"His name is John"
The birth of John the Baptist
None needed. The children could play the quiet game, if you choose.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him. Luke 1:76 (NIV)
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Do you like to play games? How many of you have ever played "The Quiet Game?" The quiet game has been around for many years. We even played it when I was a child. The rules are quite simple. Everyone must remain completely quiet. There can be no talking, not even a whisper, and no laughing or giggling. If you make a sound, you are out of the game and the last one to make a sound is the winner of the game.
The quiet game is fun to play, but after while, you get tired of not being able to speak. I wonder what it would be like to go for a whole day or an entire week without speaking? What about nine months? Can you imagine going nine months without speaking?
Our Bible lesson today is about a man named Zacharias. Zacharias was a priest who served in the temple and both he and his wife, Elizabeth, were righteous in the God's eyes and were careful to obey all of the Lord's commandments. Both of them were very old and they had no children.
One day Zacharias was in the temple when an angel appeared standing beside the alter. When he saw the angel, he was afraid. "Don't be afraid" the angel said to him. "Your wife will have a son and you are to name him John. He will bring you great joy for he will prepare people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of many people to God."
"How can this be? My wife and I are both old," Zacharias said to the angel.
"I am Gabriel and I was sent by God to bring you this good news. But since you do not believe me, you will be silent and unable to speak until after the child is born.
When the time came for Elizabeth's baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. All of her relatives, friends, and neighbors were very happy for Elizabeth. Everyone thought they should name the baby Zacharias after his father, but Elizabeth said, "No, his name will be John." They used sign language to ask the baby's father what he wanted to name his son. He motioned for them to bring him a tablet and Zacharias wrote, "His name is John." Suddenly, to everyone's surprise, Zacharias's mouth was opened and he began to speak and praise God.
Zacharias spoke these words about his baby boy, "And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord." Do you know who this little baby was? He was the one we call John the Baptist. The one who prepared the way for the coming of Jesus.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your unspeakable gift—the gift of Jesus Christ, our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.