When Elizabeth was full-term in her pregnancy, she bore a son.
Her neighbors and relatives, seeing that God had overwhelmed her with mercy, celebrated with her.
On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child and were calling him Zachariah after his father.
But his mother intervened: "No. He is to be called John."
"But," they said, "no one in your family is named that."
They used sign language to ask Zachariah what he wanted him named.
Asking for a tablet, Zachariah wrote, "His name is to be John." That took everyone by surprise.
Surprise followed surprise - Zachariah's mouth was now open, his tongue loose, and he was talking, praising God!
A deep, reverential fear settled over the neighborhood, and in all that Judean hill country people talked about nothing else.
Everyone who heard about it took it to heart, wondering, "What will become of this child? Clearly, God has his hand in this."
Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives, and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers, as he remembers to do what he said he'd do,
What he swore to our father Abraham -
a clean rescue from the enemy camp, So we can worship him without a care in the world,
made holy before him as long as we live.
And you, my child, "Prophet of the Highest," will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people, the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God's Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, Then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.
The child grew up, healthy and spirited. He lived out in the desert until the day he made his prophetic debut in Israel.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)