Zechariah’s Song Benedictus (Blessing)
Imagine, you just had your first child.
Women: you just survived 14 hours of hard labor, you’re cradling your precious newborn infant, you and your husband have been trying for years to have a child and now, finally, you hold a miracle in your arms.
Men: you come racing into the room to see this precious sight, and you … start singing the praises of another baby about to be born!
Just about inconceivable, isn’t it. Just as John is to be a prophet of the Most High, pointing to Jesus, Zechariah in his song highlights Jesus.
The Big Picture
Zechariah begins with Jesus because he sees the universal implications of the birth of Christ. He sees how the coming of Messiah will change everything. He is a horn, representing strength. He is the One fulfilling the prophecies of long ago. He is the One who brings redemption and forgiveness of sins.
And as Zechariah turns to his own son in v.76, “and you, my child … ” Zechariah recognizes the part his family plays in this larger picture. That his son, will prepare the way for the Messiah. John will proclaim salvation, but Jesus will take them to it.
1. Point the way by knowing who you are not
John knew he was not the One to come, the Messiah. He only pointed the way to the Messiah, the Savior.
15The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. 16John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
The people were looking for a Messiah. They wanted John to be the Messiah. But John knew who he was not.
The theme of humility arises again. There were no sewage systems in this day and age. Human/animal waste was in the streets, and so the sandals were the most disgusting piece of clothing. They were so extremely so that even someone’s servant was not expected to touch his master’s sandals. But John lowers himself so that he’s not even worthy to touch the sandals of the Messiah. No wonder John didn’t want to baptize Jesus in the water.
John is only the messenger.
"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty.
Malachi means “my messenger.”
2. Point the way to salvation in Christ
Zechariah’s Hymn states:
you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins
The picture is of a world cloaked in darkness and death, desperate for someone to lead it into light and life. For Zechariah, this rescue is Messiah’s mission. Christ brings forgiveness.
“Those who are righteous know that the only true journey in life is the one taken in the hands of God.” (IVP Commentary)
3. Point the way by living out the faith in a practical way.
But what is the goal of this salvation? Here is perhaps the most insightful part of the hymn. Zechariah’s desire is "to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days."
John’s word as he preaches the message of salvation is:
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Luke 3.8)
And the people ask:
“What should we do then?”(Luke 3.10)
10“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”
-Give with a radical generosity.
12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely–be content with your pay.”
-Be scrupulously honest
Where you live your life, in your workplace, in your home, with your family and friends, live your live as one who knows Christ.
Just out of college, working as a server at Pizza Hut, the manager called me aside one day and asked me why my tips were so much more than everyone else’s. It wasn’t that I was a better server than everyone else. It was that I was more honest than everyone else. We only got paid $2.10 per hour and we had to report our tips so that we were making minimum wage and then our tips were reported to the IRS. The lower your tips, the lower your income tax! This is living honestly. And people will notice.
We, like John, are called to be messengers, pointing the way to Jesus. We are not called to live a life separate from the world, but we are called to live differently in the world. We are called to point the way to Jesus through our words and our actions.
As the coming of Christ is proclaimed today, we must ask the question that was asked of John, “What should we do?” The answer to that will differ from person to person. But I challenge you to go to God with the question, “What should I do?”