When you think about Christmas songs, what comes to mind? “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” or maybe “Silent Night” might be commonly recalled. This series is not about those songs. It is about the songs sung by people inside of the narrative of Christ’s birth. These are the songs given to us in the Gospel of Luke describing the most important event of human history: The birth of our Messiah. First up: Zechariah
Zechariah was a priest that lived some 2000 years ago in Israel. At this time, Israel was under the Roman Empire and had spent the previous 400 years without a prophet from God. It was promised at the end of the Old Testament that a prophet would be sent – but that was 400 years ago and the hope was waning.
Zechariah was visited by an angel while serving in the temple as a priest. The angel relays this message that a son will be born to him and his wife Elizabeth – but they are old. These two have been married a long time and have never had a child. At this point in life they had given up on that idea. Zechariah illustrates his defeat in this area in his response to the angel and his doubt that God could do such a thing. Doubt that was awarded with nine months of silence – Zechariah was made mute!
Well, the angel was right and a son was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth. That son was John: John the Baptist. Of him, it was written, that no one who lived was greater than he. His mission was to make ready the people of Israel for their coming Messiah.
You can find the song Zechariah sings about this son in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verses 68-79. Give those a read, then come back here.
A few things to really look at in this song are the connections to the Old Testament. Remember that Zechariah was a priest in Israel. He knew the Old Testament well and would have been something of the local Bible guru in his village. He puts the pieces together with what he knows of the Bible and what he sees happening all around him then he lets out this song of praise to God. In it he is recounting the prophecies given that are being fulfilled, the covenants of God that are being seen through, and the promise of a Messiah who is coming to save what was lost.
These powerful words recount for us the faithfulness of a sovereign God who promised long ago to save His people – and that promise was fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I urge you, this Christmas, to step back from the world and leap into the Word of God. Saturate this season with the promises made true by the God who came, lived, died, and rose again to redeem your soul for eternity.
Want more? Go read Psalm 106 and see how many correlations you can make. Want even more? Well, next week we will look at another one: the song his wife Elizabeth sings. Want even more than that? Well… then holler at Steven and pack a snack – it will be a long conversation.