The gospels contain two different birth events that are angelically foretold. Mary (Luke 1.26-38) and Joseph (Matthew 1.18-25) are made aware that they are going to be the parents of Jesus, who will be the Christ. Joseph is told to name the Child Jesus because the name means “Jehovah is salvation”. Similarly, Zechariah is visited about the birth of his son in Luke 1.11-21. The son of Zechariah and Elizabeth would be the long-awaited harbinger for the Christ. Just as Joseph is instructed what to name his son, Zechariah’s child is named for him as well; John!
Typically, we would call this man “John the Baptist”. Many despise the denominational connotation and call him “John the Immerser”. This is due to his message of repentance as he fulfills the prophecy from Luke 1.17, that he will “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared”.
John is a wonderful and powerful figure, even if very little is written about him in the New Testament. Much of what we know about him is from Malachi. John is prophesied to be a messenger who will prepare the way before the Messiah. Jesus Himself says, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11.11). What kind of Elijah-like stuff did John do? The answer, we do not fully know. Because John’s whole existence was to point to something greater than himself (John 1.27). Two verses later John says of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Hallelujah! Jesus is our Salvation!
Now, check this cool word-play out; John’s name in Hebrew is “Jochanan”, which means “YHWH is gracious”. John’s purpose was to come so that he could point to “God’s salvation”; Jesus. So, in these two names you get Titus 2:11: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people”.
Let us respond to the provided salvation like Mary (Luke 1.46-50): My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant… For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. And His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation.