Summary: As kids we can't wait for Christmas to arrive. As adults, it rushes up on us. God planned Christmas a long time ago, and for a very special reason. When Zechariah finally found his tongue, he sang a song of praise that reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas Music 2: Zechariah’s Song
Luke 1:67-79 12/16/18
When I was a little kid, I couldn’t wait for Christmas to get here. It seemed like the days dragged by, one by one, and the anticipation built to where I practically couldn’t stand it. Now...well, today, I thought, “Holy cow, it’s just over a week away!” It sneaks up on you, doesn’t it. As we continue our “Christmas Music” series, today we’ll consider that God has been planning for Christmas for a very long time and for a very serious reason.
Last week we looked at Mary’s song, called “The Magnificat,” which she sang after her elder cousin Elizabeth acknowledged the Savior in her womb. Today we will look at Zechariah’s song, called, “The Benedictus,” which is Latin for “praise be.” Zechariah was Elizabeth’s husband. God would give the two of them in their golden years a miracle baby, John the Baptist.
Zechariah’s story is interesting. You’ll find it earlier in Luke chapter 1. Zechariah was a priest who had been chosen to offer up the nightly prayer at the Temple. This was a once-in-a-lifetime honor. While there, Zechariah met an unexpected guest, an angel, who scared him out of his wits. When he settled down, the angel told him he and Elizabeth would have a miracle son in their old age. They were to name him “John,” and he would be like Elijah, a great prophet and forerunner of the Messiah. When Zechariah doubted, the angel took away his voice. And so he stayed speechless for all the months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. After the baby had been born and neighbors in the house asked what they would name him, Zechariah wrote down the words, “His name is John.” Immediately he could talk again. And out came today’s scripture, a Holy Spirit-inspired song!
I have two closely related thoughts from today’s passage, and I’ll ask you to fill in the blanks on your outline. First,
1. God has always had Christmas on his mind.
Why do I believe this? Well, like Mary, Zechariah uses a variety of Old Testament scriptures in his song. That was his Bible then, and he had months to study it while he couldn’t talk. Plus, he and his wife Elizabeth were strong believers, so they knew the scriptures through and through.
Some of the Benedictus is about Zecharias’ and Elizabeth’s son, the forerunner of the Messiah. But most is about the Messiah himself, a Savior to be born. Look what Zechariah says about God, in verses 69 and 70: “He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago).”
I told you last week that there are some 300 Old Testament scriptures that point to Jesus as the Messiah. And here Zechariah repeats one, that the Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah. We know he’s not talking about his son John here, because both Zechariah and Elizabeth came from the priestly tribe of Levi. But Jesus came from the tribe of Judah, which was also the family line of King David.
Did you catch that last phrase from verse 70? “As he said through his holy prophets of long ago.” God planned for Jesus’ arrival a long time ago! How long ago? Verse 73 tells us Jesus’ coming is the fulfillment of the oath sworn to Father Abraham. Back in Genesis chapter 15, God promised Abraham he would make him into a nation, a people of God, even though Abraham and Sarah at the time had no kids. So maybe God planned Christmas then?
But let’s keep going back. As long as people have been sinning, we have needed a Savior. So you might go back to our first parents, Adam and Eve, who brought sin into the world. In the third chapter of the Bible, Genesis 3:15, God promised the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” On practically page 1 of the Bible God promises that Jesus will crush the head of Satan.
But actually, we could go back even farther than that, because nothing catches God by surprise. He knew we would need a Savior from even before creation. Listen to 1 Peter 1:18-20:
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world...” (1 Peter 1:18-20)
God chose his son to be the Lamb, the perfect sacrifice for our sins, even before the creation of the world! That’s advanced planning. God has had Christmas on his mind for a long time!