“…the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Watching the sun rise is a beautiful sight. As you stand in the darkness you look off into the distance and see an orange glow appear over the horizon. And at that moment, though you are in darkness you know that the light is coming and will be here soon. That’s what Zechariah felt when his son John the Baptist was born. He lived in darkness but he saw the dawn of redeeming light.
Do you know what it is to live in darkness? It’s a time when everything in your life is shaded over with gray. It turns your life into a gloomy and discouraging routine that will never end and it becomes impossible to see good in anything. Zechariah too felt this gloom because he felt that God had left His people to suffer under the foreign oppression of the Romans. He also felt this gloom in a personal way because he and his wife were unable to have children and they suffered shame among their neighbours and relatives.
The darkness in Judea and in Zechariah’s life blinds him to the promises of God. The angel Gabriel tells Zechariah that his own son “will go on before the Lord” and that he will “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” But when the angel Gabriel tells Zechariah this good news, Zechariah could not believe that any good could come to his dark life, so he couldn’t believe this good news.
After nine months, though, the angel’s words come true and Zechariah finds himself holding his newborn son just as the angel said. As Zechariah holds this baby in his arms he remembers the angel’s words and he gains a new perspective on his life and on the world. Now he looks back to all the promises that God gave already in the Old Testament and he sees that they are being fulfilled in his lifetime. God’s promises from the past give him assurance for the present time and bright hope for the future. When his son is born, Zechariah believes that his son will prepare God’s people for the day that Jesus will come to shine on those living in darkness and guide them in the path of peace.
On Christmas Day we celebrate the day that God put us on the path of peace, where the light of Jesus shines in our lives. So though it may seem dark in the world today, we can celebrate with hope this Christmas because we look back at all God’s promises fulfilled at the birth of Jesus Christ and look forward to all the promises he still gives us in this life with him on the path of peace.