My Place in His Coming
Text: Luke 1:68-80
As we read the first chapter of Luke we are introduced to several key people who will play a role in the coming of Jesus into the world. There is Zacharias, the priest, his wife, Elizabeth, there is John the Baptist even before he is born and of course Mary the mother of Jesus. There are others that we don’t see in the narrative that God is using to bring Jesus to a different world. Through them Jesus is brought into our world and the world of the future every time the Christmas story is read. There are people like Luke the only Gentile, non-Jewish writer of any of the Bible books and even the man Theophilus that Luke wrote both his gospel and the book of Acts as a record of the life of Jesus and the beginning of the church.
Can you imagine what it must have been like for them all to have been caught up in the midst of these great events, to be used of God to present Christ to the world?
I want us to look especially at someone who one of the first to be caught up in the coming of Jesus, Zacharias. I want to examine what it meant to him and to his son John and hopefully capture a small portion of that same sense of awe and grandeur when we realize like him that God still has a role, a place for us in Jesus coming today into the hearts and lives in our world.
Lets turn to Luke 1:57 and the birth of John the Baptist the forerunner to Jesus Christ.
Fulfilled Promise Luke 1:68-75
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
We are jumping into the middle of this chapter, but you know how this story began. Zacharias was a member of the tribe of Levi and the members of the tribe were appointed by God to serve in the Temple, by this time there were many members of the tribe and as the turn of each family came due to serve, they would draw lots from the members of that family to see which one would have the honor of serving. It was a great blessing to be chosen and usually a once in a lifetime event. When the time come for Zacharia family and the lot fall on him it must have seemed like the greatest event of his life, but God saw to it that it wasn’t even close.
Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth had no children and in the course of serving in the Temple the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and told him he would have a child, even great than that was the fact that this child was to be the prophesied forerunner of the promised Messiah of Israel, for which the Jews has been waiting and praying for thousands of years.
So great was his shock that he said he expressed doubt and asked for a sign. The angel’s reply is a strong reprimand, “Luke 1:19-20 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”
Word to the wise don’t mess with Gabriel, the messenger of God. When these things were fulfilled in their season as Gabriel said. The baby is born and he is named by the Gabriel’s instructions, “John” which in Hebrew is Yohanan, and means "God is gracious." After his birth Zacharias’ voice is returned, he is filled with the Spirit of God and he begin to preach about the Messiah and about role his son would play in the coming of Christ to the nation of Israel. Look at what he said…
Why He Came Then
Zacharias says Jesus was to come for Redemption in Vs. 68
The word redemption, means a buying back. To Zacharias it meant the repurchase from the sin that his nation had been sold into since the time of Nebuchadnezzar. That they would be ruled by a descendant from the throne of David and be no longer under the dominion of the Gentiles.
Jesus was to be A Horn of Salvation in Vs. 69
A horn of Salvation means the power or strength of salvation. This salvation would be unshakeable, sure and strong. It would be able to save them from all enemies. It would strong because it would be in Jesus Christ himself, He would be the Horn of Salvation.
Deliverance in Vs. 71
Jesus would save them from their enemies, The word means delivered, snatched away. Delivered from those nations which would try to destroy Israel and her people, God's people.
That in their deliverance there would be A place of Service in Vs. 74
The Jewish people could serve God and fulfill their great purpose just as Zacharias had in serving in the Temple. They would serve without fear, in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. This had to mean so much to Zacharias because he had probably spent his whole life waiting for the chance to serve God in the Temple that eventful day.
Why He Comes Today
What about today. We think of His first coming as a baby, thousands of years ago and the One who would day on the cross as our sacrifice, or we think about his coming again in His second coming as Lord and King of all the earth, but He also comes everyday into people’s hearts and He comes for the same reasons. And just as eventful as that day was for Zacharias, the day Jesus comes into our lives is the most incredible day you will ever experience. And yes he comes today for the same reasons Zacharias speaks of.
He comes into our lives because there is a need for redemption.
We are a people who are sold into the slavery of sin. Often, we don’t see our shackles or look around us to see our oppressor, but the slavery is still there.
Sometimes it is plain to see in the life of those around us like a woman sells her 5yr old daughter for crack cocaine, or a man who takes the paycheck his family needs for rent and food and spends it at the bar, or a young girl who gives herself to one abuse relationship after another. Sometimes though it is that undeniable reality in our own life that we are held by a power that is great than we are and we are in our deepest heart of hearts, slaves to sin. No one else may see it but I know it is true.
We are in need of a Savior. Just as the people of Zacharias and Elizabeth’s time. We need someone who has the power, the strength to fight for and earn our salvation not just for a day but for eternity.
We need Deliverance, a rescuer, who will snatch us from the jaws of hell and the doom of an eternal death.
And we still need A place of Service, a purpose for living, a reason to exist in a world that often is filled with chaos and uncertainty. Jesus can give us the answer to the question, “Why am I here? Who am I?” Jesus tells us that we are His and we have a place of service with Him.
Illustration: Jesus’ reason for coming
John 9:39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
Next Zacharias looks at the role his son would play in the coming of Jesus
Fulfilled Place Luke 1:76-77
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
Now Zacharias turns from the Messiah’s role to the role of John, his son.
He says that John would be a prophet. And not just any prophet for John stood on the very dividing line between the Old and New testament. He was the first New Testament prophet and He was the last Old Testament prophet.
As a prophet he never foretold the distant future only the very near. His job was to shout, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." He was to point out the people’s sin and their need to turn to God.
Example of John's preaching in Luke 3:7-9 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.
(Now I don’t know about you but if I was told someone was coming after me with an axe, I’d pay serious attention to what the man was saying about repenting.)
John was to be the Preparer of the way in Vs. 76
This was a herald sent to tell of a coming King. In response the people would smooth the road and clean the street so that the King would have a smooth journey.
John's job was to prepare the way of Jesus to this country, this nation that had been waiting for their Messiah for over a thousand years. By his preaching their hard unwelcome hearts would be made pliable and open, ready for the entrance of their King.
Zacharias says that John was to be the Giver of knowledge of Salvation in Vs. 77
John would cause the people not to just hear and dream of salvation but to actual experience and know it. This they would understand because they would find the remission of sin through their Messiah.
Remission is the pardon and forgiving of sin, releasing the penalty of sin as if it had never been committed. This is how they would know salvation. It would be real because they could feel and sense their sin being lifted and removed from them.
John played these three roles before the coming Jesus, Prophet, Preparer of the way and Giver of knowledge of salvation. Do those roles apply to us?
In what way are we prophets?
Not by foretelling the future but by forthtelling the consequences of sin. It is still our role, our calling our task to say, This is sin. You are not exempt from this just because the sin becomes popular or because people call you a hater for speaking the truth. Truth is not subject to the world’s reality, truth subjects our world to God’s reality. And it is our calling to make that plain.
Truth does not blush. -Tertullian (c. 160–after 220)
Preparer of the way
Yes we are still preparers of the way. I must prepare the way for the entrance of Jesus Christ into the hearts of people who do not know Him. How do I do that?
We do it with our words. We do it with God's Word. We do it with our life and we do it with the life of Christ that is in us. We need to take very prayerfully and seriously our role as someone who is preparing those in our life to meet Jesus Christ. Live, speak and sacrifice as a person who is aware of that role.
Giver of knowledge of Salvation
We are so blessed to be called to the task of telling others of salvation. It is here through this role that burdens are lifted. Here is where sin is forgiven. As Psalms says, “Come, taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Illustration: Robert Baxter's writing in my Bible.
Richard Baxter (1615-1691) “The Need for Personal Revival”
I know not what others think, but for my own part I am ashamed of my stupidity, and wonder at myself that I deal not with my own and others souls as one that looks for the great day of the Lord; and that I can have room for almost any other thoughts and words; and that such astonishing matters do not wholly absorb my mind. I marvel how I can preach of them slightly and coldly; and how I can let men alone in their sins; and that I do not go to them, and beseech them, for the Lord's sake, to repent, however they may take, and whatever pain and trouble it should cost me. …And for myself, as I am ashamed of my dull and careless heart, and of my slow and unprofitable course of life, so the Lord knows, I am ashamed of every sermon I preach; when I think what I have been speaking of, and who sent me, and that men's salvation or damnation is so much concerned in it, I am ready to tremble lest God should judge me as a slighter of His truths and the souls of men, and lest in the best sermon I should be guilty of their blood. Me thinks we should not speak a word to men in matters of such consequence without tears, or the greatest earnestness that possible we can; were not we too much guilty of the sin which we reprove, it would be so.
Truly this is the peal that conscience doth ring in my ears, and yet my drowsy soul will not be awakened. Oh, what a thing is an insensible hardened heart! O Lord, save us from the plague of infidelity and hard-heartedness ourselves, or else how shall we be fit instruments of saving others from it? Oh, do that in our souls which thou wouldst use us to do on the souls of others.
Transition: I may be overwhelmed, daunted by the task I face. How did others fulfill this role.
How They Fulfilled Their Roles
How did these people accomplish the task and fulfill the role that was given them by God?
Look at John in Vs. 15 The Bible says he was separated and filled. “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.”
Or Elisabeth in vs. 41 She served God and was filled, “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:”
Zacharias in vs. 67 Patient and filled. “And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied,”
Peter in Acts 4:8 Bold and filled
The Church in Acts 4:31 Praying and filled.
Stephen in Acts 7:55 Martyred and filled.
Power For Our Roles
So How Will We Fulfill Our Roles?
If you are His then you have a role to fulfill in his service, but just like those in Luke chapter one and throughout the Bible it is a role that is beyond your own power. You need the same power they had, you need for God to fill you with His Spirit just as he filled them.
Mark 13:11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
For everyday living, for everyday finding my place in his coming, I must trust in the power and the filling the Holy Spirit.
Scripture Ephesians 5:18-20 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
By the attitude seen in Ephesians 5:18-20
By confession of sin. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
By full submission to God. Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
By abiding in Christ. John 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Illustration: The role of Hattie May Wiatt
In 1886 in Philadelphia. Rev. Conwell said the little girl's name was Hattie May Wiatt. She lived near a church where the Sunday School was very crowded and he told her that one day they would have buildings big enough to allow every one to attend who wanted to. Later, Hattie May Wiatt became sick and died. Rev. Conwell was asked to do the funeral and the girl's mother told him that Hattie May had been saving money to help build a bigger church and gave him the little purse in which she had saved 57 cents. Rev. Conwell had the 57 cents turned into 57 pennies, told the congregation the story of little Hattie May and sold the pennies for a return of about $250. In addition, 54 of the original 57 pennies were returned to Rev. Conwell and he later put them up on display. This was in 1886 when 57 cents was no small savings account for a little girl from a poor family. Some of the members of the church formed what they called the Wiatt Mite Society which was dedicated to making Hattie May's 57 cents grow as much as possible and to buy the property for the Primary Department of the Sunday school. A house nearby was purchased with the $250 that Hattie May's 57 cents had produced and the rest is history. The first classes of Temple College, later Temple University, were held in that house. It was later sold to allow Temple College to move and the growth of Temple, along with the founding of the Good Samaritan Hospital (Now the Temple University Hospital) have been powerful testimonies to Hattie May Wiatt's dream.
Are you fulfilling your role as a Child of God? Are you willing to be a Prophet who tells others the truth about their sin? Will you be a Preparer of the Way to speak in act in such a way that people’s hearts are ready when Jesus come to them? Can you be a Giver of the Knowledge of Salvation? The person God uses to give the Gospel and its power to a lost soul.
Those roles are as daunting as the ones faced by Zacharias and the people of Luke 1 but if we will trust in the promise of God that His Holy Spirit will fill us then the role we are to fill is possible in that power.