“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of
all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
This passage in Luke is the prophecy of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. He is filled with the Holy Spirit, and he speaks about how his son John will prepare the way of the savior. It builds the bridge between Old Testament prophecies and covenants and ties them to the arrival of a savior, Jesus. In our 21st century understanding, we easily see how Jesus birth connected all the dots. However, while the picture may be clear to us it was a different story for the people of Jesus’ day.
The strong language of a “mighty savior,” the connection to the “house of David” the great king, and the references to being “saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us” conjured up the image of a warrior king in the minds of the Israelites. John the Baptist knew that this “savior” would be a mighty king, not with a sword, but with salvation.
Why is this passage important today, early in Advent? It reminds the reader, whether an ancient Hebrew or a 2015 Presbyterian, that Jesus may be born in a stable, but his birth is rooted in the covenant God made with Abraham. God never wavers. To prove it, he gave us His only son to rescue us from our enemies (both internal and external).
Father, you have never wavered in your love for us and your commitment to save and redeem us. Nothing proves that more clearly than the gift of your Son, our Lord Jesus. However, in our human-ness we do waver, a lot. As John the Baptist was to prepare the way for Jesus, may we use this Advent to prepare a way for Him in our hearts.