselves. And we all need to be dedicated to whatever tasks the Lord will lead us and our families into. But there is ultimate fulfillment in following that leading.
Luke 1:57 – When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59 – On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
61 – They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
62 – Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.