This Week's Focus Passage

‘And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit.’

Focus Passage: Luke 1:67

‘And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit.’

The gospel according to John is very commonly referenced as being unique among the gospels. This uniqueness of John is conceded by virtually all writers. John stands apart from those accounts that have come to be known as the Synoptics, namely Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Matthew and Mark are very similar in many ways, Mark sometimes almost appearing as a composite of Matthew. Yet Luke is much more distinct from both Matthew and Mark. Certainly, one of the chief reasons is the difference in the authors themselves, Luke notably being a Gentile as well as a physician contribute to his particular perspectives—that is what the term synoptic implies, namely differing angles, views, or perspectives of the same thing—of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There are numerous individuals, events, and circumstances that are brought before us by Luke that we would not possess apart from his gospel account. We do not actually read very much about the father of John the Baptizer from any other source, but in Luke’s account we are given a good bit of information. In Luke 1:67, we read of Zacharias being ‘filled with the Holy Spirit.’ There are others; Luke seems to be somewhat isolated in this respect. In point of fact, Luke is the only inspired writer that has employed the expression, filled with the Holy Spirit, three times in the first chapter of Luke, and another five times in the record that he has given us in the book of Acts. The three occasions in the first chapter of Luke include the promise given in verse fifteen by the angel of the Lord to Zacharias, the future father of John the Baptist. It was declared to him that to her that was barren and them well stricken in years, that:

Thy supplication is heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

The other two occasions are, interestingly enough, with reference to the parents of this one of whom is was declared that he would go before the face of Israel’s God in the spirit and power of Elijah. Then after the annunciation granted to Mary that she would bring forth a son whose name she was to call, Jesus, she paid a visit to her cousin, Elisabeth, who was in the sixth month of her pregnancy. Luke informs us here that when Elisabeth heard the greeting from Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

So that we are informed by Luke that John the Baptist was to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15); we discover that his mother, Elisabeth, was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41); we may subsequently learn that John’s father, in the very same chapter, was filled with the Holy Spirit. Following the account of the deafness imposed upon Zacharias by the Lord because he believedst not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season, and the restoration of his hearing at the birth of his son after he had written, his name is John, he not only regained his hearing, but Luke adds, And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied. Now we have before our minds the fact that these three, John the Baptist, his mother Elisabeth, and his father Zacharias, are the exceptional ones—and the only ones—of whom it is recorded that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. What is the reason, we may well ask, that these three were alone in this? What else did they, perhaps, share in common with one another? John the apostle’s pronouncement heartily prevents us from any consideration that the answer is that they were kinsmen according to the flesh. John clearly set that matter aside when he averred, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The connection is not a blood relationship; neither is it of the will of the flesh; they did not each of them, determine to call the Holy Spirit down to fill them; no, it was not the will of man in any way whatever. It was solely the will of God that they should each, in their own time, be filled with the Holy Spirit.

We inquire once again; what is the common denominator here? Is it not that they were each of them to be called to speak a word for God? Is it not that they were each about to be, as Paul has written in Romans 3:2, intrusted with the oracles of God? In the case of Zacharias, we are clearly told that he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied. This is immediately followed by his prophetic utterance, the particularly beautiful words pronouncing that God was remembering His holy covenant (vs.72); that the dayspring on high shall visit us (vs.78). Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit to declare God’s faithfulness to His promised salvation. We need to put these glorious words to meter that we may sing them to God’s praise. Then we find the exact same thing in the case of Elisabeth when she was filled with the Holy Spirit. It was in order that she also set her imprimatur to the blessedness of the fulfilled promise being in the womb of her cousin Mary. She exulted to declare this reality; and she lifted up her voice with a loud cry, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. That fruit was the promised Christ-child; the One come to save His people from their sin. And then, of course, the son of Zacharias and Elisabeth, John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ of whom it was said as we quoted above, he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit. And to what end? Because it was he that was to called the prophet of the Most High: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to make ready his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people in the remission of their sins.—Luke 1:76-77. John and his parents were filled with the Holy Spirit for the task of pronouncing this message from God. Also from Luke’s pen in Acts; They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak (2:4); Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said unto them (4:8); they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God (4:31).

David Farmer, elder,

Fellowship Bible Church

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