Special Feature | BYU Studies

Special Feature

Light the World
December 4, 2018
Special Feature
Light the World
Author BYU Studies Staff,

The theme of week two of the Church’s Light the World activity is “Light Your Community: Service doesn’t just happen on a grand, global scale. Your own community is full of opportunities to get involved, make a difference, and give as Jesus gave.”

BYU Studies offers readings for understanding the need for people to give service and appreciating the service of others. Today we’ll look at the service of Zacharias and Elisabeth, the parents of John the Baptist.

From Charting the Book of Mormon: “Three Steps in Benjamin’s Logic on Service”

King Benjamin, in his great discourse to the people in the land of Zarahemla, answers the question "Why should we serve?" In his speech recorded in Mosiah 2–5, he provides a logical yet somewhat surprising explanation for service. Benjamin is well known for his famous dictum on service in Mosiah 2:17. Actually, he mentions service two other times as he develops this topic more fully. This chart considers these three statements. They deal with service to God, our debt to God, and knowing God. On one level, a certain logic is embedded within each of these individual statements. On another level, the relationship between them is also logical and interdependent. If we serve men, then we only (merely) serve God. This does not win us great credit, for when we serve God, he blesses us and we are continually in his debt. Thus we have no reason to boast. Why, then, should we serve? If we are humble in our service, we will know God. Knowing the Master whom we serve is the great blessing that profits us more than anything else. This, to Benjamin, is the ultimate reason for service.

From the BYU New Testament Commentary: The Chronicles of Zacharias and Elisabeth: Part One of Three: The Angel Comes to the Priest Zacharias

Zacharias was allowed to enter the sanctuary to light the incense only one day in his life. An angel appears and gives surprising promises.

The Chronicles of Zacharias and Elisabeth: Part Two: Elisabeth

Elisabeth somehow learns from Zacharias, who can’t speak, that he has seen an angel who has promised them a special son. Elisabeth responds by withdrawing from the public, and this is perhaps her effort to intensify her spirituality and prepare for the birth.

The Chronicles of Zacharias and Elisabeth: Part Three: The Birth of John

At the instant that Zacharias writes “His name is John,” a stunning miracle occurs. We read that “his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake” (Luke 1:63–64). The passive verb “was opened” points to the unspoken subject, the One who acts, that is, God. A power outside of Zacharias repairs his speech and hearing. The formerly unbelieving priest, who represents other unbelieving temple officials, is now able to name his son, as the angel promises (Luke 1:13). In this moment, the spirit of prophecy fills him. In his home, we should emphasize. The expression “Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied” (Luke 1:67) indicates that the past year of spiritual preparation is complete, allowing him to bless his newborn son.

The birth, naming, and angelic ordaining of John mark a lofty point in the infant’s history, for now events become real. First, they point to the firm, almost concrete power of prophecy: John’s birth and naming are uttered beforehand in the words of the angel, and now he is physically here, safely inside his parents’ home (Luke 1:13). Second, they make tangible the warm, miraculous actions of God in this world in the form of a child’s unexpected birth to aging parents—completing their family—and in the sudden, public healing of Zacharias. Third, they embody God’s mercy inside an infant who is both to influence his fellow citizens and “to prepare [the Messiah’s] ways” (Luke 1:76; see D&C 84:28).