In Luke 1 the writer gives us the story before the story. He introduces us to three people with key roles in the soon-unfolding Christmas narrative. Each of these three lends a voice of praise with a theme that weaves itself throughout the story of Christ’s birth and through the greater redemption story. Elizabeth was the voice of joy. Mary was the voice of faith. The final voice belongs to Zacharias. His is the voice of hope.
Zacharias was a priest and the father of John the Baptist. Months earlier, when his son’s birth was announced by an angelic messenger, Zacharias expressed his very natural doubts about it coming to pass. Here at the end of the chapter with John’s birth, Zacharias breaks forth with praise to God who goes far beyond the natural to accomplish His plans. Zacharias’s hymn is called the Benedictus.
He says in verses 70-71 “As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old– Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US.” Zacharias now understood that the fulfillment of God’s promise to him meant the fulfillment of His promise to send a Deliverer. The time had come.
Zacharias measured events against Scripture in order to understand what was happening. When he did, hope was his response. If we follow his example rather than letting culture or the media interpret things for us, we will find hope rather than despair.
Of course, Zacharias wasn’t delusional. He could look around and see that Israel wasn’t magically delivered in that moment. However, his faith in God had proven itself and so hope became urgently real.
When has God proven Himself to you? Does that impact how you see the world around you?
Over verses 72-74, he notes several markers in God’s actions. Mercy promised. Covenants remembered. Oaths sworn. Deliverance accomplished. Zacharias speaks of them all in past tense. They are as good as done in his mind. That is the confident hope he has in God.
Zacharias, the voice of hope, encourages us to focus on God’s promises. Because of His faithfulness and His power to accomplish them we can put our full faith and trust in Him. Christmas is a stunning proof of the unwavering trustworthiness of God’s promise to redeem us. Just like Zacharias we are anchored to that blessed hope.
Before we wrap up, consider the end goal of the deliverance. Why did God deliver Israel and us? It’s so that we “would serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness in his presence all our days.” (Luke 1:74-75) Words fail in trying to describe what God has done for us, the wonder of salvation that was set in motion at Christmas. Let’s make sure we do everything in our power to serve Him in holiness and righteousness all our days.