Summary: In today's lesson we learn that because of the prophecies made, we should bless God.
We are studying the Gospel of Luke in a sermon series I am calling, “To Seek and to Save the Lost.” Today I would like to study the passage in which we learn about Zechariah’s song of praise that is known as the Benedictus, which is the first word of his song in the Latin version of the Bible.
The Benedictus is in fact the third of five nativity songs that Luke records regarding the births of John and Jesus. The five nativity songs are: Elizabeth’s Benedicta (1:42-45), Mary’s Magnificat (1:46-55), Zechariah’s Benedictus (1:68-79), the angels’ Gloria (2:14), and Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis (2:29-32).
So, today we will learn about Zechariah’s Benedictus. And then, Lord willing, we will close our Worship Service by singing a version of the Benedictus that is written by Michael A. Perry.
Let us now read about Zechariah’s song of praise called the Benedictus in Luke 1:67-80:
67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 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 August 14, 1945 President Harry Truman announced that Japan had surrendered, and World War II was over. However, before President Truman’s announcement, news leaked out that the Japanese had surrendered. There was an incredible outburst of spontaneous celebration all over the country. One report said that after the news of the Japanese surrender and before the President’s announcement, Americans began celebrating “as if joy had been rationed and saved up for the three years, eight months and seven days since Sunday, December 7, 1941.” The largest crowd in the history of New York City’s Times Square (up until that time) gathered to celebrate, while in the Garment District, workers threw out cloth scraps and ticker tape, leaving a pile five inches deep on the streets. A “coast-to-coast frenzy of (servicemen) kissing” occurred, with Life publishing photographs of such kisses in Washington, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Miami.
Even though most of us did not live through World War II, we can understand the incredible joy of the people that the war was finally over and that peace had been declared.
That is 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 deliver them from their sins, and declare (as it were) peace between themselves and God.
But for four hundred years—not merely three years, eight months and seven days—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!
Unfortunately, Zechariah doubted Gabriel’s promise that God would give him and Elizabeth a son in their old age. And so the angel struck Zechariah with muteness and told him that he would not be able to speak until the day that these things took place (1:20). And so for nine long months Zechariah was unable to hear or speak to anyone.
Zechariah went home after his service at the Temple in Jerusalem. His wife Elizabeth conceived a child. When she was in her sixth month of pregnancy her relative Mary came to visit her. By this time Mary herself was pregnant with Jesus. They had a wonderful greeting during which both mothers sang praise to God, Elizabeth singing the Benedicta and Mary singing the Magnificat.