When Elizabeth gave birth to her son, all the neighbourhood was alive with excitement. Zechariah was a well-known person in the community and everybody knew that his newborn son was a blessing from God, even if they didn’t all understand just how special he was.
News spread like wildfire throughout the entire region when Zechariah was suddenly able to speak again after insisting that his son be called “John”, a name that nobody else in the family had ever been called. Everybody knew that “the Lord’s hand was with him” and expected great things.
However, when Zechariah opened his mouth to praise God, it was not John he spoke about first, but the child who was yet to be born: Jesus. Yes, Zechariah’s son was a miracle, and yes, he would have a significant part to play in God’s plan, but Zechariah knew that it was Jesus who would be the main event.
When Zechariah talks about “a horn of salvation for us”, he is talking about the coming Messiah – Jesus – who will bring rescue and salvation. To his own son, John, he says, “you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way”. He knew that although John was special and would serve God in an amazing way, his role would be to point people to Jesus.
John the Baptist grew up to become one of the great figures of the Bible, and yet from the very beginning, his whole life pointed to Jesus. Although he was a celebrity in his time, he was humble before his Lord, and would one day say that he was not worthy to even untie his sandals (John 1:27).
Today, we are surrounded by celebrities. Even among Christians, there can be celebrity musicians, authors, prophets and speakers, but the test for them is the same as it was for John, centuries ago. Do their lives and words and actions point to Jesus? Do ours?