Summary: The resolve we need when it comes to those around us, that we have the God-given chance to be the vessel from which God will change their lives! So determined, that when everyone else has given up, we keep digging, we keep teaching, we keep walking . . .
“A Life-Changing Vessel of God!”
Douglas – Gaelic origin . . . from the black stream, ranked 598th in popularity in the US today . . . but was ranked 30th in 1959 when I was born
Deborah – Hebrew origin . . . Bee . . . most famously used in the Bible, the fourth prophet, and, though ranked 753rd in the US in popularity today, it was ranked 9th the year Debbie was born
Stephanie – Greek origin . . . crowned in victory, 205th most popular name in the US, but was the 8th most popular name for girls born in 1989
Colin – also has a Gaelic origin . . . and means young pup . . . but also means victorious people, and 140th among male names in the US, up from 153 in 1984.
Makenzie – Scottish origin . . . with the spelling as it is, it means beautiful, and is currently the 181st most popular name in the US
Anyone who has a computer, the internet, and Google can find this same information . . . I used two primary websites . . . Wikipedia, and “Behind the Name.”
That brings us to our text this morning . . .
57 Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.
59 And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father. 60 But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. 63 And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. 64 And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God. 65 Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.
In the day of Jesus . . . and John the Baptist, when a boy was born . . .
It was a cause for great celebration
At the time of birth friends and musicians gathered near the house
When it was announced that it was a boy the musicians broke out into song
There was universal congratulations and rejoicing
And, in Elizabeth’s house there was double joy . . . because she gave birth at such an old age
On the 8th day the boy was circumcised and received his name
In Palestine names were very descriptive
Generally carried the significance of the circumstances surrounding the family at the time
o Esau and Jacob . . . Jacob’s name signified a baby boy who had grasped the heel of his brother as Esau was born first . . . and, came to be significant much later when Jacob took Esau’s birth-rite and blessing
Sometimes it described the child himself . . .
o Laban . . . meant blonde or white
It often described the parents joy . . .
o Saul and Samuel both mean “asked for”
Finally, sometimes it was a declaration of the parent’s faith
o Elijah means “Jehovah is my God!”
That might help us understand the confusion that came when Elizabeth, followed by Zacharias, declared that the baby’s name would be JOHN.
Now, it should be noted that John was short from the name Jehohanan, which means Jehovah’s gift, or God is gracious, but that is NOT why he was named John.
He was named John because God instructed them to do so.
You might guess that, when this news got out, it raised the question . . . as seen in our passage . . . “What will this child turn out to be, for the hand of the Lord is with him?”
I spent the week in Phoenix, Arizona, on a bench marking trip for Duke Energy. If you like the afternoon temperature around 110oF and scenery like desert, you would have loved this place. Every day we drove 1 hour and 15 minutes out into the desert to get to the Palo Verde Nuclear Station for our bench mark.