Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 4
Thesis: Luke's record of God's successful alteration of Zacharias' innermost Theology is extraordinarily encouraging.
Introduction: Last week we made the claim that Luke was deliberately focused on what we called "identity" issues. One comment that probably needs to go into the record is this: man's greatest need is not clarity on his/her identity but is clarity on God's character. The issue is not who we are or what we are like so much as it is Who God is and What He is like. The name "John" is far more significant than most folks realize in that it sets the stage for a huge world-view shift. In the Gospel of "John" we are told that this world-view shift has to do with the innermost "T"heology of individuals being shifted from the Justice and Judgment of God to the Grace upon Grace of God. Luke's focus in Chapter One is upon God's intention to bring this shift to pass in the hearts of individuals. This morning we are going to look into God's accomplishment of this shift in the heart of one person so that we may see an example of how He succeeds in His desire for individuals to come to the on-going experience of joy.
August 8, 2004
I. God's Method Always Starts with Fear.
- A. Luke's account is a record of fearful people.
- 1. In 1:12-13 Zacharias is described as extraordinarily afraid.
- 2. In 1:30 Mary is described as afraid -- using the same terminology in intensified form in 1:29 as was used in 1:12.
- 3. In 1:65 everyone who hears what happened to Zacharias and Elizabeth were "afraid".
- B. Luke's use of "fear" should not be watered down: fear is fear and it twists the gut and produces high levels of adrenalin so that the limbs begin to tremble if it is of a significant level [Note that at least twice the Bible records adrenalin levels so high that the person passed out -- Daniel and John].
- C. Luke's use of "fear" should also be understood as an indicator of a "T"heologically significant flaw.
- 1. I John 4:18 pointedly says "...he that feareth is not made perfect in love".
- 2. It borders on the ridiculous to say that a person can "believe" in the "grace" of God and be "afraid"...for that is the equivalent of saying "I am afraid of being blessed out of my socks".
- D. Luke's record includes Mary's "inspired" statement that God's "mercy is unto generation after generation of those that 'fear' Him" (1:50).
- 1. This is not a contradiction of what I have said; it is a commentary on the fact that God's method invariably begins with fear on man's part [Note Romans 3:18 and 8:15] for without fear there is nothing to stand up to man's arrogance and depravity. In 1:74 Zacharias says the divine objective is that "we might serve Him without fear".
- 2. This should not be overlooked: the "point" of the Law took 1500 years to "make" and it consisted of bringing man to a state of fear in light of the rupture that existed between God and man.
- II. God's Goal is Always "Joy".
- A. In 1:14 Luke records that the end of God's "method" was to be great joy and rejoicing.
- B. In 1:44 Luke records that the first response of "John" to "Jesus" was "leaping for joy".
- C. In 1:58 Luke records the fulfillment of the angel's promise of 1:14.
- D. In 1:78-79 Luke records Zacharias, in an outburst of Spirit-produced "blessing of God", as saying that we are to come by John's witness to an appreciation of the tender mercy of God...in the way of peace.
- III. God's Method is Always "Faith".
- A. In 1:20 Zacharias is revealed to be a man who is willing to disbelieve God and, consequently, to be a man upon whom God must "work" if he is to come to the predicted joy.
- 1. Zacharias' "fear" was rooted in unbelief and it counter-produced a "lack of fear" in calling God a liar...a great anomaly in which a man's fears drive him to fearlessness in the area where he should be most afraid.
- 2. But, Zacharias was a "believer" -- i.e. a child of God -- so God, rather than being angry with him for his brazenness in disbelief, saw what was twisted inside of him and decided upon a method of correction...a rather significant, but beneficent "discipline".
- B. In 1:45 the Spirit moved Elizabeth to exclaim upon the blessedness of one who "believed".
- C. In our text, Zacharias is presented as "blessing God" as soon as the words of God are fulfilled in his case.
- 1. Luke's focus in 1:64 is upon Zacharias' experience of the fulfillment of the words of God: he goes to some length to tell us that Zacharias could suddenly speak and that his speech was consumed with one thing -- blessing God.
- a. That his "mouth was opened" means he began to speak.
- b. That "even his tongue" was included means he began to speak.
- c. That "he spake" is the third statement of the fact.
- 2. The issue of "blessing" is the issue of speaking to build the reputation of one in the eyes of others.
- 3. Zacharias had been brought out of the long night of his joyless service to a Reluctant Judge into the dawn of the blessedness of the Gracious Giver of Joy and he wanted everyone to understand that his soul had gone through a "T"heological transformation because Yahweh is gracious.