Parents of the holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord John - St. rights. the prophet Zechariah and St. rights. Elizabeth lived in one of the cities of Judea "in the days of Herod the king of Judah" (Lk 1 .5). The godly (Lk 1 .6) spouses of old age had no children, since Elizabeth. "Was barren" (LK 1, 7, 36).
According to the story of the Gospel of Luke (Lk 1 .5-23), during the rite of incense burning incense in the Temple of Jerusalem, Zechariah was honored with the phenomenon of arch. Gabriel, who said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will give birth to a son to you, and you will call his name John" (Lk 1 .13). Although Zechariah, judging by his subsequent reaction, prayed not for his son, but for the salvation of Israel, he (in addition to expectations) was given a prophecy about the birth of his son. Bl. Theophylactus of Bulgaria believes that Zechariah's prayer was heard that God forgive sins for the people. "How do you see this? The angel says, "I give you a sign: Elizabeth will bear you a son, and from the fact that Elizabeth will bear, you must make sure of the remission of sins to the people." However, in the Old Testament, there are many instances of the prayer of childless parents for the gift of children (see, for example: Genesis 25, 21, 30, 22, 1 1, 10-13, 17), so Zacharias could also pray for birth son. According to the promise of the archangel Gabriel, his son "will not drink wine and strong drink" (Lk 1 .15) as a sign of his special dedication to God (see: 10 9, 13 and 14) and becomes a prophet, filled with "the Holy Spirit ... even from the womb of his mother; and many of the sons of Israel will turn to the Lord their God "(Lk 7 .1-15), and" shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to restore the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient way of thinking the righteous, to present the people prepared for the Lord " (LK 16 .1).
Zacharias expressed doubts about the possibility of the birth of his son, since he and his wife were already in advanced years. For the warning and as confirmation of the faithfulness of the words of the heavenly messenger, Zechariah became deaf and dumb (LK 1 .22; cf .: Lk 1 .62). "It is justly exposed to both, deafness and dumbness, for as a preacher is punished with deafness, but as contradictory - with silence." In this state, Zechariah remained until the day of the birth of his son, who later became a prophet and preacher of repentance in Israel and the Forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ. Apparently, this story reveals the triple meaning of Zechariah's dumbness: as punishments, as signs of what the foretold will come true (cf., Gen. 15, 9-21, 6 Court 36-40; 4 20 .8-11; 1 10, 2-16, LK 1, 36, 2, 12), as well as the motive for apocalyptic concealment, according to which Zacharias' muteness was to be a means of keeping the divine designs secret from people until they were fulfilled (cf. Dan 8. 26; 12 .4, 9; Open 10 .4). In addition, Zachary's unbelief is contrasted with the faith of Mary, which is described later in the Gospel (Lk 1 .45). Standing outside the sanctuary of the people, after Zacharias came out to them and "explained ... signs" (Lk 1 .22), he realized that he had a vision.
Soon Elisaveta conceived her son and told no one about the pregnancy of 5 months, rejoicing at the miracle of God, who took off from her "the reproach between people" (Lk 1 .25), ie, freed from infertility (see: Gen. 30 .1; Exx 23 26, 2 6 23, etc.). The unexpected miraculous resolution of the barrenness of the aged Elisabeth in fulfillment of the words of the archangel Gabriel and the prayers of the righteous Zechariah has parallels in the Old Testament, for example in the history of Sarah (Gen. 17 .15-21; 18 .9-15; 21 .1-7), Rebekah 25, 21), Anna (1 1 1-20), etc. These examples give reason to see in the child Elisabeth the One who will play an important role in the life of Israel.
When Elisabeth was about to give birth to a son, her neighbors and relatives rejoiced in her joy and gathered on the eighth day to perform the circumcision rite required by the Law of Moses (Leviticus 17: 11) established under Abraham (Gen. 14: 12-3) . By circumcision the newborn entered the society of the chosen people of God, and therefore the day of circumcision was considered a joyful family holiday. When circumcised, the newborn was given a name, usually in honor of one of the older relatives. Therefore, it could not but cause a general bewilderment of the mother's desire to call him John. The evangelist emphasizes this circumstance obviously because it is also wonderful: Elizabeth's desire to call the baby John was the fruit of inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The decision was made to my father. He asked the wood-smeared waxer to write on it with a stick, used for this: "John will be his name," and everyone was surprised at the extraordinary coincidence of the mother's desire, and the deaf-mute father to call the son a name that was not in their relationship. And immediately, according to the Angel's prediction, the mouth of Zechariah was resolved, and in prophetic inspiration, as if foreseeing the coming of the kingdom of the Messiah, he began to glorify God who visited his people and created deliverance to him, who "raised the horn of salvation in the house of David."
Then Zechariah foretells his future foretold to the son, predicted by the Angel, saying that he will be called the prophet of the Most High and will be the forerunner of the Divine Messiah, points out the goals of the service of the Precursor in preparing people for His coming, giving the people of Israel understanding that his salvation consists in nothing in other words, how exactly in the forgiveness of sins. Therefore, Israel should not seek worldly majesty, which was then dreamed of by its spiritual leaders, but of righteousness and forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness of sins will come "from the benevolent mercy of our God, because of which the East comes from above," that is, Messiah the Redeemer, by which name He was also called the prophets Jeremiah (25: 5) and Zechariah (3: 8 and 6: 12).
According to the legend, the rumor about the birth of John the Baptist reached the suspicious King Herod and when the Magi came to Jerusalem with the question of where the King of the Jews was born, Herod remembered the son of Zechariah and, issuing an order to beat the babies, sent murderers to the city of Iutta (where, as believe the lived righteous Zechariah and Elizabeth with John). Zacharias at that time served in the temple, and Elisabeth disappeared with her son in the desert. Disgruntled by the non-occurrence of the infant John, Herod sent Zacharias to the temple, asking where he had hidden his son. Zechariah replied that he now serves the Lord God of Israel and does not know where his son is. After threats to deprive him of his life, he repeated that he did not know where his son was, and fell under the swords of the murderers between the temple and the altar, as the Lord recalls in his accusatory speech to the Pharisees (MATTHEW 23: 35).
The Nativity of John the Baptist is celebrated with us on 24 June / 7 July.