24 December 2016

Luke 1:67-80

“to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (v 79)

Psalm: Psalm 13


Yesterday we noted the pattern of promise-fulfillment-response in this chapter and saw how, as Zechariah was obedient in trusting God, he was enabled to speak and his first words were the response of praise. Today's passage fills out more fully that hymn of praise. The Christmas season is full of angelic song. Zechariah's song acts as a prelude to that heavenly chorus, and gives us space to reflect on what the stories of the birth of these special children really mean.

As you read through this passage you may note that the song divides into two parts. Verses 68 to 75 focus on praise for God's promises and actions for people. This theme of blessing gives the song its common name 'Benedictus'. God is to be praised for not staying aloof from people. Rather God has come to them as Saviour, in the line of David.

We see here again that God keeps the promises that lead right back tothe covenant with Abraham. That covenant promised that through Abraham all the families on the earth would be blessed (Genesis 22:16-18). Luke's Gospel and the Book of Acts will show how the good news of God's gracious faithfulness will spread.

Verses 76 to 79 form the second part, which turns to Zechariah's celebration of his own son's role in God's plan. As previously in this chapter he understands that John's role is to prepare for and then give way to Jesus, but his role in God's breaking dawn is cause for celebration.

To Ponder

  • Take time to reflect on some of the words Zechariah uses to describe his son's future ministry under God … "salvation", "forgiveness", "mercy", "dawn", "peace". Let these be your watchwords as you prepare for Christmas Day.
  • This chapter has told of Zechariah and Elizabeth's shame and sadness at being childless, Zechariah's questioning and consequent silence and Mary's pregnancy which could be easily misunderstood. How true, and how helpful, are the words of Leonard Cohen "There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in"?

Bible notes author

The Revd Donald Ker

Donald Ker is a supernumerary minister in the Methodist Church in Ireland. As well as serving as a circuit minister in Bray Co Wicklow and as Superintendent Minister at Belfast Central Mission, he has been General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland and its President in 2009/2010.