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December 11, 2016

"THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ZACHARIAS"

TEXT: Luke 1: 67-80
READING:
 Psalm 72: 1-20

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SUBJ: The prophecy of Zacharias at the birth of John the Baptist as both Christ and His forerunner are announced as having come into being. We would note the Gospel content regarding both. The message that John would preach and the person preached are here dealt with.

AIM: That we should ever be discerning the Gospel as it is in Christ in every portion of the Word.

INTR: Only in Luke do we see the conjoining of the accounts of the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus as he reminds us of the connection prophesied of old and now by Zacharias.
1. This a long chapter in which even the translators could find no break. After the dedication to Theophilus we follow the intertwined narrative from the appearance of Gabriel to Zacharias, to the appearance of the Angel to Mary, her visit to Elizabeth, to Mary’s song of praise and then to the birth of John the Baptist and the loosing of Zacharias’ tongue.
2. The story would be fascinating if we read it in any account and perhaps it is the beauty of the narrative of our Lord’s birth, in particular, that holds an attraction even to the unsaved.
3. That which the Holy Spirit provoked and empowered in Zacharias is Gospel indeed – it was then and it is now.

THESIS: The incarnation of Christ, His coming into the world, is not to be separated from the announcement miraculously given to John the Baptist. In introducing Christ to the world, John preached the essence of who He is and what He does and, thus, set the tone for what followed.

I. Zacharias’ praise for the Lord (vv. 67-75)
(This was by direct inspiration of the Spirit and so he prophesied accordingly and we may receive it as surely from him as from any other).
1. The declaration that the divine visitation had occurred (he would have known of Mary and the impending birth of his Lord).
1) It had been to Israel that the oracles and the prophets were given and now those things were being confirmed
2) Redemption was the underlying thought of what was being done – salvation from sin and c.
2. They would have known all concerning David and especially those things promised that was not only a wonder to David but also, the hope of Israel. (v. 69)
3. He acknowledged that God had responded to that which the prophets had said (vv. 70-71) and
1) We carefully note that the word “mouth” is singular in that they were all of one voice and one message it that was Christ: God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hebrews 1:1. (different places and times).
2) Peter reminds us that it was the Spirit of Christ that was in them from the beginning.
3) While much had been said of judgment, there had always been the message of deliverance.
4. The mercy of God was always in the perceptions of the true fathers (v. 72) and as is true with the faithful in all generations, there is a clinging the thought of mercy – there is no other hope!
5. In vv. 73-75, he invoked the promise given to Abraham with a precious interpretation that is certainly consistent with the divine aim:
1) That He would grant us to be delivered out of the hands of our enemies and their contaminating and stifling influence and oppression
2) That we be free to serve Him without fear and
3) To do so in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives!

II. Zacharias’ message to his son (vv. 76-79)
1. The title given him and all the implications of it
1) Prophet of the highest (5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Malachi 4:5-6)
2) He would go in the presence of the Lord and immediately before the introduction of our Lord to the world.
3) His was a very positive ministry in that preparations would be made to receive the Lord in preparing a people to received Him.
2. The message he would preach would be Gospel indeed:
1) That salvation necessarily included repentance and the remission of sins (even the fallen Jews has a sense of the need of sacrifice and thought they were doing it).
2) He was to preach that salvation would come through the tender mercies of God!
3) John was to preach that the dayspring (margin: the rising sun) had come.
3. And then quoted: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9:2 AND To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. Isaiah 42:7.
4. John preached these things

III. Zacharias’ son John (v. 80)
1. This is the early history of John the Baptist
1) He was a Nazarite from birth like Samuel
2) He grew and became strong in spirit (he had been filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb.
3) He was in the deserts (with the Lord, growing, learning, and preparing for a momentous task which he performed well). It is not that he disappeared not be seen; rather it was that he spent much time in seclusion and not in formal schooling as the son of a priest.
2. He is, as was Elijah, the “Voice of one crying in the wilderness” and preached Christ exclusively!