John’s Message (22-12-21)
Having regained his speech, Zechariah praise God, in words that are often sung in church and known as The Benedictus, after the Latin translation of the Zechariah’s first words.
Bible Reading: Luke 1:67-69, 74-79
John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."
Zechariah’s words cover the great span of God’s plan of salvation and then focus right down onto his new-born son, and the role that he will play in God's unfolding purposes.
In the vastness of all that is happening in our world, God is still working out his purposes, and within these purposes he has a plan for you, a role for you to play.
John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Lord. His purpose was to ‘Give his people the knowledge of salvation, through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God’. That to me seems like a very succinct summary of both the gospel of Jesus and the mission of the Church today.
We are all separated from God because of our sins, but salvation is possible through forgiveness, and forgiveness is possible because of God’s tender mercy to us. What bridges the gap between us, lost in our sin, and God, full of tender mercy, is the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The role of the Church today, yours and mine, is to make sure that people have the ‘knowledge of salvation’. Their response to this knowledge is ultimately up to them, just as your response is up to you, and my response is up to me.
How might you prepare the way for someone else to gain the knowledge of salvation? Maybe a simple word about the difference your faith makes to your life? Maybe an invitation to a Christian event or church service? Or simply gathering a few friends together in your home this Christmas?
Thank you, Lord, for your tender mercy that reaches out to me.
Help me to show your tender mercy to others, through words and deeds.
Benedictus – Karl Jenkins