Back in Biblical times, names held significance. And the meaning of the name typically applied to the personality of that individual and who the parents would hope they’d become. When Elizabeth delivered John the Baptist, the entire family and neighbors came over on the 8th day for the circumcision and naming party. As tradition held, the community was going to name the first son after his father. Elizabeth responded that his name is John. Since during that time, a women’s opinion didn’t account for much, they went to Zacharias and he wrote down, “His name is John” as the child was already named by God. Upon confirming the name, Zacharias immediately was no longer mute. He could talk again because he was obedient to God by naming the child John which means, “God is Gracious.”
Today names don’t apply like they did in the past. Our parents name us. But then the community will slap a label on us. It’s not just perception of ourselves, but how the culture around us will try to define us. It is difficult to know our identity or who we want to be when, from birth, we have been influenced by everything around us or what we hear about us. The Social Media society can “gang up” on you – known as the “mob” mentality. They want to classify us, pressure us to what we should become.
In addition, we think a past or tradition should dictate our present and future. Well…this is who I am because I’ve always been this way. Once an unreliable deadbeat, always a deadbeat. Or you’re going to be a mason because your father and his father were Masons. In this naming instance, God broke the tradition of naming the firstborn son after the father. Christ breaks us from our past and tradition so we can move forward and grow.
Another naming method is based on circumstance. The crowd goes around Elizabeth’s words. They go to a higher source, Zacharias is the man in authority. Elizabeth really has no power, and the family all knew that. When you feel powerless by your circumstances, and you don’t have the resources or the power or the ability to change your situation, you identify based on circumstances. This is really who I am because I’m stuck.
God renames and redefines who we are. He gives us a new shape. Your circumstances may be difficult right now, but your future is bright in Jesus’ hands. Zacharias understood this and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He went from Rebuke to rejoicing with a song to praise God.
What does your name mean and does your personality match the meaning? Mine is pretty spot on. As a child, I have always stuck up for those that were picked on in school. I have always been one to champion the Underdog. And when it comes to the adrenaline the “fight or flight,” response, I will battle. I married Bill or William and oddly, his name is similar in meaning – “resolute Protector” – Interesting.
Study Luke 1:57-80 (ESV) / TFAB / Pastor Loren video