“…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.”
We continue to edge closer and closer to “the most wonderful time of the year” (as the song goes). “Everyone telling you ‘be of good cheer.’…Holiday greetings, happy meetings…Tales of the Christmases long, long ago.”
But here we are, once again, focusing on hymns, and Scripture readings, that at least at first glance, don’t seem all that Christmassy – at least compared to how the world celebrates Christmas. The birth of John the Baptist? Or the words of his father, Zacharias? Once again, that message of prepare, and repent. What does that have to do with Christmas? But actually, it has everything to do with Christmas.
Zacharias knew that the birth of his son was one of those indicators, promised long ago, that the Savior was coming. The light of the world was coming, to shine into our hearts. Scripture says, John “came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe….That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
Of course we’re not talking about sunlight, or artificial light. We’re talking about the spiritual light of Christ. The light of His forgiving grace.
Being filled with God’s Spirit, Zacharias’s words are full of this spiritual light of Christ, which brings peace and comfort to our soul. God has visited and redeemed His people. He remembered His promise. He has overcome all our enemies, even our greatest enemies, of sin, death, the devil, that we might serve Him without fear all the days of our life.
Truly, what problem do we have that God has not already overcome through His Son, born without sin for us? And He is born also in our heart, to take away our sin, to give us the gift of faith, the gift of His Spirit, as He shines in our hearts by His Word.
Zacharias goes on to talk about the Dayspring from on high, that bright and Morning Star. Jesus Christ is that star that outshines everything else, and overcomes all darkness.
We experience the darkness of sin, on a daily basis. We find ourselves saying things, doing things, even just thinking things, we regret. We find ourselves weighed down. We find that sometimes even bridges are burned, and relationships are damaged beyond repair, because of the darkness of sin.
And yes, even the most faithful Christians experience these things. God Himself calls Zacharias a faithful man of God. Yet he doubted God’s promise. He had his moment of sin and unbelief. “My wife and I are old. How can we bring forth a son?” But we don’t need to know the how. God’s promise is all that we need.
And so there were consequences for his moment of doubt. For 9 months he wouldn’t be able to speak one word, or hear one word.
We remember that saying, that sin keeps us longer than we want to stay, and costs us much more then we want to pay. But the good news is that light is come into the world, that Daystar, the bright and Morning Star that outshines everything. It overcomes the darkness of sin and unbelief. The Savior comes, to be born of a lowly virgin, without sin, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And He brings the light of forgiveness, the light of God’s mercy and patience, His longsuffering, as He shines in our hearts, by His Word, by His promise.
We don’t need to cling to our sins, or try to hide them any longer. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This is the light of Christ. The light of knowledge in His forgiveness. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The light of Christ gives us the true and saving faith.
Zacharias also says, The light of Christ guides us into the way of peace. True peace comes from knowing we are forever forgiven. This isn’t the peace of having everything always work out the way we want or expect, but knowing God always has a plan for us, and it is absolutely good. True peace isn’t getting every earthly thing we want for Christmas. True peace comes from knowing God is at peace with us, and that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. We will inherit eternal life because He was born without sin for us.
The light of God’s Word opens our understanding. We too will have moments of doubt like Zacharias. Yet, God will always remain faithful to us, to never leave nor forsake us, even in our moments of doubt. The light of Christ shines brighter. The light of Christ overcomes. God sees us in the light of the perfect life of His Son.
“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.”