From Last Week's Sermon
This is the third Sunday in Advent and we continue to look forward to Christmas, remembering the birth of our Savior Jesus. It is at the birth of Jesus that we realize the great grace of God has come to us. He remembered His promises of old and came to man as man to redeem us from our sins.
We have looked at two great women, Elizabeth and Mary, as examples of the sort of faith we need to have in God. They did not doubt or waver in unbelief and God was faithful to them.
Today, we look at the birth of John Baptist. His father, Zacharias, was a righteous man but he wavered at the word of the angel and the angel struck him dumb as a punishment. But God remembered Zacharias and Elizabeth and grants them the desire of their heart, a son who took away not only the reproach of Elizabeth but also the forerunner of the one who would take away the reproach of all Israel. John Baptist comes as the herald of the grace of God that would do more than restore Israel to a former state of glory.
Zacharias speaks of the one from whom all blessings flow, the Highest One, God in the flesh, who will bring the light, not only to Israel, but will, in fact, be the light of the whole Earth. These are even greater glories than Israel anticipated and reveal the grace of God in an incomprehensible way.
Zacharias speaks of the prophets of old, even from the beginning, and connects what is going on with John Baptist and his cousin Jesus with the old, old story. That story is completely dependent upon God calling himself to remembrance and repeatedly showering His people with grace out of His tender mercy.
For all of our teaching and preaching on the Fatherhood of God, we still need continual reminders that God is tender and merciful. It is true that God is holy and righteous and that His holiness requires justice. That is not at all inconsistent with His revealed character as patient, long-suffering, tender, merciful and quick to forgive. For those in high rebellion, it makes their rebellion that much worse, for they refuse the hand of such a kind and gentle Father. But for those of us who come to Him for grace, knowing that He is tender and merciful, it should give us confidence that He always remembers His promises to us.
We can know these things in our minds, in our brains, but the only way to feel them in our hearts, such that our soul magnifies the Lord, is for the Holy Spirit to make these things alive and real for us. So, we call upon God to pour out His Spirit upon us and when we do this, we remember that God remembers and is gracious to those who call upon Him and we believe that He will do what He said He would and fill us with His Spirit.