The Benedictus - Zechariah's Song

December 13, 2019 Preacher: Gareth Franks Series: The Gospel of Luke

Topic: Christian Living Scripture: Luke 1:67–80

We have already seen that in the first two chapters of Luke there are five songs. Today we are going to look at the 3rd song. We’ve seen Elizabeth and Mary’s songs, and now we come to Zechariah’s song when his mouth is opened and his heart pours forth blessing and praise to God.

Now of course, in the context of what Luke is doing in Luke 1 and 2, everything is leading up to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything’s pointing to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, but along the way, even as Luke’s central focus is to focus us on Jesus Christ – who He is, what He’s come to do – he also teaches us much about living the Christian life, and so we’ll learn both of those things as we study this passage together today.

"And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 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." And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel." 
(Luke 1:67-80)

On Tuesday, the 29th October, Keri, the children and I were checking in our luggage at the Oliver Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, to fly back to Abu Dhabi. This was the same day that the South Africa Rugby Team were arriving back after winning the Rugby World Cup in Japan. The airport was crowded with fans and well wishers who had been waiting for hours to get the best spots to celebrate the homecoming of our international champions. If you know anything about South Africa, you know that our country still struggles with racial divide, but not at the airport that Tuesday. That day there was PEACE among all men! All the countries problems and differences were put aside. People from all classes and all races were singing the praises of this team, together in unity, even hugging and embracing each other, as they shared in the glory of this winning world cup team. The whole airport was filled with hope, that SOMEHOW this Rugby team was going to bring peace and reconciliation to the whole country. It was a privilege to be there and to revel in the joy, reconciliation and peace of the country…even if it was only for a couple of hours!

I think this is a fraction of the kind of joy that Luke is communicating to us in the beginning of his Gospel. In the Old Testament God had promised his people that he would send them a Savior, someone who would reconcile them to God, by delivering them from their sins. But for four hundred years God had been silent. The people of God lived in discouragement and despair. I am sure they often prayed and asked God to act.

Then, one day God sent his angel Gabriel to a priest named Zechariah while he was serving at the Temple in Jerusalem. Gabriel told Zechariah that God was going to give him and his barren old wife Elizabeth a son who would be the messenger to the Savior. Finally, God was taking action again!

We know what happened next. Zechariah doubted the word from God, that God would give Elizabeth and him a son in their old age. So for nine months, as a result of his unbelief , Zechariah was not able to speak to anyone. Three months after Mary visits with Elizabeth, she gives birth to Zechariah’s son.

We saw last week how the entire community rejoiced that God had shown mercy to Elizabeth by giving her a child when she was old and barren. On the eighth day when the community gathered to circumcise and name the boy, they assumed that he would be named Zechariah after his father. However, Elizabeth insisted that his name was John, which was the name Gabriel told Zechariah to give the child. The community then appealed to Zechariah. And as soon as he also emphatically insisted that the boy’s name was John…which was a demonstration of his renewed faith in God, he was immediately enabled to speak, and he burst out in praise to God. There was incredible joy because God was at long last sending deliverance and peace to his people.

The Benedictus is Zechariah’s song of praise to God. So let’s walk through the three glorious parts of The Benedictus, of the song of blessing sung by Zechariah, and see what we can learn about our God and about our Savior, and about our salvation, and about the way that we are to walk in daily life.

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