It is interesting that Luke bookends a similar idea in his gospel. In Luke 2 Luke records Zechariah’s prophecy and in verse 70 Zechariah can say, in reference to the advent of the Messiah, ‘As He (God) spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the World began.’ Clearly Zechariah is teaching us here that the Scriptures of the Old Covenant spoke of and taught Jesus the Messiah, and that from the very beginning.
Luke makes this same observation again at the end of His gospel (24:27) when he records Jesus, following His resurrection, leading a bible study on the road to Emmaus with two disciples who had missed how the redemptive events were spoken of in the Old covenant Scriptures.
It is obvious that Luke is telling us that the old covenant Scriptures, were, in the phrase of the Puritans, ‘the cradle where one would find Christ.’ All the Scriptures, from Genesis 3:15f are first and foremost about Christ and tell God’s story of how He does all the work in redeeming a people of His own choosing to be their covenant faithful God. We do a great disservice to Scripture when we use it to cram God into our story instead of seeing that God uses Scripture to tell His story — a story that the redeemed are swept up into as so many leaves are swept up into a tornado. God’s story is objective but as men, in each generation, are placed into its storyline by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, that objective story continues to change everything in its path in each generation.
Zechariah was part of Redemptive History. His prophecy was part of God’s objective story of God’s raising up a horn of salvation for His people (2:69). His recognition that all of Scripture was teaching the story of Christ is our good news. BUT Zechariah also understands that this good news is done for a couple of purposes. The first purpose was so that God would be seen as faithful to His promises and covenant (vs. 72). The second purpose was that God’s people might serve Him without fear (vs. 74).
In God’s story when God provides salvation, one purpose of that provision is that God’s people might live in a covenantal faithfulness that echos back God’s covenantal faithfulness to His name and His people. When God’s elect are swept up into His story it is always with the consequence of having been freely saved they will now freely serve according to God’s standards.
Calvin can say at this point on this idea,
“Zechariah’s point was, that, being redeemed, they might dedicate and consecrate themselves entirely to the Author of their salvation. As the efficient cause of human salvation was the undeserved goodness of God, so its final cause is, that, by a godly and holy life, men may glorify his name.”
Calvin then goes on to talk about our responsibility to live a life of service to God, citing the abundant scripture that teaches this truth and ends by saying,
Scripture is full of declarations of this nature, which show that we “frustrate the grace” (Gal. 2:21) of Christ, if we do not follow this design.”
So Zechariah’s Benedictus (Luke 2:67-79) teaches us that God does all the saving but also that those who are saved serve God in every area that God has dominion over. We do disservice to this idea when we do one of three things,
1.) Forget that the Scriptures are first and foremost about God’s work of doing all the saving.
2.) Forget that Scripture do not end with souls saved but rather speak clearly of what the redeemed life looks like in every area of life.
3.) Invert the order so that we do not realize that #2 is always the consequence of #1 being rightly set forth and so speak as if #1 is dependent upon number 2.