The angel Gabriel promised Zechariah that John would be great in the sight of the Lord (Luke 1:15) in preparation for the coming Messiah. The news was great joy for Zechariah and Elizabeth. What would this “new Elijah” prophet be like? Could a name different from the family’s tradition make such a difference?
Parents want meaningful names for their children. Labeling each child is an attempt to quietly speak to their growth and personality into adulthood.
Our children encounter other names about themselves and others as they grow. Descriptive words, both complimentary and not, create pictures in a child’s life that can influence how they develop and how they relate to the world around them. Names are important. They form much of human relationships.
God uses names, too. When he finished creation, God called it “good.” When the people were lost or in distress, God “redeemed” them. When the people turned away from their Lord in sin, God “disciplined” them. When they repented their separation from God’s way, they experienced “forgiveness.”
Our words promote good and evil. John the Baptist named our brokenness and the source of our salvation. On the cross, Jesus demonstrated that we are children of a loving God.
God, may we experience your baptismal naming as everlasting love. Amen. — SO