Friday, November 16, 2012

#1 The Son will Bring Forgiveness (Luke 1:57-80)

Luke’s account begins by telling us that he’s presenting the evidence of what has happened and been fulfilled from the Old Testament. His thorough research has yielded this evidence which he shares with us in his gospel. The opening chapters concern the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus, and through encounters with Angels and prophetic songs display the immense significance of what might otherwise look like very ordinary events in the history of the human race.

This is Luke’s emphasis. Jesus is the Son sent from his Father. One who in childhood was left behind, “in my Father’s house” (2v49). He came to invite us into his family. Jesus prays “Father” (10v21, 22v42, 24v34, 24v46) and invites us to do the same (11v2). Through his death He brings forgiveness of sins and so we’re invited to step inside his relationship with his Father.

WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?

Like his Son (1:15) and Mary (1:35) and his wife Elizabeth (1:41) Zechariah emerges from nine months of silence and is filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit causes him to burst out with a prophetic song about the Lord’s plan of salvation. His son John will play a key role but the song looks beyond John to Jesus the Lord. The prophecy is barely about Zechariah’s own son John, because John is all about preparing for the Lord. The language feels like a military victory. There is a great foe to be defeated and the Lord is going to do it. We’ll see if that’s how things turn out.

Luke helps us to see everything that is happening is the fulfilment of the Old Testament. The coming of Jesus is a new event but not a new idea. It’s what should have been expected, and it’s what David and Abraham saw before. The life-giving rule of God is coming forever, and its coming to all the nations of the world. Salvation will come in the forgiveness of sins. This will be a major theme of John’s ministry in preparation for the Lord coming, and of Jesus’ as he offers forgiveness as the primary need for humanity.

We’re left asking, how is forgiveness possible. After Jesus dies and rises forgiveness will be preached across the whole world. As the preacher to the Hebrews says later, forgiveness of sins comes through the shedding of blood.

Humanity walks in the valley of the shadow of death, but the sun will rise as the Lord comes full of mercy and offering forgiveness. After the resurrection of Jesus the sun’s beams will begin to extend across the whole earth. Jesus will walk through the valley (Psalm 23v4) and the sun will rise (2 Samuel 23v4).

David Gooding helpfully calls chapter 1 “the last hours before dawn”, and then in chapters 2 comes the rising of the sun as Jesus is born. He will go on to walk in the darkness we know, even to face the temptations we face, even to face death… but that death will bring the sunrise, the warmth of a new dawn and a new day in which forgiveness can be preached to the ends of the earth. We’ll see what this looks like as we move forward into the next discussion…

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