A Few Steps From Peace….
Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people… (Luke1:68)
Each time I read the New Testament I enjoy the variety of the voices God choose to recount His life, death and resurrection. Only Luke includes the prophetic praise declaration of Zacharius.
Malachi concluded his prophetic scroll with a stern “Or else” from God, saying — Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse. We quickly and quietly turn a single page in our bibles and begin to read Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus, but in the turning of that page 400 years passed without a prophetic word from God.
The verse previous to today’s verse informed us that eight days after John’s birth — Zacharius was filled with the Holy Spirit….. Imagine Zacharius’ recent life. Struck dumb by God. His barren wife suddenly pregnant. The birth of His son, the greatest blessing and desire of any Hebrew man. And yet, this first great outpouring from his mouth in months, although it mentions the forerunner, John, focuses on the proclamation of the arrival of Redemption through God’s Son, the Messiah, saying — He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for His people….
To this day, if I ask my son Eli (now 33) What was the happiest day of my life?, He responds — The day I was born. (Sarah, born a few later knows in her heart that while the joy of her birth came second, I love her equally). The day of the birth of a child is amazing. In the first century there was a high infant mortality rate. Zacharius’ wife, Elizabeth, was older and while the risk of childbirth must have been considered high, his praise is directed at the as yet unborn son of his wife’s cousin, Mary, instead of the birth of his own son, John. Oh, I don’t think he realized exactly where this Redeemer he spoke of would emerge, yet he praised Him just eight days after his own son’s birth. Would I have done that while floating in the joy of the birth of a new born son of my own? I don’t know.
As Zacharaius’ praise continues he declares that this Redeemer will be born — in the house (lineage of) His servant, David…. About a thousand years earlier, David had written — He has sent Redemption to His people… Same Spirit, same message.
David and Zacharius, whom the bible says were both filled with the Holy Spirit, responded by recognition of the Christ, praise for Him above all other matters, and proclamation of who He is. Nothing mattered more. A few years later, Peter, and John and then Paul had the same experience. Once they had been joined to God through the Holy Spirit, recognition, praise and proclamation of Jesus dominated their existence. To all of these great men of God, nothing mattered more.
Some days, I let other matters, even insignificant matters, matter more. I let things interfere with my prayer life, my time alone with Jesus in praise. I let things interfere with my time in His Word, time alone with Jesus in recognition, and I let ordinary matters of life interfere with my sharing of His gospel, time alone with Jesus in proclamation.
Jesus — has visited and redeemed… me. I fail whenever I let my salvation slip to the back of my consciousness. I fail whenever the wonder that He would save me is not present in my mind. I fail whenever I resort to my own solutions without His quiet consultation. And yet these failures, through the glory of Grace, leave me only distanced from but not discarded by God. That alone is enough miracle, sign and wonder to produce blessed assurance.
Zacharius concluded his benediction — To guide our feet into the way of peace. The fruit of peace has ripened in my life, despite my unholy failures. Peace resides on the other side of forgiveness. Peace is broken in my life when I choose sin and delay repentance; when I repent and ask for forgiveness yet fail to receive from Him the gift of forgiveness I’ve requested; and when I fail to forgive others. It’s all so simple that I sometimes miss it.
Recognize, praise and proclaim — repent, receive and forgive. I’m never more than these few steps from His abiding peace.
Are you walking in His peace today?