My grandson is nine months old today. He’s crawling all over the place and learning to stand up by himself, but he’s not ready to climb any mountains with Pops. He’s just not able! Yet . . .
He still needs watchful eyes and loving boundaries, along with supportive learning opportunities and chances to practice his growing physical skill set.
Most of all, he needs someone to take care of him. He can’t fix his own food or change his diaper. He doesn’t know what could hurt him, or how he might hurt himself. He can’t change his clothes to match the temperature outside or inside. He can’t even tell us what he wants, or what might be bothering him when he’s crying! But even with all that neediness (or maybe because of it??), I love my little snuggle bear. More on that later . . .
I’ve started my Christmas month reading, which is a chapter a day from the book of Luke. Luke has 24 chapters, so by the time Christmas Day rolls around, you’ve gotten the whole-picture view of Christ’s life. You remember more of the reasons why his birth was so important, and it brings more depth to the “Reason for the Season!” If you haven’t read it recently, you can do so here.
Have you thought about what Jesus was doing before Gabriel surprised Zechariah in the Temple? John gives us a glimpse in his gospel:
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:1-5 NLT).
Paul also writes about him in his letter to the church in Colosse:
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together” (Colossians 1:15-17)
That’s some serious power and authority. But He gave up his throne out of mercy for us.
“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being” (Philippians 2:6-7).
Mercy is gracious compassion or kindness for someone in need. God’s mercy is mentioned an awful lot in just the first chapter of Luke. Mary mentions it twice in her song of praise:
“He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him” (verse 50).
“He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful” (verse 54).
God was merciful to Elizabeth, giving her a son in her old age.
“When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her” (Luke 1:57-58).
Zechariah’s prophecy after the birth of his son mentions God’s mercy twice, speaking about the coming Savior.
“He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant—the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham” (Luke 1:72-73).
“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).
With so many mentions of mercy in just the first chapter, it must be pretty significant! So why is God’s mercy so important, and what does it mean for us now? Do we still need it today?
The answer lies in verse 77. In the middle of his prophecy concerning the coming Savior, Zechariah speaks a few words to his newborn son: “And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins“ (Luke 1:76-77).
The word “sins” here speaks of falling short and missing the mark. God’s standard of perfection is impossible for us to reach this side of heaven, but He still calls us to it (1 Peter 1:15-16). In God’s judicial system, failure requires punishment (Romans 6:23). You and I are so in need of mercy! We simply can’t do it on our own.
Not only is “mercy” repeated in this chapter, so is the theme of salvation.
“How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” (Luke 1:47, Mary’s song)
“He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us . . . We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live” (Luke 1:69-71, 74-75, Zechariah’s prophecy).
“And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:76-77).
My grandson is not punished for not making his dinner–Mom does it for him. He doesn’t pay for the crime of a dirty diaper–Mom changes it for him. His parents do for him out of love and mercy what he cannot do for himself.
Because He knows our weakness, Jesus came in mercy to save us from the punishment awaiting us, and to make a way for us to be free from what we deserve. We can’t do it on our own, so He came to do it for us! He gave up his throne in heaven to be born as a human, live a perfect, holy life, and die as a criminal in our place. He came to do what we cannot.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
Enjoy Rescue Story by Zach Williams, and thank Jesus for being our Merciful Savior! ♥