“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
He has sent us a mighty Savior …
just as he promised …
Now we will be saved from our enemies
and from all who hate us.
We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.”
(from Luke 1)
This is what we have just celebrated: God, coming to us and rescuing us from the enemies of our souls so that we can serve Him without fear.
Those lines could be our Christmas song of praise and gratitude. But they come from Luke 1, Zechariah’s prophecy. Zechariah had been unable to speak for nine months, from the time a messenger angel had told him he would have a son who would prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. Now, on the day his infant son John is named, Zechariah suddenly bursts out with this praise and prophecy.
The main characters in the scenes of the opening chapters of Luke were all waiting for the time when God’s promises would be fulfilled. They longed for rescue from the oppression of their enemies. They had waited for generations for God to fulfill His promise and send someone who would set their nation free.
And then the Promised One came!
The promised rescue was even larger than God’s people had dreamed: This Messiah saves from those who can kill the soul. And God, in His kindness, extends that rescue beyond Israel to anyone who desires it.
And so, in one sense we celebrate what we know right now, at this moment in God’s history: Jesus can rescue us from the enemies of our souls so we can serve our God without fear and in holiness and righteousness.
Yet we too still wait and look forward to the final, all-encompassing rescue—when Christ appears again on the earth and sets up His kingdom and ALL of life is redeemed and restored. I suspect the fulfillment of this promise, too, will be far beyond anything we dream of now.
He is the Beginning and the End and we wait, here in the middle, for the Promised One to come …