By Brooke Holt
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – Luke 1:76-79
In this passage of Luke’s Gospel, we read the song of Zechariah. Zechariah was one of Israel’s priests who served one day in the temple. While serving in the temple, an angel appeared to him before the altar of incense, and this angel had a life-changing message for Zechariah. God had heard his prayers, and his wife would bear a son (Luke 1:13). While this message sounds glorious to our ears, it would have been completely perplexing to the ears of Zechariah. For years, he and Elizabeth must have pleaded with the Lord for children, and for years Elizabeth remained barren. At this point, Elizabeth was well beyond the years of childbearing. How in the world would she conceive and bear a son?
Zechariah heard the words of the angel and then questioned those words, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years?” (Luke 1:18). It seems a logical question as there aren’t any other reports of angels coming into the temple to make pronouncements of this kind. Due to his questioning, Zechariah was struck mute until the day of John’s birth. This song in today’s main passage signifies the loosening of his lips. Zechariah now sees with his eyes the miracle of his son and believes the words of the angel.
John was the given name by Gabriel, and John was not just another boy on the street. John was called to be the last prophet before the coming of the Messiah, the prophet of the Most High. His calling was to open the hearts and minds of God’s people to the coming Messiah through the call to repentance of sins. And John the Baptist fulfilled his call faithfully. Day after day he spoke the word of the Lord and baptized people for the forgiveness of their sins.
The tender mercy of the Lord was shown towards a barren couple, and the tender mercy of the Lord was then shown to all who would come to John, who would confess their sins, and who would experience his baptism of repentance. Light was coming; thus, darkness had to go.
Sin leads people to live in darkness, and that sin can blind people to the light of God. Because of the mercy of God, he sent his messenger to call people out of that darkness so they could recognize the coming light. The season of Advent now calls us to do the same. We allow the Holy Spirit to shine his light within our hearts, to expose any sin, and then we can move into that same repentance trusting in the tender mercy of our God.
Have you experienced this tender mercy of the Lord? How can allowing the light to shine into your darkness allow you to experience his mercy even more today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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