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First, but Second

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of David His servant—
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—
Salvation from our enemies,
imageAnd from the hand of all who hate us;
To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.

—Luke 1:68–79

Roman Catholics worship saints.* While Protestants scoff, we often hold our revered ones too highly. Worse, we often think too highly of ourselves. Let us be reminded that the only thing that gives any of us significance† is the same thing that gave John the Baptist significance.


There were two parts to Zechariah’s blessing. First, he blessed God for the visitation of his salvation (Luke 1:68–75). Then he blessed his newborn son (Luke 1:76–79). The order is significant. In spite of his fatherly pride, Zechariah recognized the subordinate position of his son. John was the last the last and greatest prophet of the old covenant, but what made him great was his relationship to Jesus. He was first in the birth order, but second in significance. Zechariah understood this, so his benediction was mainly for Jesus. Nevertheless, John had an important part to play in the coming of salvation, so he too received a blessing.

—Philip Ryken, The Incarnation in the Gospels (P&R Publishing, 2008), 95.

* Yes, I know: dulia, latria, blah, blah, blah. Prayer is worship. Period.

† Including unbelievers who, as bearers of the imago Dei, glorify God one way or another.

Posted 2013·12·16 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Christmas · Gospel of Luke · Philip Ryken · Soli Deo Gloria · The Incarnation in the Gospels

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