Waverly Church of Christ
The Sunrise From On High Has Visited Us
Sunday Morning Lesson
Locations & Times
  • Waverly Church of Christ
    438 W Main St, Waverly, TN 37185, USA
    Sunday 9:00 AM

Sometimes there are things about which you just can’t keep quiet — you have
to tell someone.

That was true all those years ago when Zecharias was allowed to speak once more and he just had to speak out in praise of the Lord for what He had done and was about to do.

On more than one occasion we have sung this hymn written in 1987 by Graham Kendrick:
This morning, as we look at these powerful words which Zecharias spoke in praise of God, let us see . . .

a. First, our plight without Jesus Christ.
b. What God did to change all that.
c. And the great blessings which we who are Christians now have in Christ.
I. More People Than We Can Count Are Sitting In Darkness

Everything that God created was good.

Six times (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) as God created, He saw that what He had brought forth “was good”.

Finally, on the sixth day, we find these words, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Everything was pure, perfectly designed.

The first human beings, Adam and Eve, even enjoyed walking with God in the Garden He had created for them.

There was an innocence that filled their lives.

Satan’s tempted Adam and Eve to violate God’s only restriction in the Garden, the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-6).

Then everything changed — sin entered the world and the innocence was gone.

Since that time all manner of evil has taken root and grown in this once perfect world, because people began “following the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2, ESV) — Satan.

All around us we see all kinds of deception, immorality, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, abuse, murder — the list goes on and on.

It is “the course of this world . . . the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

Truly, we are a people who sit in darkness.

Psalm 107:10 tells us that the reason people dwell “in darkness and in the shadow of death,” the reason they are “prisoners in misery and chains” is that they have “rebelled against the words of God” and rejected His counsel.

All around us there are those who are caught in Satan’s snare, being “held captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26).

Those who remain in such a state have only one fate, an eternal dwelling in “outer darkness” known only for its “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).
II. Thankfully, God Acted On Our Behalf
Paul said that God is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4).

He is “rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4).

It is because “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16) that He acted on our behalf.

He doesn’t want any of us to perish.
Can you imagine how proud Zecharias must have been to speak these words, you, my son, “will be called the prophet of the Most High . . . you will go . . . before the Lord to prepare His ways.”

He was remembering the words of the prophet Malachi, spoken almost 400 years earlier, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me” (Malachi 3:1).

And 300 years before Malachi, the prophet Isaiah had declared, “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.’” (Isaiah 40:3).
That message was one of salvation.

For people who are “sitting in darkness and the shadow of death” there is only one answer — salvation.

It is a salvation which sets them free from “the snare of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:25-26).

It is a message that all of us need today because none of us always do what is right — we are sinners who need to be saved.

The wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23).

It was a message of salvation, “by the forgiveness of sins” (v. 77b).

It was the prophet Isaiah who told God’s people, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).

Only when can God promise “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34), is there no longer a separation between us and Him.

Such a time occurs according to Luke 3:3 with another part of John’s message which included “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”

In other words “the forgiveness of sins” came about as a result of “a baptism of repentance.”

Put another way, there could be no “forgiveness of sins” unless there was first “a baptism of repentance.”

What is repentance?
1) It is a change in our thoughts and attitudes toward sin.
2) It results in a change of action.
3) All the sinful things which we once took pleasure in thinking, saying or doing, we make a conscious decision to avoid.

What is baptism?
1) Immersion in water as an indication of my desire to change.
2) An act which looks to God for the forgiveness of my sins.

This was the message which John declared in preparation for the coming of God’s Anointed One.

It remained the emphasis of Jesus’ disciples even after His ascension back to God, His Father.
III. The Sunrise From On High Has Visited Us

This “Sunrise from on High” is none other than the Word which became flesh (took on human form) and dwelt among us.

In John 1:4, the apostle John wrote of Him, “In His was life, and the life was the Light of men.”

He adds in the very next verse that “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (v. 5, ESV).

When Zecharias spoke these words, he was pulling from the prophet Malachi, who spoke of a time when “the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

Jesus told those who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover, the week of his crucifixion, “I have come as Light into the world so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).

Six months earlier, in John 8:12, Jesus had told those at the Feast of Tabernacles, “I am the Light of the world; He who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

God called us “out of darkness into His marvelous light” so that we can now proclaim His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9).
Jesus came to guide us into the way of peace.

The last recorded words he spoke to the woman in Luke 7, who wet his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair was, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Likewise, the last recorded words he spoke to the woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years and only wanted to touch the fringe of His cloak was “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (Luke 8:48).

To His disciples at the last supper He said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).

It is through our Lord Jesus Christ that those of us who are Christians now have “peace with God” (Romans 5:1).

It is also in Christ Jesus that “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard [our] hearts and minds” (Philippians 4:7) when we find ourselves struggling with anxiety.

As the Lord of peace, Jesus Christ is able to continually grant us peace in every circumstance (2 Thessalonians 3:16).

Both John and Jesus came into this world because of God’s mercy toward us.

John came to prepare the way for God to visit us in the person of Jesus Christ.

He instructed the people of His day about salvation and the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus, however, as the Son of God, went beyond what John could do.

He is our bright guiding light who takes us out of darkness and brings us into God’s way of peace.

John came to proclaim salvation, but Jesus came to carry it out, to save us.

Today, will you come to Jesus Christ, in repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of your sins?

Will you take hold of God’s peace in your life?