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Paul J. Bucknell
Purpose of Luke 1:76-80
Luke 1:76-80 serves as an introduction of Christ’s birth and mission given to John the Baptist’s parents where we first catch a glimpse of how that Light, a symbol of hope and truth, enters the world and successfully combats the forms of darkness.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; 77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, 79 TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 And the child continued to grow, and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel. Luke 1:76-80)
God uses the images of light, such as the sunrise, to powerfully convey the power of light over darkness. I remember walking along the east coast many times, whether up on the north coast near Boston or down along Florida. I get up early to see the beautifully sunrises. Before the sun comes up, everything, over where the sun is rising, starts to brighten with a special glow. Jesus is named the Sunrise (a capital “S”).
Prophecies, like this, started raising hope in the people of God. Why was King Herod so suspicious about another king? Because this bright light started glowing, hinting at something greater soon to come. God’s people and others were caught in the changes in the air.
At some point the Sunrise finally does rise, as promised, and brings a golden crown to the world. Think of the contrast with our fireworks display. In a tiny slice of the sky we shoot off spectacular lights and sounds but within 30 minutes, it all gives way to the dark. This is like the world’s philosophies and religions which come and go.
Christ, however, as the Son of God, was the Light. John 1:8 states that John the Baptist was “not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.” Jesus is the Sunrise from on high, from God. The whole world, including its sun, was designed to daily bring hope to our lives, rescuing us from the utter darkness formerly enclosing us, and enable us to live out our lives in His light. We cannot, nor do we want to, live without the sun. Neither can we live without Christ Jesus.
Jesus Christ is the Sunrise from on high that has visited us. Christmas celebrates His visit, His entry into this world. God’s promises of hope in the Old Testament, before Christ came, join Creation’s witness and inject hope that one day the Messiah (Christ) would come. God, beforehand, had committed to bring light into the world, but in Jesus, Light actually came. Since then, darkness has lost its grip upon the world. Oh, it might seem dark in places, but that is because the Christians are like hidden glowing embers, needing to be fanned up into a bright blaze.
So Jesus is called the Sunrise, and we are forced to conclude that without Jesus Christ our world would still be dark. Corruption, death, disease and deceit and diabolical plans not only surround us but are embedded into our being so the scriptures state unequivocally that, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Without Christ, our lives remain in the darkness, stripped from God’s glory, the way God originally created mankind.
Today, we look back and rejoice, affirming Christ’s arrival through His magnificent birth! This is why Christmas, majestic like the sunrise, causes so much wonder. The stars high in the sky directed the Magi from the East to Christ’s birthplace. The angels rang out over the shepherds, declaring God’s visitation to this world.
There was, however, no splashing noise like fireworks, but quietly and surely the Sun came up over the horizon peering into the world of darkness dispersing its presence. Can we not see how God wants to open our eyes to this Light so that we would respond to Him and His purposes? God’s kingdom has come to stay. This thought is elaborated in the next image of light given to us in Luke 1:79.
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988