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Christmas 2023: Luke 1:67-79

Our text is Luke 1:67-79,


“And John the Baptist’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,for he has visited and redeemed his peopleand has raised up a horn of salvation for usin the house of his servant David,as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,that we should be saved from our enemiesand from the hand of all who hate us;to show the mercy promised to our fathersand to remember his holy covenant,the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant usthat we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,might serve him without fear,in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,to give knowledge of salvation to his peoplein the forgiveness of their sins,

because of the tender mercy of our God,whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on highto give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,to guide our feet into the way of peace.”


You may recall that in Hebrews 11 we often saw that before God would raise up a leader to deliver His people out of bondage He would first bring fourth His word and speak to His people. He would raise up a prophet to speak so that His people could either respond in faith and be delivered, or they would reject His Word and be judged for it.


Sometimes this may have been a new word to that particular person or group of people. Often times it was simply a restatement of the Word of the LORD that had already been given through one of the patriarchs or the prophets.


We see this happening throughout our text this morning in Luke 1:67-79. Before God sends His Son into the world to save sinners the Holy Spirit breaks through the deafening silence of the past 400 years with the announcement of the arrival of a prophet of the Most High who would prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ (76-79).


In our text the Holy Spirit reminds us of some of the ways that that the Lord has pointed to the coming of His Son and to the blessings that would follow.

  • First, we see the Holy Spirit speaking through Zechariah at the birth of his Son John regarding the coming of Jesus (68-75).

  • Second, we see the Holy Spirit testifies that John will be a prophet of the Most High (76-79).

  • Third, the Holy Spirit confirms that the birth of Jesus fulfills a promise that had been given to King David (69-70- ...and He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets of old...)

  • Fourth, the Holy Spirit reminds the people that God had been speaking through the Holy Prophets concerning the coming of Jesus (70- “...as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets of old...).

  • Fifth, we see that the Holy Spirit reminds the people that the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises and the covenants that were given to their forefathers and through an oath that was made to Abraham (72-73- “...to show the mercy promised to our forefathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father Abraham...”).


All of these promises, covenants, and this oath pointed to just one person- Jesus Christ. When Jesus came He would defeat all of our enemies who hate us! Jesus saves every Christian from three enemies: indwelling sin, sin in the world and Satan. The result of this is that we will be able to serve the LORD without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.


Our text speaks of our deliverance from our enemies two times. First, we see it in verses 68-71 which says, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us…”.


Here the Holy Spirit testifies that Jesus will be a strong and mighty King who will save us from our enemies and from the hand of all of those who hate us. In these verses Jesus is referred to as a ‘horn of salvation’ (69). In other words, this little baby who would soon be born would grow up to be a mighty Messianic King who will reign with strength and power for the deliverance of His people from their enemies who hate them.


Secondly, we see that we are delivered from our enemies in verse 74 when Jesus displays His mercy towards His people as He fulfills every promise, remembers every covenant and keeps the oath that the LORD has made. We read in vv. 72-74 these words, “...to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear…”.


The birth of Jesus Christ is the climax and the fulfillment of all of these words, covenants, promises and the oath that was made to Israel. All of these things point us to the promised Messiah that we are celebrating during the Christmas season. Today, and every day we celebrate that, “The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us and all who received Him, who believed upon Him, He gave the right to become children of God!” (John 1:1-18)


Now that Jesus has come there is no need for any other word to be spoken. Hebrews 1:1-4 said, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, who He appointed the heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world. He is the exact radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”


In our text we see that when Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit he begins with these words in v.68, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel...”


At the very beginning of this prophecy we are told that we are to bless the LORD. The very first point that is made by the Holy Spirit is that the LORD is deserving of our praise and worship. This message that the Holy Spirit is about to deliver should produce praise and adoration to God in all those who hear it. Is your heart prepared to worship the LORD as you consider this message?


We should not think that it is so strange of a thing that the Holy Spirit would begin with this exhortation to praise the LORD. We will see in our text this is something that has been spoken of throughout the Old Testament and it has produced praise and worship in God’s people throughout redemptive history. It all began with the words in Genesis 3:15 right after Adam and Eve sinned and the LORD promised, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heal.”


From that moment on God would send prophets, make covenants, and swear an oath that He would show mercy by sending the Messiah to save helpless and hopeless sinners. Therefore all of these promises were to be at the heart of every worshipers praise and exaltation of God.


Application: if God was worthy of praise because of His promise to send a Savior, then how much more ought we praise, bless and exalt the LORD now that Christ has come and fulfilled all of these things.


As the Holy Spirit speaks through Zechariah his heart and mouth is filled with praise, worship, thanksgiving and adoration to the LORD. Zechariah blesses the LORD in our text this morning because He…

  • is a forgiver of sins (77).

  • is merciful towards the wicked (72, 78).

  • is a redeemer of the afflicted and the hopeless (68,79).

  • is a covenant keeper (72).

  • is faithful to keep His promises (73).

  • he has defeated all of our enemies (71,74).


Application to consider: Don’t you and I also need the help of the Holy Spirit to move our hearts this morning to worship God, to bless Him, and to adore Him for all that He has done to redeem us from our sins and to give us peace with God?


It is the Holy Spirit who shows us our great need and reveals to us that we sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; but the Holy Spirit also shows us the salvation and the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us pray that the Holy Spirit will help our hearts to bless the LORD for the salvation that we have through Jesus this Christmas.


Notice how the Holy Spirit begins to speak through Zechariah by using several past tense verbs in vv. 68-69, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and (he has) redeemed his people and (He) has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…”.


The Holy Spirit testifies that Jesus has accomplished three things. The Holy Spirit does not say that Christ accomplished one of three. The Holy Spirit does not say that Christ has accomplished two out of three. No, Jesus has fully and completely accomplished all of these things.


Observation #1: The Holy Spirit testifies that Jesus, who has not yet been born, has already accomplished these three things. We must ask a question, How is this possible?


We should remember that before the LORD had created anything…

  • The Father devised a plan to redeem and save sinful people.

  • The Son agreed to redeem transgressors from their sins through becoming a man, living a sinless life, and then dying in our place on the cross.

  • The Holy Spirit agreed to apply the benefits and blessings that Christ obtained to all of God’s elect who would respond to the gospel with repentance and faith (LBC 2.3).

  • Therefore, the whole Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, are worthy of our blessing, our praise, and adoration because of their work to save us.


After Adam and Eve sinned we were all powerless to save ourselves and we were without God and without hope in this world. Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s Word ‘all of their offspring became dead in sin and completely defiled in all capabilities and parts of soul and body’. (LBC6.2) Everyone after them was ‘conceived in sin, and were by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, and partakers of death and all other miseries- spiritual, temporal, and eternal- unless the LORD Jesus sets them free.’ (LBC6.3)


We read in the London Baptist Confession 2.1 that the LORD ‘works all things according to the counsel of His own unchangeable and completely righteous will for His own glory’. Because the LORD determined to save sinners, it would be done without fail. This is why the Holy Spirit could speak of these things as if it had already been done. The LORD is faithful to fulfill His promises.


Observation #2: Again, in verses 68-69 we read, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and (he has) redeemed his people and (He) has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…”.


The result of Christ doing these three things has profoundly practical and personal implications for all of God’s people. The result of Jesus doing these things is seen in verse 74, ‘...so that having been delivered from the hand of our enemies we might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.’


A child of God is no longer a slave and a servant of sin. A child of God is no longer completely defiled in all of their soul and body. No, because of what Jesus has accomplished we serve the LORD without fear in holiness and righteousness all our days.


In verse 74 the Holy Spirit tells us that LORD has visited His people, He has accomplished redemption for His people, and that He has raised up a horn of salvation for His people. Let’s consider these things for just a moment.


The word ‘visit’ can refer to someone who visits another to help and care for them when they are sick and afflicted and in their time of need. The Holy Spirit is reminding us that God has seen us in our affliction and He has displayed great tender mercy as He comes to save us from our misery and suffering. The LORD will deliver us from sin and He will bring us into His Kingdom.


We see something like this in Exodus 3:7-8 when we read, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and (I) have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out to the hand of the Egyptians and (I have come to) to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…’”


It is a gracious thing to know that the LORD has seen our affliction and He has decided to have mercy on us. The LORD hears our cry of suffering and He comes down to deliver us from the hand of our enemies and to bring us out from the shadow of death.


Verses 72 & 78 speaks of the ‘mercy’ of God.

  • v.72- “to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant...”

  • v.78- “...because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”


The LORD acts to save us not do this because of any good that He finds in us. Rather, He is merciful to sinners who do not deserve such comfort from the LORD. This is the mercy of God. His mercy is so lavish that it provides sinners with redemption! We see this in verse 68, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people…”.


In the bible redemption can be described in three ways.

  • First, God redeems a person and they are bought (redeemed) from slavery to sin and set free. Such a person is no longer in bondage to sin and death.

  • Secondly, God redeems a person from sin and they are set free to serve Him as their LORD and Master.

  • Thirdly, God redeems a person from their sins and they are brought into His household and adoption and they become an heir who is given an inheritance through Jesus Christ.


No sinful man can redeem his own life or the life of another. Therefore, God the Father displayed His tender mercy when He sent His only Son into the world. We are told in verse 69 that in doing this He ‘raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David.’ Therefore, Jesus had the right, the power, and the authority to save His people from all of their enemies who hated them. Jesus delivers us from indwelling sin, sin in the world, and from Satan.


The price for our redemption from these enemies was very costly to the LORD. Jesus had to live a sinless life according to the Law of God (active obedience). Then He had to die for the sins of His people (passive obedience). But after Jesus died, was put in a grave, and remained there three days God would display His great power by ‘raising up His horn of salvation’ at His resurrection. Because of this, Christ has now ascended to the right hand of God where He is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God forever. God has indeed ‘raised up a horn of salvation for us’ and He rules over all things.


Again, the result of this divine work of redemption is summed up in v. 74-75 where we read, “...that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”


It is breathtaking to consider all that Christ has done for us. Do you believe that Christ has achieved these things for you?


These verses give us a full and accurate expression of the complete redemption that Jesus has worked for us.

  • Jesus has redeemed us and set us free (delivered us) from our enemies: indwelling sin, sin in the world, and Satan.

  • Jesus has redeemed us so that we might serve Him without fear as He guides our feet in the way of peace through the forgiveness of sins. (v. 78-79: ...because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.)

  • Jesus has redeemed us, adopted us, and He has imputed to us true holiness and righteousness. Therefore, we can now serve Him all our days and our lives will produce the fruit of righteousness and holiness. Adoption is more than just a legal transaction. When one is adopted into God’s family they receive a new heart and a new nature. From that moment on they become more and more like their Heavenly Father.

  • LBC13.1 on Sanctification describes this in the following way: “Those who are united to Christ are effectually called and regenerated have a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. They are also further sanctified, really and personally, through the same power, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them. The dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the various evil desires that arise from it are more and more weakened and put to death. At the same time, those called and regenerated are more and more enlivened and strengthened in all saving graces so that they practice true holiness, without which no one will see the LORD.


In light of all of these things what sort of praise, blessing, adoration and exaltation should we give to the LORD as we were instructed in Luke 1:68?


Well, perhaps we should begin to conclude this sermon by considering the doxology given in Jude 24-25, “Now to him who is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”


This morning we have heard the testimony of the Holy Spirit concerning Jesus Christ and all that He accomplished.

  • The Holy Spirit testified through Zechariah and John about a Savior who was coming to redeem His people.

  • The Holy Spirit testified about these things through the testimony given by the fathers and the prophets.

  • The Holy Spirit testified to the promises and covenants that the LORD has made throughout redemptive history.

  • This testimony ought to be believed and responded to by faith.


All of these things have been fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ. In light of all of these things we are to praise the LORD this Christmas as we remember the coming of Christ…

  • for He has visited and redeemed His people (68)

  • for He has raised up a horn of salvation from the house of David (69)

  • for He has saved us from our enemies and those who hate us (71, 74)

  • for He has shown us His tender mercy (72, 78)

  • because He has adopted us and imputed to us true holiness and righteousness (75)

  • because we have been given knowledge of salvation in the forgiveness of sins (77)

  • because He guides our feet in the way of peace (79)


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