on Luke 1 :68
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for, etc. - Zacharias praises God for two grand benefits which he had granted to his people. 1. He has visited them. 2. He has ransomed them.
1. He speaks by the spirit of prophecy, which calls things that are not, as though they were; because they are absolutely determined by the Most High, and shall be all fulfilled in their season. God visits his people in the incarnation of Jesus Christ; therefore this Christ is called by him, Κυριος ὁ Θεος, Jehovah the God of Israel. Here the highest and most glorious character of the Supreme Being is given to Christ.
2. This God redeems his people: it is for this end that he visits them. His soul is about to be made a sacrifice for sin: he becomes flesh, that he may suffer and die for the sin of the world. God, by taking upon him the nature of man, has redeemed that nature from eternal ruin.
He hath - redeemed - Εποιησε λυτρωσιν, he hath made a ransom - laid down the ransom price. Λυτροω signifies particularly to ransom a captive from the enemy, by paying a price. The following remarkable passage from Josephus, Ant. b. xiv. c. 14, sect. 1, fully illustrates this meaning of the original. "Herod, not knowing what had happened to his brother, hastened λυτρωσασθαι, to ransom him from the enemy, and was willing to pay λυτρον ὑπερ αυτου, a ransom for him, to the amount of three hundred talents." Sinners are fallen into the hands of their enemies, and are captives to sin and death. Jesus ransoms them by his own blood, and restores them to life, liberty, and happiness. This truth the whole Bible teaches: this truth God has shown in certain measures, even to those nations who have not been favored with the light of his written word: for Christ is that true light, which enlightens every man that cometh into the world.
How astonishing is the following invocation of the Supreme Being, (translated from the original Sanscreet by Dr. C. Wilkins), still existing on a stone, in a cave near she ancient city of Gya, in the East Indies!
"The Deity, who is the Lord, the possessor of all, appeared in this ocean of natural beings, at the beginning of the Kalee Yoog (the age of contention and baseness). He who is omnipresent and everlastingly to be contemplated, the Supreme Being, the Eternal One, the Divinity worthy to be adored - Appeared here with a Portion of his Divine Nature. Reverence be unto thee in the form of (a) Bood-dha! Reverence be unto the Lord of the earth! Reverence be unto thee, an Incarnation of the Deity, and the Eternal One! Reverence be unto thee, O God, in the form of the God of mercy; the dispeller of pain and trouble, the Lord of all things, the Deity who overcometh the sins of the Kalee Yoog; the guardian of the universe, the emblem of mercy toward those who serve thee - (b) O'M! the possessor of all things in Vital Form! Thou art (c) Brahma, Veeshnoo, and Mahesa! Thou art Lord of the universe! Thou art under the form of all things, movable and immovable, the possessor of the whole! and thus I adore thee. Reverence be unto the Bestower Of Salvation, and the Ruler of the faculties! Reverence be unto thee, the Destroyer of the Evil Spirit! O Damordara, (d) show me favor! I adore thee, who art celebrated by a thousand names, and under various forms, in the shape of Bood-dha, the God of Mercy! Be propitious, O Most High God!" - Asiatic Researches, vol. i. pp. 284, 285.
(a) Bood-dha. The name of the Deity, as author of happiness.
(b) O'M. A mystic emblem of the Deity, forbidden to be pronounced but in silence. It is a syllable formed of the Sanscreet letters a, o o, which in composition coalesce, and make o, and the nasal consonant m. The first letter stands for the Creator, the second for the Preserver and the third for the Destroyer. It is the same among the Hindoos as יהוה Yehovah is among the Hebrews.
(c) Brahma, the Deity in his creative quality. Veeshnoo, he who filleth all space, the Deity in his preserving quality. Mahesa, the Deity in his destroying quality. This is properly the Hindoo Trinity: for these three names belong to the same Being. See the notes to the Bhagvat Geeta.
(d) Damordara, or Darmadeve, the Indian God of Virtue.
on Luke 1 :68
Blessed - See the notes at Matthew 5:3.
Hath visited - The word here rendered "visited" means properly "to look upon;" then to look upon in order "to know the state of anyone;" then to visit for the purpose of "aiding those who need aid," or alleviating misery. Compare Matthew 25:43. In this sense it is used here. God "looked upon" the world - he saw it miserable - he came to relieve it, and brought salvation.
And redeemed - That is, was "about to redeem," or had given the pledge that he "would redeem." This was spoken under the belief that the Messiah, "the Redeemer," was about to appear, and would certainly accomplish his work. The literal translation of this passage is, "He hath made a "ransom" for his people. A "ransom" was the "price" paid to deliver a captive taken in war. A is a prisoner taken in war by B. B has a right to detain him as a prisoner by the laws of war, but C offers B a "price" if he will release A and suffer him to go at liberty. The price which he pays, and which must be "satisfactory" to B - that is, be a "reason" to B why he should release him is called a "price" or "ransom." Men are sinners. They are bound over to just punishment by the law. The law is holy, and God, as a just governor, must see that the law is honored and the wicked punished; but if anything can be done which will have the same "good effect" as the punishment of the sinner, or which will be an "equivalent" for it - that is, be of equal value to the universe - God may consistently release him.
If he can show the same hatred of sin, and deter others from sinning, and secure the purity of the sinner, the sinner may be released. Whatever will accomplish "this" is called a "ransom," because it is, in the eye of God, a sufficient "reason" why the sinner should not be punished; it is an equivalent for his sufferings, and God is satisfied. The "blood of Jesus" - that is, his death in the place of sinners constitutes such a ransom. It is in their stead. It is for them. It is equivalent to their punishment. It is not itself a "punishment," for that always supposes "personal crime," but it is what God is pleased to accept in the place of the eternal sufferings of the sinner. The king of the "Locrians" made a law that an adulterer should be punished with the loss of his eyes. His "son" was the first offender, and the father decreed that his son should lose one eye, and he himself one also. This was the "ransom." He showed his "love," his regard for the honor of his law, and the determination that the guilty should not escape. So God gave his Son a "ransom" to show his love, his regard to justice, and his willingness to save people; and his Son, in his death, was a ransom. He is often so called in the New Testament, Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:12. For a fuller view of the nature of a ransom, see the notes at Romans 3:24-25.
on Luke 1 :68