The Trinity in Scripture: Luke 1 (Part 2)

Luke continues to present the work of the Trinity in preparation of the incarnation:

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered 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 before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:67-79

Everything that Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, says is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit within him moving him to prophesy. In this proclamation of praise the Holy Spirit moves Zechariah to exult the work of the Father and the Son.

The Father is identified as the Lord God of Israel (1:68). Interestingly, the Zechariah declares that the Father spoke by the mouth of the prophets. This is certainly congruent with typical Old Testament thought. It is only later in the history of redemption that the role of the Holy Spirit in inspiration is made explicit. The Father, as he was in Luke’s first reference to the Trinity (1:32, 35), is again called “the Most High.” This is a title that Luke seems particularly fond of. It is found 9 times in the New Testament, with 7 of the uses by Luke (Mark 5:7; Luke 1:32,35,76; 6:35; 8:28; Acts 7:48; 16:17; Hebrews 7:1).

The Son is identified picturesquely as the “horn of salvation” (1:69) and “the sunrise from on high” (1:78), and more traditionally as “Lord” (1:76). What does Zechariah know and believe of this Lord? What does he comprehend of his relationship to the Most High God? These are curiosities that we are left to wonder at. What we do see is that already among God’s people, there is an expectation for God to act on their behalf in the person whose body was still being prepared in the Virgin’s womb.

In the first chapters of Luke’s gospel Zechariah’s speech functions as a natural progression from the Trinity at Jesus’ conception to the Trinity at Jesus’ manifestation in chapter 2: which we will see in the next post in this series.

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