Second Sunday in Advent JOHN BENEDICTUS 8 CHARADES, PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE
Scripture: Luke 1:68-79
“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.
71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
and from all who hate us.
72 He has been merciful to our ancestors
by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath
to our ancestor Abraham.
74 We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.
76 “And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”
I am intrigued by the verbs in this passage. Think about the setting and put yourself right amid the people gathered around Elizabeth and Zechariah. This lady, well along in years, has just miraculously given birth to their first son. Everyone has been waiting for this moment. She has been somewhat of a novelty the past nine months being pregnant in her “later years!” Her husband has been mysteriously unable to talk during the whole time. The baby arrives in great joy. In what must have looked like the game of charades, you all ask Zechariah a question. He motions for a tablet on which he writes the baby’s name is John. His tongue is loosed, and he begins to speak.
Notice the opening references to the Messiah are in past tense, as though Jesus’ birth has already happened. (Has visited, has redeemed, has sent, we have been rescued). “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb.11:1) These verb tenses demonstrate Zechariah’s faith; he believes in what is yet to come. The Messiah is not present. Jesus will not be born for another six months! Zechariah’s words then move to the future tense regarding his own newborn son. You, baby John, “will be called a prophet, you will prepare, you will tell.” It is only at the end of his song that the old priest moves into the present tense, “the morning light is about to break upon us!”
This is a marvelous example and pattern of faith. Notice what exercising faith does; how it plays with time. It treats the future as “past” (certainty v.68-69) and the present as “future” (anticipated certainty v.76-79) and the past as “present.” (absolute certainty v.71-74). Faith transcends time. As you consider the events and concerns in your life today, let Zechariah’s faith model guide you.
Music: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” Voces8
Prayer: Our omniscient Father, who dwells in heaven and who knows the exact time of our Savior’s return to earth, grant that we may live in ready anticipation of that great day; may the activities of this day enhance our preparation; may our minds be tuned to see our surroundings as you do; may we not become so engrossed in this world so as to make the next a fantasy, a dream, an unreality. Ground our waiting, our anticipation in the certainty of the Lord’s glorious Return. This we pray in the name of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen. –Daniel Sharp
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