57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. 59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” 61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” 62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
Thoughts: The name "John" means "God is gracious." That is an appropriate name for one who is shown mercy, and it was a common name of the time (eg. John Mark, John the son of Zebedee). The Levitical priests were very traditional. But Zechariah showed he finally believed the angel when he wrote, "His name is John." Sometimes when we do not believe we wander away and suffer the consequences of our unbelief. But the good news is that God offers us restoration, and puts a new song in our mouth. Zechariah was not only able to speak, but he finally had a son! If we come back to God in belief, He welcomes us gladly!
Prayer: God, be gracious to me, and help me to believe in your grace.
John Calvin Abridged: The narratives around John the Baptist's birth were distinguished by miracles which gave reason to expect that something great and remarkable would appear in the child himself in the future. There is no magic in names, but parents should choose wisely to instruct and admonish their children. Honor was given to the prophet-child by allowing his father to speak at his birth. When John began his ministry, few remembered the miracles of his birth. But this instructs us that we are too quick to remember trivial things, and slow to remember the acts of God in our lives.