Luke 1:68-79 – Christ the King (Zechariah’s Song)
Zechariah has been struck mute upon hearing that his wife Elizabeth will bear a child in old age. Later, she has given birth to a son, and his parents have brought him to be circumcised and named. Elizabeth has favoured the name John, and Zechariah has agreed. Now Zechariah “filled with the Holy Spirit … spoke this prophecy” (v.67), known as the Benedictus – the Latin translation of “Blessed” (v.68). Vv. 68-69 tell of the blessing Israel’s God brings to “his people”: the Jews are the elect. (While the verbs in translations are in the past tense, the present is equally appropriate. The tense in Greek shows that they describe how God characteristically acts and what he is inaugurating in Jesus.) God gives them one who will save them from sin (“mighty saviour”, v.69), descended from David, in fulfilment of prophecies he made through the Old Testament “prophets” (v.70) who told of rescue from “enemies” (v.71). God fulfils his promises, especially his pact with Abraham (vv. 72-73), so Israel may from now on hold him in proper respect but not fear his wrath. The “child” (v.76) is John the Baptist. He will be thought to be Elijah, “the prophet …” (although Luke sees the prophet long expected as Jesus). John’s mission will be to bring people to an ethical, godly, way of living, thus preparing the way for “the Lord”. Vv. 78-79 return to Jesus’ role: he will be the “dawn” (new light) from heaven, the one through whom God fulfills his purpose for humanity. At a time when hopes are at low ebb and people are particularly in need, he will be a beacon guiding them into “peace” (v.79, i.e. wholeness, harmony, well-being, prosperity and security.
© 1996-2022 Chris Haslam
Blessings, Reverend Lyndon