He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. (Luke 1:63)
Zechariah (and his wife Elizabeth) is one of the characters on our Jesse Tree, so you may encounter him a couple of times this Advent. They are the unlikely parents of John the Baptist. Zechariah worked in the Temple and was a part of the establishment. John the Baptist would become a rebel and a part of the anti-establishment. God would use them all to get the world ready for Jesus, but Zechariah was a bit slow to want to join in.
Zechariah’s resistance had led to him losing his voice. An angel had told him about the child and urged him to name the boy as “John.” This was no normal name for a family working in the Temple and Zechariah was resistant. Add to that the fact that he and Elizabeth were getting older and children seemed unlikely, and the Angel Gabriel’s message was met with doubt. It was this doubt that had been the reason the angel muted Zechariah’s voice.
But Elizabeth did become pregnant and eventually the son who Zechariah never expected to see arrived on the scene. It was time for him to be named and circumcised. Elizabeth announced the name and no one believed her. John was no name for a son of a Temple priest! As Zechariah stood silently watching and listening to this unfold, he called for something to write on. He wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his voice returned.
All of us can be resistant to doing what God wants. Sometimes it is hard to get our lives together when we and God are so out of synch. But God’s Spirit urges us to continue to be open to listening and obeying God’s call. While we may not always like what it is that God is calling us to do, obeying God’s voice brings us meaning and life and helps us share in the work that God is doing in the world.