It’s not too often in the 21st century that people choose names because of their meaning. I looked up the meaning of my name. Robert apparently means “bright fame”, but those two words don’t seem to go together, after all, it’s not a sentence and the words don’t describe anything, so I think naming me Robert had more to do with family history than the meaning of the name.
Prior to the birth of Jesus another baby was born, and his parents called him John. Now that’s a name that has some meaning. At the time of his birth, John meant the Lord is Merciful, or Gracious Gift of God.
There was a bit of a dispute at the time because everyone thought that the baby should be named after his father – don’t you love the way everyone’s got an opinion! But John’s father, Zechariah, had been told by an angel that his baby was to be called John, and Zechariah had the insight to know that John was going to be the person who would prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.
It’s interesting to me that Jesus didn’t just appear on the scene unannounced, but that his cousin, John, was born before him, with the role of preparing the way. As we prepare for Christmas; buying presents, decorating the Christmas tree, and buying the ham, it’s worth remembering that Jesus didn’t come without preparation, and his arrival was not unexpected.