Lake Wisconsin Evangelical Free Church

February 11, 2024

Luke 1:67-80


All the Gospels just want us to remember and think about this. It boils down to two questions in every passage that we read. Do you believe, and will you follow? Luke had 35 years of eyewitness testimony that went back before Jesus was even born about what happened to bring about the miraculous birth of our Lord and Savior, and every miracle that he shares, every preaching that he shares, every prayer, we have to ask these questions. Do I believe what is presented here, and will I choose to follow Jesus?

Luke chapter 5:11, we read this verse, then they brought the boats to land, left everything and followed him, and it’s referring back to when the disciples were asked to cast their nets on the other side when they hadn’t been able to catch any fish all night long. They obeyed the word of the Lord, and they had such a great catch, another boat had to come and help them, it was miraculous. Did they believe?

Yes, they did what the Lord said, and as soon as they did that, they chose to follow him. In Romans 10:9, this is basically what we’re always asking people to do in response to the Gospel, to confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord. That’s basically meaning to follow him, because confessing him Lord just with your mouth, that doesn’t mean as much as actually living your life in such a way that shows, by example, you’re following him.

So as we read through all of Luke, just keep that in mind, Sunday after Sunday, or as you read at home, do I believe what’s written here, and do I choose to follow Jesus? Let’s read from the passage now, Luke 1, verses 67 through 80.

67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68 Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited
and provided redemption for his people.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 just as he spoke by the mouth
of his holy prophets in ancient times;
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of those who hate us.
72 He has dealt mercifully with our ancestors
and remembered his holy covenant—
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham,
to grant that we,
74 having been rescued
from the hand of our enemies,
would serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness
in his presence all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called
a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord
to prepare his ways,
77 to give his people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of our God’s merciful compassion,
the dawn from on high will visit us
79 to shine on those who live in darkness
and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

80 The child grew up and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

May we pray.

Heavenly Father, as we look at the passage today, help us to see the truth of what Jesus Christ has done for us, how the Father sent him to be a sacrifice for our sins, and let us respond in such a way, Father, that we desire to not only believe but to serve you by confessing you vocally and also confessing our allegiance to you through the way that we live according to your word. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

As last week, we’re going to be looking again at the involvement of the Trinity, because the Trinity is all involved in this process of presenting what salvation is going to mean through Jesus Christ. We see the Holy Spirit in verse 6 and 7, we see the Father, the Lord God of Israel, our God in verses 68 and 78, and then we find the Son, who is the Most High, the Lord. He is the dawn or the sunrise, in other words, the light that shines in the darkness. We see all of them involved here, so let’s break it up a little bit. First we’ll start with the Holy Spirit.

We see him doing what he does in verse 67. His father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he prophesied. Holy Spirit shares all the attributes of God, as we looked at a couple weeks ago, but in his person he has very specific things that he does. He fills believers. He exalts the Father and the Son, and he also explains the Father and the Son. Here we have him filling Zechariah, and as he fills Zechariah, then Zechariah is able to give praise to the Father and the Son for what they are doing.

But the Holy Spirit also helps us to understand what God’s Word says. He continually explains in our heart what it is that the Father is like, what he does, and what he does for us, and likewise he does the same for the Son. Just a quick overview of what the Holy Spirit does. We’re going to spend more time on what the Father does. What is his involvement in the passage today and in the plan of salvation, because he’s the one that is emphasized here most. We go to verse 68, and we read, Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and provided redemption for his people.

It’s the Lord God, the Father who has provided redemption for his people. It tells us first that he has visited, secondly that he’s provided, and both of those are in the past tense. We can say, well, Jesus hasn’t even arrived on the scene yet. Jesus hasn’t died on the cross, he hasn’t risen from the dead. But in the language here, when we have something in the past tense, what God is saying is, it’s already settled, it’s done, we don’t even have to wait for it to happen, because my word is certain. It will be brought about.

We also find here in visited that God wants a personal relationship with us, and we talked last week how they recognize that his name is Jehovah, his name is Yahweh, that was giving the people of Israel and giving to us his personal name. He wants to be on a first name relationship with us, just as Kelly Jo mentioned today. He didn’t send emissaries, he didn’t send angels, he came to dwell among us, and the whole picture of that is in the tabernacle in the Old Testament, where he actually traveled with the people, and he, in essence, lived in a tent as they did. He lowered himself to where they were, because he wanted to be a personal God to them.

He visited his people as he visits with us today, and he also provided redemption. What does that word redemption mean? Well, first thing is, it’s a passive noun, it means that you can’t do anything for yourself to be redeemed. It has to come from an outside source. The words redeemed and salvation are a little different, they’re synonyms, but when we talk about someone having redemption, we’re talking about to release on receipt of a ransom. Three R words, release, to set free, upon receipt, something is given as a ransom for another person.

So what we’re talking about is someone who has been abducted, or someone who has been kidnapped, and people say, you know, if you will pay the ransom, then we will free this person. Obviously, that person that’s kidnapped, they can’t pay their own ransom, because they’re trapped. That ransom has to come from outside, it has to come from someone who has the means to do that. So it is that God provides redemption for us, because we, in essence, we’re captives, we’re enslaved to sin and to Satan, but God steps in and he provides the ransom for us so that we can be set free. To be redeemed is something that we cannot do by our own means. It has to be by the means of another person, and that person is Jesus Christ.

The person redeemed is completely passive, they’re completely uninvolved in the transaction. We weren’t even present there physically at the cross when the transaction was made, but God did that for us. We have a whole book in the Bible, the book of Ruth in the Old Testament, it’s short, but it talks about this Kinsman Redeemer that offers a redemption, and the story is about Ruth, her husband has died, her brother-in-law has died, her father-in-law has died, and she comes back to Israel to take care of her widowed mother-in-law, but she needs help, they’re poor, she can’t provide for them, and so the story goes on that Boaz becomes her Kinsman Redeemer, he is able to do for her what she cannot do for herself, and the two most important things are that he has to be able to do that, he has to have the means to provide for her, but also he has to be willing, and so it is with Jesus Christ that he is able to redeem us, he has what it takes, and he also loves us, and he’s willing to do that for us. How is it that Jesus redeemed us? What was the price that only he could pay? Let’s go to Hebrews chapter 9, verses 11 through 14, where we find that Jesus paid the redemption or the ransom price for us, and we had nothing at all to do with it.

Let’s read the text. The Christ has appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come. So it starts out by saying that Jesus is a high priest, he’s the Lord God Almighty, he’s our Savior, but he also is our high priest, and this is referring back to the Old Testament, where there was a priest who presented offerings for the people to the Lord.

They didn’t come and present the blood to the Lord themselves, they brought the animals, but the high priest took the blood, and once a year he would go into the Holy of Holies, and he would present the blood there, but he did that year after year after year. But now Jesus Christ is coming of the good things now that have come, and it tells us now in the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, Jesus Christ himself came to offer a sacrifice for us that is more perfect, that is more better than anything that happened in the Old Testament. Because where he goes to present his blood is not of this creation, it’s in another world, it’s in heaven. It tells us that he entered the most holy place once for all times, he didn’t have to sacrifice himself over and over. He went into the very presence of God the Father, and it wasn’t by the blood of goats and calves, he didn’t take blood from the animals to them, but what he took and the price he paid, it was by his very own blood. So having obtained our eternal redemption, the blood of Christ, through the eternal spirit, he offered himself without blemish to God, to cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God.

What are the dead works that it’s talking about here? Well, the dead works are things that people do to try to earn their salvation, and they’re dead, they can’t accomplish anything. Some people say, well, I was baptized, that is a work, it’s something that you had done to yourself, or your parents had done to you, and that is a dead work, that does not save you. Some people think that, oh, I do enough good in this world, so in the end, I’m going to be accepted to heaven, or I attend church enough, I have the right language, I do the right things, I hang around the right people, but all of those things are dead works, because the only work that brings salvation is the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross by offering his life up for us, that he could present his blood before God the Father. Someone had to present a blood sacrifice to the Father in heaven that was completely separate from us. We can’t be involved in it.

But even the very thought of doing that sacrifice for ourself is just impossible. We would have had to have been perfect, but because we’re imperfect, we can’t offer a perfect sacrifice, much less do we have any way to get to heaven that we could take our blood there ourselves. The sacrificial system in the Old Testament was completely insufficient to save anyone, but it kept pointing to, this needs to happen someday, and the Savior is coming, and he will do that once for all. Redemption again has to come from us, not from us, but from someone else, someone who is our kinsman redeemer, as we read of in the book of Ruth. Our dead works are just sin, and our attempts to save ourselves are only going to result in eternal separation from God the Father, and actually to try to save yourself by any means is saying, I’m going to do this, and I’m denying what Christ did for me on the cross. If you think you can save yourself, you’re rejecting him completely for what he’s done, because you’re not believing what the Word says about the Son and giving his life for us.

God provided redemption for us, and Zechariah is prophesying this is what is finally coming at this time. Let’s look now at verse 69. Another thing that the Father does here is he raised up a horn of salvation, that horn being Jesus Christ.

In verse 69 we read, he has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. Just as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets in ancient times, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of those who hate us. The horn here, it’s literally picturing the horn of a bull, it’s showing the bull’s power and strength, his ability to destroy and to kill because of his great power, but figuratively it’s talking about a leader, or a king, or even a kingdom or a nation that rises up with this great power, therefore it refers to Jesus Christ.

He is the source and the power of the salvation that God is providing for us. In verse 71 there it says that he is going to provide for us again salvation from our enemies and from the hand of those who hate us. Luke in all of his writings, more than any of the other Gospel writers, presents Jesus Christ as our Savior.

He talks more about salvation and the need to be saved and how to be saved than any other Gospel writer. The word Savior appears four times in Luke and Acts, but in the other Gospels it only comes up one time. The word salvation comes up 10 times in Luke and Acts, but only one time in the other Gospels. The idea of to save, that phrase, 17 times in Luke, 13 times in Acts, more than any of the other Gospels, Luke of all of them is presenting Jesus Christ to us as Savior, as a means of salvation from our enemies and from those who hate us. What does it mean to be saved? It means a Savior or a deliverer, it means deliverance, it means safety, it means preservation from danger and destruction.

So salvation isn’t just past, Jesus Christ wasn’t just our Savior in the past, but according to the definition, he continues to save us today. He’s going to keep us safe, that means that in the future days he’s going to be our deliverer, but he also is providing it eternally because he preserves us forever from danger and from destruction. Now when he came at this time to earth, people were looking for a political Savior, they wanted someone to get rid of Rome. Jesus didn’t come the first time to do that, he came to provide something more important for us, he came to provide deliverance and salvation for our eternal life, for our spirit. But praise the Lord when he comes again for his second coming, he will bring political, national and worldwide deliverance and salvation to everyone. Jesus is our Savior, he’s our deliverer, he gives us deliverance, he provides safety, he preserves us from danger and destruction.

But in the text there, it tells us that he’s also saving us from our enemies. Who are our enemies? Our first enemy is God himself.

Because of our sin we are at odds with him, our second enemy that Jesus delivers us from is Satan, and finally the enemy of death and this world, the followers of Satan, all those that are against the Lord, Jesus will deliver them from us. We go to Romans 8, 7 through 8, where we understand how we are at enmity with God, that he is our enemy until we come to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The mindset of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. This is a person who does not have a spirit that has been given life in him by Jesus Christ, he’s living in the flesh according to the world. This person doesn’t submit to God’s law, this person submits to their own law, or they submit to the law of Satan. And in that case, before someone comes to know the Lord, they’re hostile to God.

God is their enemy. Indeed, it tells us that it’s even unable to do so. Someone in this state that has not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, even if they want to follow God’s law, are unable to do that because those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Salvation, therefore, it makes our spirit alive so that we can live according now to the spirit, not living according to the flesh. We were dead in our sins, but when Jesus Christ washes those away from us, we become alive so that we can serve the Lord and he’s no longer at enmity with us. Let me just read verses 5 and 6 before that.

For those who live according to the flesh had their minds set on the things of the flesh. But this is where a believer is. But those who live according to the spirit had their minds set on the things of the spirit. Now the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the spirit is life and peace. And so it is when Jesus delivers us from our enemies, we are no longer under the penalty of death, but we can now have a life of peace. How else is the Father involved here?

Let’s look in verse 70. We find here that he fulfills his promises. Just as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets in ancient times and remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham.

God has made promises over and over in his word and God’s promises always will come true. His promises include a number of prophecies about what the Savior would be like when he came. Conservatively, one author, J. Burton Payne, he finds 574 Old Testament verses that point to Jesus Christ. Alfred Edersheim, another author, he lists 456. It kind of depends on how literally you take the prophecies or if you think they’re just vaguely pointing to the Christ.

But they’re in agreement of all these prophecies, Jesus fulfilled at least 300 during his earthly ministry. And you might say, well, what about the other 274 or 156? Those are still to come. But the fact that Jesus fulfilled over 300 while he was here in this world shows us that he was the coming Messiah. But it also shows us if he was able to fulfill those prophecies, he still will be able to fulfill the rest of them in the future. And many of the prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus’ enemies.

And they certainly, if they had realized it, would not have wanted to fulfill those prophecies in order to prove that he was the Christ. And many of the prophecies were fulfilled by things that Jesus, as an infant, as a baby, as a child, he was not able to fulfill himself, such as where he was born in Bethlehem and the fact that he would live in Egypt for a while and then he would come from Nazareth. All those things were fulfilled by others, but they point to Jesus Christ saying that God truly fulfills all of his prophecies and he will continue to fulfill them in the future.

God fulfills his promises because he says he will and because he can. He’s not like the parent that says, yeah, I promise you that I’ll take you for ice cream this afternoon, and then all of a sudden there’s an emergency or the car doesn’t work and you have to tell your child, I’m sorry, I made a promise, but I can’t fulfill it. God never does that. There’s nothing that can keep him from fulfilling his promises. There are no surprises. He will always fulfill them.

Second Corinthians 1.20 states this, for every one, not most, but every one of God’s promises is yes. His promises are never yes or no or maybe, it’s always yes, I’m going to fulfill them. Therefore, through him, we can always say amen or so be it to the glory of God. We believe what he says is going to come true. So now, verse 78, you see again that God shows mercy and we talked about mercy last week. It means to withhold what we really deserve.

We really deserve punishment for our sin, but God withholds that. Just think if he struck everybody dead every time they sinned, there would be no life left on this earth. But God has his merciful compassion. He tells us that the dawn from on high will visit us. He has withheld his wrath and his punishment on mankind because he’s looking forward to when the dawn is going to visit us, and that dawn is the light of the world. It’s Jesus Christ coming, and in the Old Testament with the Jewish people, over and over, they failed him.

They turned to idols, but he was always withholding his complete judgment on them so that things can move forward. He was looking forward to the redemption of as many people as possible that would turn in faith to Jesus Christ. The Father shows mercy. Going to verse 74, we’re also going to find here that the Father rescued his people. We having been rescued from the hand of our enemies, and again, it’s in the past tense. We haven’t been completely rescued yet, but it is settled in God’s mind that he is going to completely achieve that one day, and the Father came to rescue us, to do for us what we could not do for ourselves, and when Jesus Christ comes in the second coming, not only will we have received spiritual rescue, but we will receive physical rescue, a new creation, a new world.

Everything will be set right. Let’s see how the Son is involved here in the text now. First thing is we’re going to see that the Son, when he came, that he finally gives knowledge of true salvation. Verse 76 says, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. The Old Testament was pointing to the Savior coming, but people didn’t fully understand it, and we see that throughout Jesus’ life. They just didn’t always get it, until finally he had died on the cross, and he was buried, and he was resurrected, and the Holy Spirit moved in people’s lives, then they understood finally what salvation was.

And when the Son came, and as John was preparing the way, they were giving knowledge of how salvation was going to come to God’s people. We also find that the Son next gives light, and then he gives guidance. Verse 78 says, because of our God’s merciful compassion, the dawn from on high will visit us, to shine on those who live in darkness, and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. The dawn from on high is Jesus Christ.

He is the light of the world, and he not only is the light, but he gives light, and then by giving light, he gives guidance. So we have some opposites going on here. Jesus is the light, and he comes into a world, a group of people that are living in darkness. And those people that are living in darkness, if they had cared to read, they had the Old Testament scriptures, but those Old Testament scriptures had a veil over them. It was as if they were trying to read a book with a very, very dim light, and they can’t make out all the letters. The truth of his coming was there, but when Jesus finally came on the scene, then he gave the light, and he explained to them, this is what the Old Testament said about me, now you can fully understand it, what true salvation means, and how you can obtain it.

So he came to shine light in this world of darkness, where there was no complete understanding. But he also came to shine light on a people that live in the shadow of death, meaning that we’re all going to die one day. If we don’t know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, for most people, that’s a fearful thing, at least, or at best, it’s an uncertain thing that people are leery of facing. It’s why people will do everything that they can to preserve their life as long as possible if they don’t know Jesus Christ, because they don’t have the peace that comes to them. So here we have light versus darkness. We have this shadow of death, but instead of that, Jesus Christ, it says, brings us the way of peace, so that we can go through this life knowing that we can face death without fear, without uncertainty.

Jesus is the light. He gives light, and he gives guidance to us in our life how to live according to God’s Word. What are the results for us in all of this? We talked today about redemption from sin. Redemption means that someone else did something for us that we could not do for ourselves. That’s what Jesus Christ did.

He came, and he offered his very own life, his blood, to pay the ransom for us. The other result is for us that, therefore, we have salvation. We have deliverance. We have safety, and we have preservation of our lives in the past, right now, into the future, and into eternity that Jesus Christ provides salvation for us. And in the text, we learn, why does God do this for us? If you have your Bibles open, go back to verse 74 and 75.

We having been rescued from the hand of our enemies would, and this is what God desires, that we would serve him. We’re saved from slavery so that we can be in service to him, and we can, therefore, do it without fear, in holiness, in righteousness, in his presence all of our days. In other words, when we come into God’s presence now, we come into the presence of our Abba, of our Father, and we can rush right into the throne room. And we don’t have to be fearful of judgment. We don’t have to be fearful of punishment, because now we have been made holy, and we have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. And the wonderful thing there at the end of the verse that says that we are to do this in his presence all of our days.

The most wonderful thing in the world that you can think of is nothing like the presence of God the Father. If you put all the wonderful things in your life that you can think of, having grandchildren, having kids, riding a roller coaster, eating the best meal, going to the most beautiful place in the world, if you put all of those things together, we just don’t understand it, but just being in God’s presence is going to be better than all of those things put together. I mean, if you tried to do all the most wonderful things in the world at one moment, it would probably shock you, you know, your heart would stop. It’s going to be such a grand and glorious experience to be in God’s presence that we’re going to be completely overwhelmed. And the promise here is that we will be able to do that all of our days throughout eternity. Jesus redeemed us.

He delivered us so that we can serve God Almighty without fear. We also have the result that we have light instead of darkness. We go through this world with peace in our hearts, knowing what the end is going to be, that there is going to be a new creation. All things are going to be made right. All evil is going to be punished. We walk in this light, in the presence of darkness, and because light shines on us, we are to reflect that in the world to show the hope to other people.

And lastly, the result for us, that we walk in a way of peace instead of in the way of the shadow of death. Once again, we don’t have to fear what others fear, that have no faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus wants to be your Savior. We keep saying God shared his personal name. We know Jesus’ personal name. Jesus said to his disciples, now I will call you friends.

He wants to have that relationship with you. And all of the gospel keeps coming back to this. Do you believe what you’re reading? Do you believe what is said today? And will you follow him? If you can answer yes to both of those questions, then you can have the way of peace.

You can have light. You can have redemption and salvation. So as we come to a close today, that’s the first question.

Have you really believed the gospel? Do you believe all of this that you read, and have you made a choice to follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, just as the disciples did? They gave up their boats. They gave up their nets.

They gave up their fish that they had caught, and suddenly they just left everything to follow him. That’s what Jesus wants from us. That’s what it means to confess him as Lord and Savior. If you can’t say yes to both those questions, myself, Hunter, or somebody with a name tag, please find us after the service, and we’ll just sit down and explain things to you. But for the rest of us that know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, once again, we also have to say, yes, I believe what’s written here, and we have to appreciate what God has done for us. We have to appreciate what the Holy Spirit does for us, and what Jesus Christ did for us and continues to do for us, and we should continually offer up a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God for all of this that he has done for us.

May we pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you for the hope of being in your glorious presence one day. Father, we have no way of comprehending, but we know from your word that it will be beyond comparison to anything that we have here, that the glory of that time, Father, the excitement, the joy that we will experience will make everything that has been awful in this world seem very dim and very distant. We ask that you would help us to believe, to follow, to appreciate what you’ve done for us. And Father, that your Spirit would move in any hearts today that have not come to answering both of these questions, that they would speak to someone today to make it certain in their life that they might have the light of salvation shining not just upon them, but in their heart. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Zechariah’s prayer at the end there, he declared that the Savior basically is the light of the world.