The crowd who rejoiced with Elizabeth and Zechariah over the birth of their son asked, “What then will this child become?” (Luke 1.66).
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Zechariah answered the question about his miracle-birth son.
There is a pattern that underlies the births of John and Jesus: Promise + Fulfillment + Response.
The angel Gabriel promised a son to a couple who were beyond the age of conception. The birth of John was the fulfillment.
At first, Zechariah responded with unbelief. Now, his response is one of praise and prophecy.
The Holy Spirit empowered Zechariah and he praised God saying,
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
“He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
As he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
“The oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.” (Luke 1.68-75)
The people understood Zechariah when he spoke of “redemption.” Let’s make sure we know God’s redemption is worthy of our praise.
People who are redeemed are liberated, delivered, and released. Imagine that you are a slave who is up for sale in a slave market. Suppose someone buys you because they want to set you free.
Probably, the crowd around Zechariah thought that God was about to free them from the oppression of the Roman government.
We will learn in Luke that God has liberated us from slavery to sin through the work of his Son, Jesus.
God’s promise to the nation’s ancestors was fulfilled in the birth of John. The proper response to God’s action was to serve God in holiness and righteousness all the days of their lives.
The Bible is filled with promises. Here are two of Jesus’ promises to people who follow him.
— Matthew 7.7-8 – “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.
“For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
How have we responded to this prayer promise? Do we ask and keep on asking, filled with the belief that we will receive what will give us?
— John 14.15-17 – If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.
“This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
How have you responded to the gift of the Holy Spirit? Are you conscious of the Spirit’s activity in your life? Are you directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit?
With Zechariah’s prophecy, he answered the question: “What will this child become?”
“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
by the forgiveness of their sins.
“By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
“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)
Zechariah puts his son, John, in his proper place. He is to be a prophet and his role is to prepare the way for the Lord.
John’s baptism of repentance is the principal means of preparing the way for people to be receptive to Jesus.
Jesus is the Savior, who will die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy about light.
— Isaiah 42:6 – I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
— Isaiah 49:6 – God says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Isaiah 60:1 – Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Isaiah 60:19 – The sun shall no longer be
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give light to you by night;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Isaiah gave his prophecy. Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy. The response of the people varied.
Some became followers of Jesus. Others opposed him and sought to put him to death.
The question is how will we respond to his redemption, liberation, and freedom from sin? Will we seek to walk in the light of the Lord?
Dear God, we praise you for your grace, love, redemption, and light. We receive what you have done for us with joy.
Rudy Ross has written extensively about “Light.” You can find his writing in earlier articles on my blog. In today’s YouTube video, Rudy dives into the subject of Light. You can find it on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.