A grandmother was playing Christmas carols on the piano for her 4-year-old great-granddaughter, Natalie. When she played “Away in a Manger,” the grandmother started to sing as she played. After just a few words, Natalie tugged on her grandmother’s sleeve and said, “Just let the piano sing it, Grandma.” 
Do you ever feel that way when you sing? That nobody wants to hear your voice? Well, when you sing, you aren’t singing for others. You’re singing for God. And God always wants to hear you sing. Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 is one of the verses in this grand musical introduction to Luke’s Gospel. Another verse in this musical masterpiece is the song of Zacharias. It is found in Luke 1:67-79. It is the second verse.
One lady tells of the time she was directing the children’s church musical Christmas play. She asked one of her daughters and another little boy if they would be willing to play two verses of “Silent Night” on their flutes. The boy answered and said, “But Mrs. Anderson, I only know the first verse.” 
This is the way it is with the song of Zacharias. It’s the second verse of this song, and it picks up where Mary left off, but really, it’s more of the same. It’s the same song, second verse, with the same theme, similar ideas, and related words. Both verses focus on the greatest theme ever found. Both focus on Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.
Before we look at Zach’s song, let me ask you a question. If you had not been able to talk for a year, what would you say when you finally could speak? “The Benedictus was, no doubt, formed in the heart of Zacharias during the long months of enforced muteness, when he was dumb and not able to speak. After nine months of silence it came streaming out like the molten metal when issue is given to it.” 
“One can’t help thinking that the mind and heart of Zacharais during all those nine months had been filling with this song. And now it burst forth at once – as a flower suddenly bursts out where there was but a [green] bud yesterday.”  Zacharias, with the first words out of his mouth after nine months of silence, praises God and prophecies about the future.
Luke 1:67. Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
Zacharias is going to prophecy about, and praise God for two things. First, for the salvation that is to come through the Messiah (Luke 1:68-75), and second, he has some praise for his own newborn son because he will be the prophet who will prepare the way for the Messiah (Luke 1:76-79).
So let’s look at both sections one at a time. First, Zacharias praises God for salvation.
1. Praise to God for Salvation (Luke 1:68-75)
These verses are a treatise on salvation. They tell us of the greatest gift God has ever sent to earth – the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Zacharias probably spoke these verses thinking primarily of God’s promises to the nation of Israel to deliver her from her enemies and restore her to her rightful place among the nations. So when he speaks of salvation in these verses, he means temporal, physical salvation from enemies like the Roman government. We’ll see this when we look at Luke 1:69.
So although these verses do not directly apply to us, we can draw principles from them and apply the principles. The main principle is that Jesus Christ came to save us from our enemies. Our greatest enemies are sin and Satan, death and hell. Jesus Christ came to deliver and save us from these enemies. So I want us to look at these verses from that perspective. It is in Luke 1:68 where we learn that God is the author of our salvation.
A. The Author of Salvation (Luke 1:68)
Luke 1:68. Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
We often underestimate the magnificence of the plan of salvation that originated in the mind of God. The plan of salvation which the Bible teaches is completely unlike any other plan of salvation we find among the man made world religions. And only a God like ours could have thought it up, and brought it to pass.
Dr. Talmage writes that salvation is “the masterpiece of eternity! There were so many difficulties to be overcome! There were such infinite consequences to be considered! There were such gulfs to bridge, and such heights to scale, and such immensities to compass! If God had been less than omnipotent, He would not have been strong enough; of less than omniscient, I do not think He would have been wise enough; or less loving, would have been sympathetic enough. There might have been a God strong enough to create a universe, and yet too weak to do this. To create the worlds, only a word was necessary; to do this work required more than a word. It required more than ordinary effort of a God. It required the dying anguish of an Only Son.”
The first words out of his mouth are praise to God for what He has done and will do. He is about to redeem Israel, ransom captive Israel. Deliver them from their bondage. This is the purpose of salvation.
B1. The Purpose (Luke 1:69)
Luke 1:69. And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
It appears that Zacharias knows that Mary and Joseph were of royal decent. That the son Mary carries will be of the house of David. The horn in Scripture signifies glory and dignity, strength and power. An elk or a white tail buck is considered majestic and mighty by the size and shape of its antlers.
The Messiah is likened to just such a horn. He is strong and majestic. He is mighty. And since He is the horn of salvation, He is strong to save. Strong to save from what? Well, the word “salvation” is used in the Bible many, many different ways. Here, Zacharias seems to be using it in reference to deliverance from their enemies. Deliverance from Rome and the Idumean King Herod, sitting on the throne in Jerusalem. So the horn of salvation means that the Messiah will be strong to save them from their enemies. Zacharias got this truth about salvation from the Word of God. This is what he says in Luke 1:70.
C1. The Record (Luke 1:70)
Luke 1:70. As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
About Christmas time, a family was expecting their oldest son to come home from college. He was arriving on the midnight plane. All the younger children were excited, and wanted to stay up until his arrival. They begged their father to let them stay up. But he replied, “No, it will be too long for you to wait; you must go to rest; you will see John in the morning.”
This is how the ancient prophets spoke about the Messiah – their eldest brother Jesus. They longed to see him come, but their father in heaven caused them to enter the cold bed of the grave before His arrival. David prayed, “Father, let me see the Horn of Salvation of which I sang so well.” Job, in the midst of his pain and suffering, begged, “Father, let me see my living Redeemer. Oh, that there might be someone to intercede for me before God.”
But to all of these, the Father says, “No, my child, you must rest.”
We read in Hebrews 11 that “they were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise” (Heb. 11:37-38).
I am so thankful that I live after the time of Christ rather than before. We have received the promise. We have seen the fullness of God’s grace, mercy and love, poured out upon us in Jesus Christ. The Old Testament is just a bunch of stories and hard to understand writings. It is the cries of those who came before us to see what we have seen, to hear what we have heard, to know what we have known. The Old Testament is an account of people longing to see Jesus.
Do you realize how blessed we are to be living after the time of Christ? Zacharias does. Having referred to the Word of God, he now goes back to focus again on the purpose of salvation – to save us from our enemies.
B2. The Purpose (Luke 1:71)
Luke 1:71. That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
Who is it that hates us most? Satan. He hates us because we belong to God, and Satan hates everything that belongs to God. The world hates us also. Jesus said that the world will hate us because it hated Him first. Our flesh also hates us. We are somewhat schizophrenic. We have a new nature which strives to be like Christ, and we have an old, dead nature, called our flesh, which seeks to drag us back into our old way of living. The old nature hates the new way of life and hates our new identity. It too is an enemy. Jesus came to deliver us from the hand, or rule, of all these enemies. He came to deliver us from Satan, the world, and our flesh. He came to deliver us from sin.
Again, Zacharias gleaned these truths from Scripture which he alludes to again in Luke 1:72-73.
C2. The Record (Luke 1:72-73)
Luke 1:72-73. To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
This salvation from our enemies was a promise, a covenant, an oath to the people of the Old Testament, but by the mercy of God, the fulfillment of these promises has been poured out upon those who follow Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that we are Abraham’s spiritual seed (Rom. 9:7). So again, the Bible tells us about this salvation.
Now, in Luke 1:74-75, Zacharias repeats himself again, and focuses one more time on the purpose of salvation.
B3. The Purpose (Luke 1:74-75)
Luke 1:74a. To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
This is just like a musical piece. There’s repetition. There are refrains and choruses. Parts and counterparts. Singing and echoes.
He said in verse 69 that the purpose of the Messiah’s coming was to save us from our enemies. Then he tells us in verse 70 that he got this truth from the Bible – that it was a promise made to the forefathers, but only now fulfilled. Then in verse 71, he said once again that the purpose of these promises was to deliver God’s people from their enemies. Zacharias repeats himself in Luke 1:72-73, stating that he learned these truths from the Bible, and finally, once again, in Luke 1:74, the purpose of this salvation is to deliver us from our enemies.
Do you get the idea that Zacharias is trying to make a point? What the Word promised has now been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Salvation from our enemies has come. This is what Zacharias says over and over. Why? He finally tells us in the last part of Luke 1:74 and on into Luke 1:75.
Luke 1:74b-75. That we…Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
Now that we have been saved from our enemies, we are to serve Him, all the days of our lives. And it says that we can do this without fear. People in the Old Testament lived in constant fear of God. There is still a fear of the Lord we live under today, but there is also an intimacy and friendship we can have with God through Jesus Christ that was never before available to God’s people. We can call Him Father. Jesus can be our friend. We are filled with the Holy Spirit.
He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love and acceptance. Romans 8:15 says that He has not given us a spirit that makes us a slave again to fear, but he has given us a spirit of sonship, and by Him, we cry, Abba, Father. We don’t serve Him out of fear any more, but out of joy, love and gratitude. Though we were all slaves to Satan, we have been set free through Jesus Christ. As His freedmen, we owe God a willing, cheerful and delightful service, without fear, and a constant, persevering service all the days of our lives.
Well, from here Zacharias moves on to talk about his son, John, and the part he will play in the plan of God. He praises John for being the one to prepare the way for the Messiah.
2. Praise to God for his son, John (Luke 1:76-79)
Luke 1:76. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
John will also fulfill prophecies out of Isaiah and elsewhere about going before the Messiah to prepare the way for the Lord. Zacharias recognizes these prophecies here and emphasizes them – especially this aspect about John preparing the way for the Messiah. It’s an important task to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. But did you know that you can do it too?
Did you realize that you too can prepare the way for the Messiah? You can prepare the way for others to meet the Messiah. Although He has already come, He is coming again, and He has called us to prepare the way for His second coming. How? First, by preparing yourself. A lot of times, things in our lives are great stumbling blocks to people who would come to Christ. But if we repent of these things, and, as Zacharias says in Luke 1:75, serve God in holiness and righteousness, it will go a long way in preparing the way for others to meet the Messiah. Some non-Christians have noted that the worst parts about Christianity are the Christians. They say they would become a Christian if it weren’t for all the Christians. Mahatma Ghandi thought this, as did Mark Twain. May they not say such things about you and me. Let us live for Christ, and so prepare the way for Him.
You can also prepare the way for the Messiah to return to earth by supporting missions through giving and praying. Jesus will not return to earth until every person on earth has heard the good news of eternal life. This will not be completed until the end of the tribulation, but we can be helping in the progress right now by supporting and praying for missionaries who are working among the unreached people groups.
Thirdly, we can also prepare for Christ’s coming by witnessing to friends and neighbors. Right now we are living in what the Bible calls “The Time of the Gentiles.” It is the time when God has temporarily set aside Israel as His chosen vessel to reach the world for Jesus Christ, and is now using the church. The Bible tells us that God has a certain number of Gentiles that he wants to see saved. When that number is reached, when the full number of gentiles has come in (Rom. 11:25), then the rapture of the church will happen and we will forever more be with the Lord.
Maybe that person you know you should share the Gospel with, but haven’t, is the one God is waiting for. Do you want to prepare the way for the Lord? Share Him with your friends and neighbors. Support missions work being done around the world, serve God in holiness and righteousness. These things will help prepare the way for His coming.
Luke 1:77-79 explain what the Messiah will do after John has prepared the way. I think it’s interesting that Zacharias doesn’t spend much time praising his son, John. Praising his son leads him to praise the Savior. There are three things he praises Jesus for. One, to give knowledge, two to give light, and three, to give peace.
A. Knowledge (Luke 1:77-78)
Luke 1:77-79. To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
The tender mercy of God is one of the most intimate truths in Scripture. The words bring to mind a loving mother tenderly caring for her children. They picture a father, gently teaching a toddler to walk. Some people think of God only as this demanding, angry, frowning judge who sits on his throne casting about lightning bolts and natural disasters. This is not the picture of Luke 1:78.
God, though He is the God of thundershowers, is also the God of dewdrops. Though He did create the unbending oak tree, he also created the tiny blade of grass. He is the God who heals. He is the God who mends. We have bruised and feeble souls, and He washes and cleanses our wounds with the most gentle of hands. God is not harsh toward you, but is full of tender mercy.
The word Dayspring could also be translated “Sunrise” but the dayspring is the part of the sunrise that is before the sun actually rises. Those of you who are up before sunrise, know that dawn begins with a glow above the eastern mountains. As the sunrise progresses, the glow gets brighter and brighter until right before the sun peaks over the eastern mountains, rays of light burst upward into the sky. This is the dayspring. It is the few minutes or even seconds of the dawn right before the sun appears.
This is what Zacharias is talking about. It’s been a long night. The day is almost here. The sun has almost risen. But He has not come yet. But it is the dayspring. In a few moments, the sun will come, and the day will begin. This is the second thing the Messiah brings. The world was in a dark night, black with sin, but Jesus was the sunrise, bringing light.
B. Light (Luke 1:79a)
Luke 1:79a. To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
Have you ever been lost in the dark? It’s a terrifying experience, especially if you are in unfamiliar territory. For all you know, one step in any direction might lead you off cliff. If you are trying to get somewhere, you have no idea if the direction you are headed is the right direction or not.
Oftentimes, the best thing to do in such situations, is just sit down and wait for daylight. This is what Zacharias says the world has done. They have been lost in the darkness, and so rather than move about trying to find their way home when they might actually be going the wrong direction, they just sit there, in the darkness, waiting for either death or light. Those are your only two options when you’re lost. To die, or receive light.
The world doesn’t know where to turn spiritually. Though on the outside, they are going here, and going there, and making money, and having a good time eating and drinking, inside, they are lost in the dark, and just sitting there. They don’t know which way to turn. They don’t know where they should go. They don’t know where truth is, and how to find God. They may try various things. Buddhism, Hinduism and Indian Spiritism are popular things people try out today. I guess among Hollywood actors, it’s scientism that is popular. You know what they are doing? They’re walking in the dark. It’s just a matter of time before they fall into a ditch or off a cliff.
Most of the world, however, just sits there, in the darkness, waiting either for death or light. Zacharias says that light comes with Jesus Christ, the Dayspring from on high. He is the dawn in the darkness, brining light to those who are dying.
Believing in Jesus Christ for eternal life is the only way this light shines into our lives. All other attempts to receive the light are but deeds of darkness. We only receive the light when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. But even once this is done, and the light shines into our lives, we still go through times and periods of darkness.
It’s just like the seasons. We are currently in the darkest part of the year. If you have a work schedule like mine, you get up while it is still dark, get to work before the sun comes up, and leave work after the sun goes down. Unless I make a point to go outside during the daytime, I could go for days without seeing the sun. This has a terrible effect on my attitude and demeanor. I get depressed and easily tired. I would never survive in a place like Alaska where the sun doesn’t really come up for several months at a time.
This is sometimes the way it is in our Christian lives. Even after we have been delivered from the darkness of sin, that old body of death still clings on. It’s amazing how strong a dead body can be. Do you ever feel yourself being dragged back into the old patterns of sin that you hate so much, but seem to have such a strong pull on you? Do you ever feel that though you have seen the dawning of a great light, darkness still clings to your soul? You feel deadness in prayer, deadness in reading the Word, deadness in hearing the truth, deadness in desires after the Lord, deadness to everything holy, spiritual, heavenly and divine? Do you ever feel a numbness, a fleshliness, a worldliness that seems to freeze up every Godly desire of your soul?
I felt that way this week. Which is why I was so thankful and joyful to read Zacharias’ final words at the end of Luke 1:79. Jesus brings knowledge, light, and finally, peace.
C. Peace (Luke 1:79b)
Luke 1:79b. To guide our feet into the way of peace.
That’s what we all want. Peace. We don’t want the way of worry and war. We don’t want the way of anxiety and fear. We don’t want the way of rebellion and restlessness. We want the way of peace. Peace. The heart that is at peace is full of joy and contentment. It is at peace with God and peace with one another. It does not worry or fret. It is not depressed or gloomy. The life of peace is the life of light and joy. Doesn’t that sound nice? But how do we get it? How do we arrive at this way of peace? How do we find it?
Guess what? We don’t find it. Jesus leads us to it. This is what these last words tell us. Jesus has come to guide our feet into the way of peace. You don’t find peace on your own. You don’t get to peace on your own. You don’t cheer yourself up with movies and music, eating and entertainment, or even with relatives and recreation. How do you get to peace? You follow Jesus. You let him guide you. He knows the way. He is not going to force peace upon you. He will not make you be at peace. But if you want to follow him there, He will gladly lead.
How do you let him lead? We’ll be talking about this a lot more next Sunday, but let me just tell you now. You let Jesus lead by giving a portion of every single day to read the Bible and pray. Before you read the Word, pray, saying, “Jesus, show me something today from your Word. Give me a promise. Give me a truth. Give me an encouraging Word. Give me a correction if need be. I just want to hear from you today. I want to be guided into the way of peace.”
And then read the Scriptures, trying to understand what they say, and looking for a verse which God has especially for you. When you find it, pray it. Pray that verse, pray that passage, pray that promise. Pray it for yourself. Pray it for your family. Pray it for this church. Jesus came to this earth to fulfill the promises of God, to bring salvation, to reveal the tender mercy of God, and break forth as light into the darkness and guide our way into the way of peace. You’ll miss it all, if you neglect the Word.
Zacharias could have never said another word in his life except for this song, and it would have been some of the best words every spoken. They are full of tender truths and precious promises about Jesus Christ. Though he had been mute for nine months, he probably spent that time thinking of what he would say if he could ever speak again. And here he said it. It’s all to the praise and honor and glory of Jesus Christ.
 Aurlette Driver, Christian Reader (November/December 2003) p. 11
 Catherine Anderson, Christian Reader, “Kids of the Kingdom.”
 Biblical Illustrator, 86.
 Biblical Illustrator, 89.
 Biblical Illustrator, 91.
 Biblical Illustrator, 88.
 Biblical Illustrator, 88.
 Newell, Romans on Romans 11:25. Cf.also, Moo, Romans, NICNT, 719.
 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, 300.
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