God’s Mercy and Favour (Luke 1.5-80)
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people… (v68)
Just before Christmas a letter appeared in the NZ Herald: … We live in an age that allows us to record information which places facts beyond dispute, so it is time for the deity or deities, if they exist, to advertise and transmit personally the edicts of salvation in an indisputable manner.
Luke’s message is precisely that God has responded to this challenge – more than 2,000 years ago. In the days of Herod, king of Judea (5), he stepped onto the stage of human history in the person of Jesus Christ – the Son of God (35). He did so in an unmistakably miraculous way, but one foretold by Israel’s prophets (70).
It requires faith to believe that Luke’s testimony is true, but it is a reasonable faith. It is nonsense to suggest that it is only in the modern age that we have acquired the ability to record information which places facts beyond dispute. No record, or fact, is ever beyond dispute; and modern historians are no less conflicted by their own contexts and prejudices than ancient ones. Again, trust Luke, even when his facts are miraculous, for surely nothing is impossible with God (37).
So God has acted personally, not only visiting but redeeming his people (70). These prophetic words, spoken by Zechariah, are given him by God’s Holy Spirit, who plays a central role in Luke-Acts (see Acts 1.1). They also anticipate the rest of the Gospel narrative.
Note that Luke’s Gospel begins and ends in Jerusalem, “in the temple of the Lord” (9), with offerings of incense and blessing to God. Worship forms a bracket, or ‘cover’ around this great story of redemption.
How appropriate, for all God’s visitations in chapter one – to Zechariah, Mary, Elizabeth, and “his people” - are expressions of his great mercy or favour (12, 30, 41-2, 72, 78). Wonderfully for us, that mercy and favour will - in Luke’s sequel Acts - be extended to the end of the earth (Acts 1.8).
In what ways have you experienced God’s mercy or favour in your life?
My God and Father, I praise you that you hear the cry of those who fear you, and respond in your great mercy. Hear my prayer today for the poor, the persecuted and the broken hearted, for I ask it in the name of Jesus the Saviour of all. Amen.
Michael Hewat is currently serving as the Senior Minister at West Hamilton Community Church, New Zealand
Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash