And [John’s] father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the h and of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”Luke 1:67-79
Zechariah was, up to this point, mute. And having obeyed the Lord to name his son John instead of the tradition of naming him after himself (vv. 59-64), the first words out of his mouth are not words about his newborn son from his once barren wife (again, what we might expect) but words about the Lord God of Israel—the Saviour to be born, of whom his son John would be His forerunner to prepare the highway to redemption, salvation, and the forgiveness of sins.
Have you ever held in good news for so long that when it finally came time to announce it, you couldn’t help yourself but burst out with the fortissimo of good news? I imagine this is what every married couple experiences when they announce the conception of their new child. After keeping it in for so long, when the time is right, they finally burst out with the good news that a child will be born! I wonder if this is what it was like for Zechariah who, in his cursed muteness, came to the liberating realisation that his son would prepare the highway for the Saviour they’ve been waiting for since the promise given to Eve and then Abraham. Thus, he bursts with Good News that the Lord God of Israel is visiting His people! It isn’t until the end that he turns to his son, rejoicing in his call to prepare the highway for the Christ.
This is like Christmas for many of us every year. We hardly take time to slow down in the season of Advent to repent, since it is a season of repentance. We rush to Christmas by putting up our Christmas decorations and singing Christmas music. Like Zechariah, we burst with joy for Christmas before it’s here! Normally, I would criticise such hastiness, but now I think: Why not? At this point in Luke’s Gospel, Christ was already conceived; He was not yet born on Christmas morning. Yet still, by faith Zechariah sees the visitation of his Saviour and he cannot help but burst with joy that the Saviour is here!
This joy of Christmas should follow us throughout the entire year. It is good to celebrate the mystery of the incarnation of our Lord on the feast day of Christmas every year, yet this Good News lasts much longer than those 12 days of Christmas. Every day, we should be bursting with the Good News that a Saviour was born in Bethlehem to “guide our feet into the way of peace,” which is the highway of redemption—the forgiveness of sins—unto life everlasting.