Wednesday 24 June 2020

Bible Book:

‘His name is John.’ (v. 63b)

Luke 1:57-66, 80 Wednesday 24 June 2020

Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7


Zechariah had been visited by an angel whilst he was serving in the Temple and told that he and his wife would have a son. He was told many things by the angel, one of which was the name he should give the child. Zechariah was then struck dumb because he asked how he would know that the angels words were true given that he and his wife were old.

In these verses the baby has now been born and they are taking him to be circumcised – the moment when baby boys are also named. This is not just about finding a name that sounds nice, it is instead about giving a name that shapes and describes who the child is to be. The assumption is that he would be given the name of Zechariah like his father, perhaps with the expectation that he would follow in his footsteps as a priest. But instead both Elizabeth and Zechariah say that his name should be John.

The name John comes from the Hebrew name Yochanan, which means 'YHVH was gracious'. Whilst this story is not about a virgin birth, this name acknowledges the remarkable intervention of God in making this baby possible. Zechariah consciously takes a back seat by naming him John and it is at this point that Zechariah is able to speak again. His first words with his loosened tongue are singing the praises of God.

This story echoes that of the birth of Samuel in 1 Samuel 1, whose mother Hannah was also unable to have children. Samuel was a great prophet of Israel who anointed King Saul and then King David. Perhaps the neighbours and relatives had this story in mind when they wondered what kind of man John would grow up to be. Luke uses the phrase ‘the hand of God was upon him’ to inform us that just as God intervened in the birth of John, God’s involvement in John’s life was continuing.


To Ponder: 

  • What does your name mean? What does it mean to you? What do you think it means to God?
  • How much freedom would John have in his life?
  • Elizabeth and Zechariah got what they desired but ultimately John belonged to God. Do your desires and God’s will intertwine or is it a struggle?
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