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More Excitement for Christ

The Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Continue through the series of Luke's Gospel and examining primarily the prophecy of Zechariah

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Last week we looked at how excited Mary and Elizabeth were and the mutual sharing of pregnancies.
But one thing specifically that I thought was very important is how much focus there was, not on each other’s mutual pregnancies.
There wasn’t even as much of a focus on the fact that Mary was pregnant.
The focus was on the arrival of Jesus.
Our context this evening does include some shifting focus from the arrival of Jesus to the rejoicing of Elizabeth giving birth.
Tonight we’re continuing the main theme of being excited over Christ and focus on Him.
And the goal of going through the Gospel of Luke is to accumulate all sorts of reasons to be excited about Christ, focused on Christ, and Christ centered.
So tonight, the Excitement of Christ continues.

The Priority of Names

So again, here’s an interesting shift in the narrative. When it was just Elizabeth and Mary there wasn’t much rejoicing over the fact of pregnancy.
There was a ton of rejoicing over salvation. The rejoicing was a rejoicing of the coming of Jesus to save them from their sins.
Those were the proper responses to Christ, if you remember from last week.
Now the shift in the Narrative is that when Elizabeth gives birth there is much rejoicing at what seems to be simply the birth of a new baby.
And I think everyone would’ve had to have known that this was a miraculous thing.
It’s not clear from the text that everyone would’ve known that Elizabeth and Zechariah were going to name the baby John.
So either they knew about it and disregarded it or they didn’t know about and still went with the traditional way of naming a baby.
And the traditional way was to name the baby after a relative name, and this passage to name John after Zechariah.
And everyone who is present is intent on doing that. And in fact so intent that they don’t listen to Elizabeth.
They go to Zechariah. Who didn’t have enough faith in what Gabriel had announced to him.
And now Zechariah has learned his lesson and is able to speak and goes with John.
Now what’s significant about that? Like that’s an interesting piece of history to learn about, but why put that in a passage where your trying to tell Theophilus an orderly account of what happened?
You’re trying to tell Gentile Theophilus what happened at the naming of John the Baptist. And you point out this little dispute about what they were going to name John.
What’s the point?
Well, if you notice the traditional way of naming was leading them to name John, Zechariah.
John doesn’t exist because of any other reason than that God called him to exist.
Because God called him to exist, God named him. And to show that John belonged to God, ultimately, God didn’t name him according to his family line.
Plus this Greek name doesn’t translate a single name in the entire Old Testament.
It is a Jewish name still. יְהוֹחָנָן which literally means, “Yahweh has been gracious”.
You won’t name Zechariah. You will name him a name that has a constant reminder of the goodness of God to graciously be involved in our lives.
Which is fascinating because it shows that John’s appointment to being the forerunner of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born,
Wasn’t because he was a Jew, from such a strong priestly lineage but that he was going to be all those things because God granted him grace and called him.
It was nothing more than the free choice of God that John was who he was.
And that’s exactly how we become Christians.
And fear came on all their neighbors. Where’d the rejoicing go? The recognition that you could break from tradition now
And experience a sort of newness of life, caused the people to wonder at what type of Child John the Baptist would be.

The Promise of Salvation

So Zechariah has been restored and after he pronounces that John’s name is John, he prophecies.
No big deal. A guy who we’ve never seen prophecies, prophecies.
He speaks new revelation into existence. And in fact, now, he’s filled with the Holy Spirit.
That was a huge issue from last week that we saw was so essential to proper responses to Christ.
And that’s a concept that continues through in the New Testament, it’s a huge concept in Paul’s letters.
And Paul taught us that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit, unless we are caught in sin.
Now notice the peculiar things that Zechariah prophecies about:
He says that God is to be praised, that’s this definition of “Blessed” for
1). He has already visited and redeemed his people.
But it hasn’t hasn’t happened yet. Jesus hasn’t even been born yet. It’s just John who has been born.
How is it that the Lord has visited and redeemed his people?
It’s interesting too, because is very intentional about using a phrase that appears in the LXX
He uses κύριος ὁ θεὸς, which translates the Hebrew Yahweh Elohim.
It’s also interesting that the word visited isn’t a normal word for just visiting.
κύριος ὁ θεὸς
It’s a word that is the verb form of the word Episcopal. Which is a word that is used interchangeably in the new testament for Bishop, Pastor, Elder.
A Bishop was like a general too, where he would show up and prepare his army and make sure they were doing well.
So that makes sense, in a way, that the Lord has Pastored his people.
But then it says that the Lord redeemed his people. Literally, “Made redemption”.
But again how is it that the Lord could have already at this time, secured our redemption?
It’s just where all the aspects of our salvation are put in the past tense.
How is it? Especially if we haven’t been thoroughly redeemed?
Well this is a prophecy. So it’s put in the past tense to show that it is so sure that the Lord is going to do this, that’s its as if it has already been accomplished.
Which also is important because it means that even at this time and previously, all of God’s people have had redemption the same way.
Through Jesus Christ.
If you don’t believe in a perfect, accomplished salvation, that makes me very sad of whatever it is then that you believe in.
The Bible reveals a perfect, accomplished salvation so accomplished that it can be talked about as already having been accomplished,
Before Jesus Christ was even born.
Now we go through the rest of this and we see that God remembers his covenant and the oath that he swore to Abraham.
Which might not seem like good news for Gentiles right away.
Except that the promise given to Abraham was nations to be blessed.
And God swore the oath. Which means he promised and guaranteed to effect your salvation.
Which is exactly why the previous portion of visiting and redeeming his people was put in the tense that it was.

The Preparation of John the Baptist

Verse 76 switches over to John the Baptist. And John the Baptist will be called prophet of the Most High.
Because he go before the Lord to Prepare his ways.
To give knowledge of salvation to his people and forgiveness of theirs sins.
And here’s what’s really good, because of the the tender mercy of our God.
So John’s way of preparing people is to give the knowledge of salvation to God’s people.
And to give the reason for salvation.
It’s because of the tender mercy of God.
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