Friday, 19 February 2016

Luke : 1 57-80 - notes

The Birth of John the Baptizer and Zechariah’s song

It’s all about Jesus really

John’s Birth after Mary leaves Elizabeth.  Luke has a tradition of a baby being named on the 8th day, this may refer to the tradition of  “ Brit Malah”, or circumcision of a male child.  However it is not clear how accurate Luke is being here with Jewish tradition of naming of a child.  Some commentaries throw doubt on this, although internet research of Jewish custom does seem to tie the naming ceremony with the Brit.  The circumcision will allow for the child to become part of the community, much like Baptism in Christianity is an entrance rite to the Church community.

Luke suggests that those present assume he will be called after his Father, but this again is problematic as there is ample evidence in the New Testament of sons not necessarily being named after their Fathers. Modern Jewish custom indeed does not recommend the naming of children after their parents if they are still alive.   Peter’s father was for example called Jona.  I have not detailed Jesus as he like John has been given a name by Gabriel.

Zechariah’s song not as famous as the magnificat but important nonetheless.  It sets the scene for Jesus and heralds his arrival.
It clarifies John’s role; he will prepare the way of the Lord; John will be the “Prophet of the most High”.

Zechariah brings to an almost magisterial conclusion the promises of the Old Testament, announcing the redemption of Israel.  The final exodus.

Zechariah would not have known if Joseph had accepted Mary, so his acclamation that the saviour will be a descendant of David suggests that Mary was of the Davidic line as well.

Having taken into account the experiences that he and Elizabeth has gone through – they would have communicated  to each other by sign and writing -  it is clear that Zechariah believes something great is going to happen with the birth of the child of Mary.


The scene is now set for Jesus.