Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah's Song

Sermon / Homily on Luke 1:57-80

A Time For Praise - Reflection on Luke 1:57-80

Background:

Luke 1:57-80

(v.57-63) Verse 58 seems to indicate that Elizabeth continued to keep her pregnancy quite. (v.59) On the eight day they came to circumcise the child according to Jewish Law, (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3). Traditionally, Jewish children were named at birth; the naming of Elizabeth's baby at the time of circumcision is "late." Some speculate the reason for this was the Greco-Roman influence on Palestinian Jewish custom. Roman infants were named eight to nine days after birth.

Elizabeth's neighbors and relatives objected to naming the child "John". According to Jewish culture children were often named for the grandfather or father. It was the father, rather than the mother, who had ultimate say in naming the child, (v.61, 62). When Zacharias had written down the name by which the child should be called, they "marveled." Elizabeth and Zacharias, out of appreciation for what the Lord had done for them, were emphatic about obeying God's command; (v.13b) "…you shall call his name John."

(v.64-66) "Immediately" Zacharias's mouth was opened! After nine months his tongue was loosed and "praise" flowed forth unto God! This praise had been pinned up in him for months, because of his unbelief, (v.20) "…you will be mute…until the day these things take place…" Notice: his "voice" did not return to him the "moment" the child was born, but eight days later; because the fulfillment of "these things" also included the "naming" of the child. Only after every word of God was fulfilled did Zacharias get his voice back!

There are two lessons here:

(1) God's word must be obeyed fully. Half way obedience will "mute" your faith. It's only after we have "fulfilled" our obedience that we truly have something to say. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6) For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

(2) Secondly, In silence God perfects praise. There are times when God will shut our mouths. We want to defend ourselves, justify our behavior, but God says: "Be quiet, be still, while I perfect your praise, that I and not you, might be glorified." (Psalm 4:3-5) But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The LORD will hear when I call to Him. Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD. (preacher "spontaneous" message).

(v.67-75) Notice also: The "praise" which Zacharias first offers has nothing to do with "his" son, but everything to do with the "Son" of God! He is under the "influence" of the Holy Spirit, (v.67b). When we are in the "Spirit" our priorities are aligned with the priorities of God! "Praise" for having a son born to him and his wife after years of being barren is "glorious," but far more "glorious" is the fulfilled promise of a "Savior." Because we can have a wonderful family, but without a "Savior" we are still "lost" in our sin! Zacharias offers his "highest praise" to the horn of our salvation, (v.69a). The horn of an animal engaged in contest with another animal is a tremendous advantage. Thus, the word "horn" in Hebrew culture implies "strength."

The "Horn of salvation" speaks of our "rock," the promised Messiah, (Savior); who is our "deliverer." (Psalm 62:7) In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. This was foretold by the prophet's since the world began (v.70b); even before the time of Abraham, with whom God swore an "oath" (Genesis 12:3) "I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Indeed the "families of the earth are blessed because through David, (v.69b), who was a descendant of Abraham, God delivered to the world, a Savior! For three reasons:

1. Christ came to save. (v.71) Two-fold meaning here; First: Speaks of God's promise to preserve Israel. Turn to: Romans 11:25-28. Secondly: Speaks of, Our deliverance from sin. Turn to: Romans 10:8-13.

2. Christ came to perform mercy. (v.72, 73) On the basis of Christ "performance" we have found "mercy" in the sight of God. (Rex – Bronco left tackle; Tony Jones; Western Carolina Univ.); He didn't play in the game, but he knew his name; and on the basis Tony's performance; the guard let him in. Christ performance; His life of righteousness, His death on the cross, His resurrection, has afforded us "mercy," although we deserve "judgment!" (Titus 3:4-7) But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

3. Christ came to eliminate fear. (v.74, 75) This is "fear" in the "negative" sense; the Greek word for "without fear" is aphobos (af-ob'- oce); the Greek word for "fear" is phobos; where we get the word "phobia" fear of something or a situation.

In our "politically correct" society Christians are often accused of being "homo-phobic," but in fact it is mankind who is "God-o-phobic." But God sent His Son that we might not live in "fear" any longer. The Greek word for "serve" here, (v.74b), can also be translated minister or worship - in holiness and righteousness; that is the holiness and righteousness of Christ; (2 Corinthians 5:21) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (1 John 4:18, 19)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. (v.76-80) Zacharias turns his attention to his new born son; (v.76), prophesied, Isaiah 40:3.

The summary of John's ministry, (v.77, 78), also reveals the ministry of the church, (v.77, 78). (2 Corinthians 2:14) Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. It is our calling to make "Him" known. To inform those who "sit," who live in "darkness" that God, in His "tender mercy," has provided "remission" forgiveness, for our sins; through faith in Christ, the "Dayspring," the "Dawn" of hope! that way to everlasting peace!

CONCLUSION:

God sent His Son, not to condemn, but to "save," to grant us "mercy," and to "eliminate fear." The Savior has come; but the question is; "Will we come to the Savior?" Obedient faith, in God's word, perfects our "praise." Don't let unbelief silence your voice! (Psalm 107:1, 2) "Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy."

Source: www.mydwellingplace.org

See Also:

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the Sunday of the Birth of John the Baptist

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