Our human inclination is to listen without faith. This can only lead us to the brow of a cliff and throwing Jesus out of our lives. But the Savior of the Nations comes with his gracious words of redemption and membership in his body. The Word of the Lord is proclaimed through the revelation of his Anointed One. In him faith is rooted, love flourishes, and salvation is known from generation to generation.
In today’s Gospel and sermon, we see that the gracious words of the Anointed One win admiration but not hearts of faith. When confronted by their own unbelief and the inclusion of Gentiles in spiritual Israel, “Joseph’s son” is driven from the synagogue to be thrown from the cliff. Yet the Savior of the nations passes through the angry mob to continue his mission and reveal himself in Capernaum.
Jesus reveals himself as the Anointed one with the Father’s authority to proclaim himself as fulfillment of prophecy. The Word made flesh points to the Word and boldly proclaims, “Fulfillment.” This bold proclamation carries joy to the very heart of the body of Christ and emboldens its members to proclaim the same.
Jesus comes as the invited guest to reveal the splendor of his glory. As we behold his glory, we delight in our bridegroom. For he delights in us, bringing to us his righteous deliverance, the strength of his Spirit, and the divine dimensions of his immeasurable love.
The long-expected Christ has arrived; the waiting is over as the Son of David is anointed. The Father’s approval sounds from heaven and book-ends the season of Epiphany, when, with the Holy Spirit and with power, it thunders again on the Mount of Transfiguration as the Son is revealed in glory.
The Eastern Church celebrates January 6th as the Nativity of our Lord. For the West, the Epiphany of Our Lord is the continued celebration of the birth of the Savior of Nations. So bright is the dawning of the Son, so great is the fullness of his glory, that his light not only fills the dark streets of Bethlehem, but the ends of the earth. Jew and Gentile alike gather to worship him who is born ruler of Judah and Shepherd of all Israel.
Zechariah had learned to trust God’s promises. After months of silence, he bursts forth to sing of God’s promises kept (note the aorists!) Blessed be the God of Israel who has come to redeem his people. The struggle with sin of spiritual Israel was over. Salvation has come just as the LORD, the God of free and faithful grace, had sworn by his own name. With the joy of salvation and the confidence of promises fulfilled, we fearlessly serve the LORD in righteousness.