The time came for Elizabeth to have her baby. She gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very kind to her. They shared her joy.
On the eighth day, they came to have the child circumcised. They were going to name him Zechariah, like his father.
But his mother spoke up. "No!" she said. "He must be called John."
They said to her, "No one among your relatives has that name."
Then they motioned to his father. They wanted to find out what he would like to name the child.
He asked for something to write on. Then he wrote, "His name is John." Everyone was amazed.
Right away Zechariah could speak again. His first words gave praise to God.
The neighbors were all filled with fear and wonder. All through Judea's hill country, people were talking about all these things.
Everyone who heard this wondered about it. And because the Lord was with John, they asked, "What is this child going to be?"
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit. He prophesied,
"Give praise to the Lord, the God of Israel! He has come and set his people free.
He has acted with great power and has saved us. He did it for those who are from the family line of his servant David.
Long ago holy prophets said he would do it.
He has saved us from our enemies. We are rescued from all who hate us.
He has been kind to our people. He has remembered his holy covenant.
He made an oath to our father Abraham.
He promised to save us from our enemies, so that we could serve him without fear.
He wants us to be holy and godly as long as we live.
"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go ahead of the Lord to prepare the way for him.
You will tell his people how they can be saved. You will tell them that their sins can be forgiven.
All of that will happen because our God is tender and caring. His kindness will bring the rising sun to us from heaven.
It will shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death. It will guide our feet on the path of peace."
The child grew up, and his spirit became strong. He lived in the desert until he appeared openly to Israel.