So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”
But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.
And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God.
[Luke 1:59-64 NKJV]
In some ways in this meditation, I am shamelessly leaning on my own family and my experience of it; but it is what I know, and all of us can only speak from what we know.
In the Bible names are very important indeed. I learned that when I did a study on rebuilding the gates of Jerusalem as told in the book of Nehemiah. The names of the many saints who contributed to that work spoke enormously of the spiritual nature of that rebuilding and gave me an insight into something of which I’d been told but not realised until I’d seen it for myself.
This is important — seeing it for yourself — because our relationship with the Lord is an intensely personal thing. He speaks to you and I according to our relationship with Him, but never against His connection with His creation. Do we know this?
In this passage from Luke, many were astonished that Zacharias, John’s father, went against tradition and did not name his son after himself, but as Elizabeth had heard. This was a man who had now heard from the Holy Spirit. We are encouraged to do the same.
John, as we know, means “Jehovah is a gracious giver”. Isn’t He just. John (the Baptist) had a crucial part to play in the eternal story. Jesus’ name was important, and each one of us is named by God in His eternal purpose. We are, each one, given a new name in Him. That name is Jeshua (which is also Joshua, which is also Jesus) and means ‘He is saved’.
We are called by the name of our Father, which is salvation. Our natural fathers were integral to our earthly existence; but our Heavenly Father is essential to our eternal existence. Always remember that we have been called by the name of His Father.
Never forget that our capacity in spiritual matters is measured by the promises of God. Is God able to fulfil His promises? Our answer depends on whether we have received the Holy Spirit.