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Luke 1:56 ESV

And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

Mary left Elizabeth just before she gave birth to John.

Luke 1:57-66 ESV

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zechariah was finally able to speak again, after he confirmed the message the angel had given him. His mouth had been shut to prevent him from spreading his doubts to Elizabeth and others.

It was plain to all the people of Judea that John was exceptional.

The doubting man who had been mute for nine months was now filled with the Spirit and prophesied:

Luke 1:67-75 ESV

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Zechariah prophesied that John was the fulfillment of much older prophecies concerning God’s covenant people Israel.

God had visited and redeemed his people and had raised up a horn of salvation… in the house of his servant David. Zechariah was not speaking here about John, but Jesus, for whom John was destined to prepare the way. John was not from the house of David, but Jesus was. The Messiah had to be born of the royal line of David.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 ESV

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.'”

He went on to prophesy directly to his newborn son:

Luke 1:76-79 ESV

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

John would prepare the way for Jesus by preaching radical repentance. Jesus brought the gospel, but for the gospel to be received one must repent–turn away from sin toward God. Once John had prepared the way, his ministry began to decrease, and Jesus’s ministry began to increase, but Jesus carried on with the message of repentance.

Mark 1:14-15 ESV

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

But that was years down the road. For now, John would be prepared by God until the right time.

Luke 1:80 ESV

And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.