When the angel Gabriel came and spoke to Zacharias he brought wonderful news. He and his wife who were now too old to have children were going to have a son, his name was to be John. His very name, "John" means, "Jehovah has been gracious; Jehovah has graciously given" 1or simply, “the grace…of the Lord” 2We know him as John the baptist and we have some idea about who he was and what he did. But try for just a moment to consider the perspective of this old priest standing in the holy place in the temple hearing that he was going to have a son who’s name proclaims God’s grace.
Of course the first thing we usually think of when a baby is to be born is joy. Never a truer word was spoken for these parents. But their great joy is not just for a child – that would not necessarily cause many to rejoice at his birth. This child is different, it is his name which points to the great grace and Mercy of God about to be revealed.
There are three different and very distinct words in use here expressing various shades of rejoicing. The first ( χαρά ) is translated joy and represents that exuberant yet fleeting happiness which we are all familiar with. 3The second (ἀγαλλίασις)