Now it was time for Elizabeth's baby to be born, and it was a boy.
The word spread quickly to her neighbors and relatives that the Lord had been very kind to her, and everyone rejoiced with her.
When the baby was eight days old, all the relatives and friends came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father.
But Elizabeth said, "No! His name is John!"
"What?" they exclaimed. "There is no one in all your family by that name."
So they asked the baby's father, communicating to him by making gestures.
He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone's surprise he wrote, "His name is John!"
Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.
Wonder fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills.
Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, "I wonder what this child will turn out to be? For the hand of the Lord is surely upon him in a special way."
Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
"Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited his people and redeemed them.
He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David,
just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.
Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us.
He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant with them,
the covenant he gave to our ancestor Abraham.
We have been rescued from our enemies, so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness forever.
"And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God's tender mercy, the light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace."
John grew up and became strong in spirit. Then he lived out in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)