A Mighty Savior (Luke 1:68-79)
When Wil was a baby, he had many problems with “benchmarks.” He was late to roll over, to sit up and to walk. When he finally learned to walk, he’d often fall. At one of his checkups, Tammy told the doctor that there was something wrong with him. The doctor said that she just needed to quit babying him. We changed doctors shortly after that and our new doctor sent Wil for some testing.
It turns out that Wil had low muscle tone. He had a great deal of physical therapy. I distinctly remember putting braces on his ankles and wrapping ace bandages around the braces to keep them in place. While he is obviously healthy now, it was difficult to see my child suffer like that.
Maybe you’ve had struggles with your health or your strength.
But, I’m confident we’ve all found ourselves weak in other ways. Jesus says we would: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41). How weak have you been at times? How many times have you spoken that hurtful word? How many times have you allowed the anger to fester? How many times have you given in to the baser desires of the flesh?
The message of the Gospel is that you and I are sinful, weak people. “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6). No matter how hard we try, we cannot save ourselves. Sin builds a wall between us and God. If that wall remains in place, we’re lost.
Because we are so weak, we need a very powerful Savior and in our text Zechariah reminds us that “Jesus is a mighty Savior.” The birth of John the Baptist had been promised to his father Zechariah. Because Zechariah and Elizabeth were so old, Zechariah didn’t believe the angel’s message. Zechariah is then mute until the child is circumcised and named John. Zechariah’s tongue is loosened, and he begins to sing the praises we find in our text. Let’s explore the text to learn that “Jesus is a mighty Savior.”
Scripture (Luke 1:68-79)
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel” means “Praise the Lord God of Israel.
“God has visited and redeemed his people. The term “visit” in Greek doesn’t mean stopping by on a social call. “Visit” means to look after with the goal of helping. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (Js 1:27). Thus, God helps his people.
“Redeem” literally is “made a ransom.” “Ransom” was the price paid to free a slave or a prisoner. God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, has paid the price to free us from sin.
God has raised up a horn of salvation. An animal’s strength is in its horns; thus, in the ancient world, “horn” stood for strength. I really like the New Revised Standard Version’s translation of this text: “He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David.” That’s more interpretation than translation, but they get it right.
What a blessing to know that “Jesus is a mighty Savior.” Jesus can save me from every sin, not just the “little” sins. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim 1:15).
This salvation isn’t a new idea, but God has spoken of this salvation since the beginning of the world—God cares enough about you that he was going to save you from the very Creation.
We would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Some want to look at this as a “geo-political” salvation, i.e., the Jews would be saved from the Romans. Zechariah may have expected the Messiah to take care of the Romans. But, he speaks these words by the Holy Spirit (v 67). A “geo-political” salvation doesn’t jive with Jesus’ mission nor with history. Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us will take place on that last day.
verses vv 72-73:
Zechariah again reminds us that God is acting in the Person of Jesus as he has promised from long ago.
The early Christians were seldom delivered from their enemies that they might serve God without fear. James was killed with the sword, Stephen was stoned, and many other Christians died violent deaths. How can Zechariah seriously say that these early Christians were delivered from their enemies and served God without fear? Zechariah speaks of the spiritual reality-When you’re facing great persecution in this life, what better way to be delivered from your enemies than to lay down your life and enter your reward? “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Heb 13:6).We’re saved from our sins that we might serve God in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. We’re not saved from sin just to sit around and worship every now and then-We’re saved from sin in order to serve God. We serve God in holiness and righteousness. I’m confident that we see a double meaning here. God makes us holy and righteous through the salvation he offers, but we need to keep ourselves holy and righteous.
We’re to serve God “all the days of our life.” There’s no checking out on God; no retirement from service to him. That doesn’t mean that as we age we can serve in the church like we could when we were younger, but we can be just as faithful to God.
Zechariah concludes this hymn of praise by a declaration of how his son, John the Baptizer, would help prepare the way for Jesus, our mighty Savior.>
“Jesus is a mighty Savior!” How does that truth apply to me? The text implies two applications: one for those who are in Christ and one for those who are not in Christ.
For those not in Christ, this text says that God can indeed forgive you of all your sin.
Sometimes people are afraid God can’t forgive them. God can forgive! He has raised up a “horn of salvation”-a mighty Savior. In Jesus, “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7).If you don’t know the great salvation of Jesus, you need to come to that mighty Savior this morning. Baptism is the culminating act of our obedience to Jesus. Baptism is the point at which God forgives sin-provided we’ve done what else God requires. ” Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). Is it the case that you need to be baptized this morning to wash away your sins?
For those who are in Christ, the text says that we need to serve God “in holiness and righteousness.”
What are you doing to serve God? God has saved us to be his servants. ” For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10).
Let me urge you to find your talent and serve God faithfully with it. We all have talents: ” To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability” (Matt 25:15). What can you do with the talent God has given you? Every person’s talent is different. What will you do with the talent God has given you?
Some ways we can serve with almost no talent.
- Potter’s Children’s Home needs supplies. Make sure you bring them tonight.
- There are postcards in the back; send them to visitors.
- You can keep your life holy and righteous so you can be an example to others: ” In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16).
What service will you render this day?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Dale Ridge church of Christ in Roanoke, Virginia.