We’ve been talking about Luke’s Christmas Songs. During the last two
weeks, we looked at Mary’s Song. Today, we’ll take a look at
It all begins …
I love the way Luke begins his gospel. After a brief introduction, he writes, “It all begins with a Jewish priest, Zechariah …”
Zechariah & Elizabeth …
- from the priestly line of Aaron.
- righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations.
- no children because Elizabeth was barren, and now they were both very old
- poor – as all common/ordinary priests of that time were
Zechariah’s Trip to the Temple …
Zechariah was a member of the priestly order of Abijah. There were
twenty-four divisions of priests. Twice a year, each division had a
week’s worth of service at the temple. In that week, they would draw
from the division one person to go in and light the incense to keep it
burning in the most holy place.
While Zachariah was performing his duty in the temple, he encountered
an angel, which freaked him out! The angel said, “Don’t be afraid,
Zechariah! For God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth,
will bear you a son! And you are to name him John” (Luke 1.13).
The angel described John, saying, “he will be great in the eyes of the
Lord … he will persuade many Israelites to turn to the Lord their God.
He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of
old. He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for
his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,
and he will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom.”
But Zechariah didn’t get it. He said, “How can I know this will happen?
I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”
The angel, Gabriel, responded, saying, “since you didn’t believe what I
said, you won’t be able to speak until the child is born. For my words
will certainly come true at the proper time.”
Zechariah completed his duty, then went home. A while later, Elizabeth
became pregnant, just as the angel promised. Elizabeth exclaimed, “How
kind the Lord is! He has taken away my disgrace of having no children!”
The Birth of John the Baptist …
Zechariah and Elizabeth’s baby was born – a boy. When it came time to
name him, everyone was surprised to learn that Elizabeth wanted to name
him John – no one in their family had that name! But Zechariah, who
still wasn’t able to speak, wrote, “His name is John” (Luke
1.63). At that moment, Zechariah regained his ability to speak, and he
began to praise God.
Scripture is clear about Jesus’ purpose in coming …
- “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3.8)
- “Christ has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9.26)
- “Christ took on a human nature that through death he might
destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver
all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.”
Most of Zechariah’s Song is about what God is doing through the
Messiah, but there are a couple verses about John: “And you, my little
son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will
prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find
salvation through forgiveness of their sins.”
“John grew up and became strong in spirit. Then he lived out in the
wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.” (Luke 1.80)
“6God sent John the Baptist 7to tell everyone about the light so that
everyone might believe because of his testimony. … 15John pointed him
out to the people. He shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was
talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming who is far greater than I
am, for he existed long before I did.’” (John 1.6–7; 15)
God has a plan for your life …
God had a plan for John’s life for him before he was born. And like so
many others in Scripture, I believe God also has a plan for each of our
lives. I believe that our purpose is similar to John’s – to be a voice!
God is looking for voices …
People who know who they are not
One day, the religious leaders went out to John, to ask him who he was. I love his response: “I am not the Messiah!”
John knew, “It’s not about me!” he was humble; he had no delusions about who he was; he didn’t have a “Messiah complex.”
Steve Rushing’s comments, in Sports Illustrated, to athlete’s with big egos …
“It may help to remember that you are a human being. And as uniquely
gifted as you are, there are over six billion other uniquely gifted
humans on earth. Add to this the fact that the earth is only one of
nine planets orbiting the sun, and the sun is only one of several
billion stars in the Milky Way, and remember that the Milky Way is only
one of thirty galaxies in its local galaxy cluster, and this cluster is
only one of the many inconceivably vast vergo super clusters, and that
the inconceivably vast vergo super cluster is scarcely anything at all,
just an infinitesimal duct mite in an ever expanding universe.”
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3.30)
People who know who they are
“I am a voice crying out in the wilderness.”
Prophet = to speak for
“But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within
us—is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies.” (2
People who know the Messiah
In order to be a voice for God (witness), we must first know God!
“… the sheep hear his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10.3b)
In Philippians 3, Paul is writing about his passion to know Christ:
“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the
fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, if, by any
means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (3.10–11).
But this kind of knowing is not simply an intellectual knowing – i.e.
having head knowledge about Christ. It is an experiential knowing, an
intimate, passionate kind of knowledge!
People full-on for God
“I am a voice crying out in the wilderness!” This speaks to passion, devotion, and commitment.
People who are full-on for God are …
- Fully devoted/submitted to God
- Focused on God and his purpose for their lives
- Their sole desire is to bring honor to Christ in their lives!
- They are people who “cry out in the wilderness” – are passionate people, passionate about God!
“Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” (John Wesley)
“I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.” (John Wesley)
“Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.” (Psalm 73.25)
People who are willing to go first
This speaks to courage and initiative!
Abraham, mentioned by both Mary and Zechariah in their songs, is a great example of someone willing to go first!
People who point others to the Messiah
John pointed people to the Messiah!
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is
the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me
because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I
came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Pointing others to Christ is what we are all about! “I am just one beggar telling other beggars where to find bread.”
Invitation is a good word. John invited people to know God through his
preaching and by responding to God’s Word through baptism. We, too, can
point people to Christ, and invite them to follow in the way of Christ!
Travel Agent vs. Tour Guide
Travel agents points others to great places to go, but they haven’t
necessarily been there themselves. But tour guides, OTOH, take people
on a journey with them. That’s what God is looking for – tour guides.
People who are on the journey, people who have some experience with
God, people who use their voice (life) to point others to Christ and
show them the way!
We are God’s symphony!
Our voice are all unique – loud/soft, high/low, but all are necessary.
And when they come together and harmonize, amazing things happen!
The movie, “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” tells the story of a musician who
struggles to find success in life. Mr. Holland dreamed of composing a
magnificent symphony that will be played by orchestras across the
world. But for various reasons, it never happened. On his final day as
a teacher he packs up his desk, and heads for his car. On the way he
hears music coming from the auditorium. Intrigued he goes to see what’s
happening. He opens the door to find the auditorium filled with his
students from the past 30 years. They’re playing a piece of music he
wrote. It’s a concert in his honor. One of Mr. Holland’s former
students, now Governor, delivers a speech:
“Mr. Holland had a profound influence in my own life, yet I get the
feeling that he considers the greater part of his own life misspent.
Rumor had it that he was always working on that symphony of his, and
this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland
isn’t rich, and he isn’t famous, at least not outside of our own little
town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. And he
would be wrong. Because I think he has achieved a success far beyond
riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that
you have not touched. And each one of us is a better person because of
you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the
notes of your opus. And we are the music of your life.”
We are God’s symphony!