Let's Go Deeper

Luke 1:57-64 : “When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child and they were going to name him Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “NO! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising GOD.”

I love the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were good people, good neighbors, and good friends (Luke 1:6), but they had no children. They were different from the norm, the accepted… they had no children. So while people said hello to them and maybe made small talk, I’m not sure people truly became good friends and got to know them, truly working on a deeper relationship with them. John and Elizabeth didn’t do the norm… they had no children. This is a lot to postulate from the story in Luke, but if we read today’s versus again we get a sign of what life was like for Elizabeth and Zechariah. It says “Her neighbors and relatives heard the Lord had shown her great mercy and they shared her joy.” I do that… don’t I? Someone I know a bit, someone I say hello to and ask how they are doing?

“On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child and they were going to name him after his father.”

That was the thing to do…. wasn’t it? That was the norm, the way of the world. If these people truly knew Elizabeth and Zechariah, wouldn’t they have talked about names for the coming child? Wouldn’t they have talked about Zechariah’s experience with Gabriel in the temple? So, here they were celebrating the birth of their son, late in life, it was Elizabeth and Zechariah’s time to fit in, to join the crowd… and so … you know…. you name the child after the father… that’s what everyone is doing… that’s what your supposed to do. But, Mary says no, he is to be called John. It seems like such a small thing, but don’t think it is easy to buck the trends of this world. People will look funny at you, they’ll think you’re a little bit off, and then they’ll go get someone else important in your life to help straighten you out, someone else to let you know the way of the world. And this is what they did to Elizabeth when she said no. They told her it wasn’t the way everyone else was doing it. And so they turned to Zechariah.

Luke 1:61 “Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.”

That verse blows me away! They made signs… Zechariah’s neighbors and relatives, the people from his town and clan made signs to him. Zechariah wasn’t deaf! He was struck dumb! The angel Gabriel didn’t stop his hearing, Gabriel cut off his speech, Gabriel said “and now you will not be able to speak.” These people didn’t know Zechariah or Elizabeth at all! They were there for the party, they weren’t there for Zechariah, or for Elizabeth, or for John.

This didn’t stop Zechariah. Zechariah went on to praise GOD for the birth of his son… and he went on to say what great things GOD was bringing us. Luke 1:74 “to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear.”

Dave has been talking about going deeper with fewer and at first this was uncomfortable with me. I was thinking we would leave people behind, but I don’t think that is it at all. If the relationships we have are of the quality that Zechariah and Elizabeth’s friends had with them, they are not a loving, healing relationship at all. GOD wants more for us. GOD knows us completely and GOD wants us to know him completely. The deeper our relationship is with GOD, the more deeper, the more fuller, the more complete our relationships will be with those around us… and truly, it will be the only way we can come to have relationships with those who need us the most.

As we go into this Christmas, as we go into this new year, I pray that I get to know people better. I pray that I don’t let the world tell me how to know, or how to love others. I pray that I don’t let the world tell me what my priorities should be. I pray that I listen to GOD and what GOD has in store for me. I pray that I love myself, that I love my spouse, my children, my friends, my neighbors, I pray that I love every man, woman, and child on this earth! AMEN and AMEN!

Jim Dietvorst

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