Friday, December 23, 2011

Devotion 19. Zechariah’s Testimony

After John (the Baptist) was born, Zechariah was allowed to speak. But the first speech he gave was from the Holy Spirit.

Here is what he said, started at Luke 1:67:
“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.

The Holy Spirit first directed John to praise the Father. He praised the Father for sending the Son as the Savior. You have a nice little Trinitarian event here.
This praise also comes in the context of covenant. God is praised as the covenant keeping God. He mentioned God’s covenant with Abraham and his covenant with David. He said both covenants were fulfilled in the coming of Christ.

Zechariah also testified that Christ’s coming fulfilled the words of the prophets of old. All of the prophets testified to a future redemption and deliverance of God’s people. Christ fulfilled that by bringing salvation and drawing men and women into it. He made people all over the earth “his people” by transferring them from the kingdom of darkness to his kingdom of light.

John would be the prophet of this salvation. The Holy Spirit made clear through Zechariah that this salvation would not be a military triumph, throwing off Roman rule. It would be forgiveness of sins.

He also told us what this forgiveness and salvation was for. It was not just a get out of hell free card. It was not to recite magic words that get us into heaven when we die. No, we are subjects of a king. We can be subjects to sin and the devil. Or we can be subjects of Christ. Subjects serve their king and master. (John 8:34; Romans 6:16) Therefore, Zechariah says it means they “might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”

Modern Evangelism does not often preach this service. The plea is to come and take Jesus into your heart, words not really found in the Bible. What we do is receive him (John 1:12). We receive him as savior, but also as master and king. We become his servants as well as his brothers.

So the plea to repent is not just to feel sorry for your sin. Repent really means to turn around, to do a U-turn and head in the right direction. So, the plea is to turn away from following your selfish desires, from the path of sin, and to turn around and follow the path of righteousness in service to Christ. Jesus said “if any one would serve me he must follow me” (John 12:26). That sounds easy until you consider the context. He was talking about his death. He meant to serve him was to follow him to death, to despise this life lived for yourself and to embrace the life devoted to serving Christ, even if it meant dying for him.

Christmas would be a great time to start following Christ.
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