“And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:67-79
Zacharias, being filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke the words of the “Benedictus” (Latin for “Blessed”). It is both a song of praise to God for sending the long promised Messiah and Savior into the world to redeem mankind from sin, and it is a prophecy concerning our Lord and Savior, and concerning John the Baptist, who would prepare the people for the Lord’s coming.
Zacharias blessed and praised the Jehovah God of Israel because He, in Jesus Christ, would take on human flesh and blood and become true man in order to visit and redeem His people (cf. Psalm 130:7-8). In Christ, God raised up a horn of salvation–a strong and mighty Savior–for us in the house of His servant David (Mary being a descendant of David). And this was as God had promised through His holy prophets from the beginning of the world.
According to the promises of God, beginning with that first promise spoken in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), God would in Christ save us from our enemies. He would destroy the devil and his hold upon us by fulfilling the righteous demands of God’s Law and then bearing upon the cross the punishment for our sins (cf. Col. 1:12-14; 2:14-15; Gal. 3:10,13). Thus, He would save us from our enemies that we “might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life” (v. 74, 75). And, when Jesus Christ returns to “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body” (Phil. 3:21), then we will, without sin, “serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness” (Luther’s Small Catechism, 2nd Article).
John the Baptist, though yet a young child at the time this prophecy was spoken, was to be “the prophet of the Highest” (v. 76); for he was to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ by giving them knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. He was to call men to repent of their sinful ways and then comfort them with the knowledge that God is gracious to them and forgives their sins for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice for sin (cf. Luke 3:3; John 1:29).
He was to give light to those sitting in spiritual darkness and in the shadow of eternal death. He was to lead and guide God’s people to their Savior, Jesus Christ, that they might truly know the peace of God which was established through the death of Christ for our sins (cf. 2 Cor. 5:19; Eph. 2:12ff.).
Today, we join Zacharias in blessing and praising God for sending the long promised Savior into the world. And, we, following the example of John the Baptist, prepare people for Christ’s return by giving them knowledge of salvation by the remission of their sins, for sake of Christ’s blood, which was shed upon the cross for the sins of the world.
O Gracious and Merciful God, we thank and praise Thee for sending forth Thy Son into the world to be born of a virgin and made man that He might redeem us from all our sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; for Jesus’ sake, grant that we trust in Thy mercy and serve Thee both here in this world and hereafter in heaven. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
[Scripture from the King James version of the Bible]