The Second Song of Advent: Mighty, Merciful, & Mindful II
Click here for an audio version of this blog post.
Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
68 “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. ” – Luke 1:67-75
You may recall my previous post regarding Mary’s song. I used the Rick Warren, “If-my-bullet-fits-your-gun,-shoot-it” rule, although I applied it to the bullet supplied by Alistair Begg. He had an excellent message on Mary’s song, and noted that she points us to a God who is mighty, merciful, and mindful. Those three words are actually in her song. Not all three words are in Zechariah’s song, but the same three apply to his witness to God’s character here.
God is mighty. He is in control of all things. He is no wimp. And he has sent a mighty Savior. When Zechariah spoke those words, Jesus had not been born, and certainly he had not begun his public ministry. But it was a fait accompli that Jesus was coming and would redeem his people.
The mightiness of Jesus is certainly well hidden in his birth. There he will be weak and vulnerable. He will be helpless and totally dependent on the care of his mother and Joseph. But he will grow into a man who will show great power. Stilling a stormy sea. Walking on water. Raising the dead. Healing debilitating diseases. Forgiving sins. Rising from the dead.
The earthly bookends of Jesus’ earthly life reveal a vulnerability that points us to God’s incredibly-far-reaching mercy. God’s heart is turned toward the suffering, the poor, the humble, the needy, the repentant sinner. So much willing to be moved by our need that he will die for us. Grace is getting something we do not deserve. Mercy is not receiving something we deserve. Mercy is also a heartfelt response to the suffering of others. God has both for us: Grace and mercy.
The other day I put some packages outside our door as I was carrying them into the motel room in which we were staying. I made another trip to the car and back, walking right by those things outside our door. Later that evening we came back to our room and discovered that I had not only left those things outside our door, but I had even left the door ajar! That’s not mindfulness. God is not like that! He is mindful of our need. But God is not only mindful of our need, but also of his promises to us. God has not forgotten you. God has not forgotten your need, nor despised you for being needy. God has not lost track of his word of promise. He has not abandoned you in your time of need. He will act.
This is Zechariah’s prophecy. We join him in singing God’s praises!