Luke 1:57-66

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.”

They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him.

He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God.

Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. Luke 1:57-66

I would love to have a name like John, or Paul, or Mark, or David. Something easy to spell. Something that clearly conforms to gender norms. But my mother fiercely said, “NO, his name will be Kerry.”

It was quite the controversy. As the first-born male, the Norwegian tradition (or so I have been told) was to take the names of my grandfather and great-grandfather. Thus it was written in the stars that my name would be Knute Lionel. (Pronounced, I kid you not, K-newt and Lee-oh-nel.)

My mother steadfastly refused. But she was willing to compromise with the initials so I became Kerry Lee. Kerry, a misspelling of Cary Grant, and Lee…I guess because it starts with an L.

As painful as it was to grow up with a girl’s name, and as much as I hate the name to this day (No, that’s Kerry with a K, not Terry, or Larry, or Berry) I guess I’m still glad my mom won.

In the Bible, the ability to name things is a sign of power. In the garden, the man was given the power to give names to all the animals. That still remains the case. With great hopes for the future, often honoring the past, parents name their children.

Elizabeth said, “NO, he is to be called John.” And thus it was so.

John means “God is gracious” or “a gift from God.” And so he was. God’s gift to Elizabeth and Zechariah and God’s gift to the world. The latest in a long line of godly heroes born to parents who long ago had lost their hope that it would ever happen for them.

It is no surprise that the first words out of Zechariah’s mouth were shouts of praise. And it is no surprise that the news of this birth was a bit scandalous and therefore worthy of passing through the hillsides like the juicy tidbit that it was.

A child. A gift from God. God has been gracious.

“No, he is to be called John!”

Let us pray: Dear Lord, the naming of John calls to mind our own names, our own parents, and for those of us blessed with children, memories of how it was that we came to name our own. But today we are grateful that you know our names, that our name was grafted onto yours in our baptisms, and that you can still do great things through us. We are all your gifts to the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

One Response to “Luke 1:57-66”

  1. garlee931 Says:

    I love in Luke 1:41 where it says “At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

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