Bill Lear, founder of the Lear Jet Corporation, named his daughter Shanda. The actor Rob Morrow gave his daughter the name Tu. And the daughter of the former governor of Texas had the name Ima Hogg. Our passage today includes questions about what to name a baby. This beautiful, humorous story also underscores God’s great work of provision and delight.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were from the priestly line of Aaron, and they were obedient to God (v. 6). Yet they had both grown old without the blessing of children. As Zechariah fulfilled his priestly duty (likely the only time in his life that he would have been selected to offer incense), the angel Gabriel appeared to him with a promise.
Look at God’s tenderness revealed in this extended announcement: Zechariah and Elizabeth were to have a son, and he would be a joy and delight to them. But not just to them—many would rejoice because of him. Notice all the specifics Zechariah is told about his life and ministry (vv. 14–17). Elizabeth and Zechariah were old and unlikely to see their son’s adulthood, so God gave them the comfort of knowing their son’s future even before he was born.
After this, Zechariah replied, “How can I be sure?” After all, Lord, we’re really old! Gabriel’s response says, You just heard a message directly from Gabriel, an angel from the presence of God—and you still want a sign? Zechariah got a sign—he was struck mute.
God was faithful to His promise; Elizabeth had a son, and her friends and relatives were overjoyed for her (v. 58). One can imagine the well–meaning family members, so confident that tradition would be followed and the infant would be given a family name. Elizabeth announced that the name would in fact be John. When the family protested, they asked Zechariah, who wrote clearly: “His name is John” (v. 63). Immediately he regained his speech, and his first words after months of silence were filled with praise to God.