|The Fourfold Gospel
THE BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
(Hill Country of Judæa, B. C. 5.)
c LUKE 1:57-80.
c 57 Now Elisabeth's time was fulfilled that she should be
delivered; and she brought forth a son.
58 And her neighbors and her kinsfolk heard that the Lord had
magnified his mercy towards her
[mercy in granting a child; great mercy in granting so illustrious a
and they rejoiced with her.
59 And it came to pass on the eighth day
Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3; Philippians 3:5. Male children were named
at their circumcision, probably because at that time the names of
Abram and Sarai had been changed
(Genesis 17:5, 15). Females
were named when they were weaned],
they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him
Zacharias, after the name of his father.
60 And his mother answered and said, Not so
evidently written, and thus communicated to his wife all that the
angel had told him, and how the child was to be named John];
but he shall be called John.
61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred
[Family names were even more thought of, and honored, among the Jews
than among us. They had no taste for romantic and eccentric names]
that is called by this name.
62 And they made signs
[this seems to indicate that Zacharias was deaf as well as dumb]
to his father, what he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing tablet
[tablets were sometimes made of lead, but were usually small wooden
boards, either smeared with wax, or having sand sprinkled over them,
on which words were written with an iron stylus or pencil],
and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.
[Being surprised that both parents should thus unite upon an
64 And his mouth was opened immediately
verse 20. The angel's words were now completely
fulfilled, therefore the punishment for disbelief was removed],
and his tongue loosed, and he spake, blessing God.
[Probably the words recorded in
65 And fear came
[The miraculous phenomena attending the birth of John made the people
so conscious of the presence of God as to fill them with awe. The
influence of this fear spread far and wide until the chills and
tremors of expected changes and revolutions were felt even by the
citizens of Rome, as their poets and historians testify]
on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were
noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judæa.
66 And all that heard them laid them up in their heart, saying,
What then shall this child be?
[We probably find an echo of this question thirty years later when
John entered upon his
And the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit,
[This his prophecy is the last of the old dispensation, and the first
of the new, or Christian, era. It also is poetry, and is a hymn of
[the hymn gets its name from this word, and is called the Benedictus]
be the Lord, the God of Israel; For he hath visited
[Come back, in the person of his Spirit, to his people. After some four
hundred years of absence the Holy Spirit, as the spirit of prophecy,
had again returned to God's people. Malachi, the last of the prophets,
had been dead about four centuries]
and wrought redemption for his people,
69 And hath raised up a horn
[the horn is a symbol of
power--Daniel 7:7, 8; 8:21]
of salvation for us In the house of his servant David
[this also indicates that Mary was of the house of David]
70 (As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have
been from of old)
[Genesis 3:15; 22:18; 49:10; Numbers 24:17; 2 Peter 1:21; Hebrews 1:1],
71 Salvation from our enemies
[not only Rome, the enemy of Israelitish prosperity, but also those
evil agencies which wage ceaseless warfare against the souls of
and from the hand of all that hate us;
72 To show mercy towards our fathers, And to remember his holy
[contract or agreement];
73 The oath which he sware unto Abraham our father
Genesis 12:3; 17:4; 22:16, 17],
74 To grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand
of our enemies Should serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness
[holiness is good conduct toward God, righteousness is good conduct
before him all our days.
76 Yea and thou, child
[the rest of the psalm is addressed to the infant John],
shalt be called the prophet
Matthew 11:9; Luke 20:6]
of the Most High: For thou shalt go before the face of the
[the Lord Jesus Christ]
to make ready his ways
[Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3];
77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people
[Israel had a false idea that the Messiah's salvation would be from
political evil. John was needed to tell them that it was from sin that
God proposed to deliver them. Perdition does not consist in political
wrongs, but in divine condemnation]
In the remission of their sins
78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, Whereby the
dayspring from on high
[One of the many names for Jesus or his kingdom. The prophets loved to
picture Messiah's advent as a sunrise
(Isaiah 9:2; 60:1-3; Malachi 4:2; Matthew 4:16; John 1:4, 5). Christ's
coming was the dawn of a new day for Israel and for mankind]
shall visit us,
79 To shine upon them that sit in darkness and the shadow of
death; To guide our feet into the way of peace.
[Travelers in the Judæan mountains often waited patiently for the
morning light, lest they should lose their lives by a false step taken
80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit
[1 Samuel 2:26; Luke 2:40, 52]
and was in the deserts
[The thinly settled region west of the Dead Sea. In
1 Samuel 23:19 it is called Jeshimon, or "the Horror"]
till the day of his showing unto Israel.
[The day when he commenced his ministry and declared his commission as