67 And his father Zechari'ah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, 68 "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, 74 to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 through the tender mercy of our God, when the day shall dawn upon us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
Does the proclamation of the gospel fill you with joy and hope? When the Lord comes to redeem us he fills us with his Holy Spirit, the source of our joy and hope in the promises of God. John the Baptist was born shortly before Mary delivered her son, Jesus.
When John was circumcised on the eighth day according to the Jewish rite, his father Zechariah was "filled with the Holy Spirit" and with great joy. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he spoke out a prophetic word and hymn of blessing for the work of redemption which God was about to accomplish in Christ.
He forsaw the fulfillment of God's promise to David and his descendants that David's dynasty would endure forever through the coming of the Messianic King (2 Samuel 7:16). This King would establish peace and security for his people. We often think of peace as the absence of trouble. The peace which the Messiah brings cancels the debt of sin and restores our broken relationship with God.
The Holy Spirit gave Zechariah a vision for his own son as a prophet and forerunner who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Every devout Jew longed for the day when the Messiah would come.
Now Zechariah knows beyond a doubt that that day is very near. Like Zechariah, the Holy Spirit wants to give us vision, joy, and confidence in the knowledge of God's merciful love, protection, and care which he offers us through his Son Jesus Christ.
Like the Baptist, we too are called to prepare the way that leads to Christ. Life is a journey and we are either moving towards the Lord or away from the Lord. The Lord comes to visit us each day with his life-giving Word and Spirit. Those who hunger for the Lord will not be disappointed. He will draw them to himself and show them his love and mercy.
In sending the Messiah God has made a gracious visit to his people to redeem them. This was the mission for which Jesus Christ was sent into the world — to redeem those sold for sin and sold under sin.
In the feast of the Incarnation we celebrate the gracious gift of God in sending his only begotten Son to redeem us. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit may inspire us and fill us with joy and boldness to proclaim the message of the Lord's visitation and redemption.