“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 1:77-79
I’m a surfer. Before I arrived in New York, surfing was an almost daily occurrence. If someone asked me to share my knowledge about surfing, I could describe how to catch a wave, how to paddle, how to stand up and how to ride across a wave, but it would be difficult to give them knowledge of how it feels to ride a wave. Through the conviction and joy of my explanation, I could convey the knowledge of my experience, but there is no amount of education, intellect or understanding of surfing that can compare to the knowledge that comes from actually experiencing the thrill of riding a wave.
This is the kind of knowledge that John the Baptist brought to the people to prepare them for Jesus Christ. The prophecy that came to Zechariah from the Holy Spirit about his son John, the cousin of Jesus, told of a knowledge that flows from the heart. John the Baptist brought the knowledge of the amazing salvation of Jesus Christ. This knowledge came from a personally changed heart – a heart that did an about turn, a life that had experienced transformation through the forgiveness of sins. The knowledge was not second-hand or from a textbook; it was firsthand knowledge gained through an encounter with Christ.
People were drawn to John the Baptist’s message because of the true conviction and passion with which he spoke. It would have been difficult to describe, but people experienced a knowledge like nothing they had ever heard before. It wasn’t the religious teaching of a rabbi or the wisdom of man; it was a message of deep freedom arising from the mercy of God. This knowledge comes from Heaven itself. It’s the kind of knowledge that penetrates the darkest of hearts and minds. It’s the kind of knowledge that comes when we experience a sunrise – a deeper understanding that what we are witnessing is way bigger than our mind can comprehend, and the knowledge we now have from this encounter will never leave us.
It’s difficult to explain away the knowledge of riding a wave or the knowledge of experiencing a sunrise. It’s even more difficult to explain away the knowledge of encountering the Creator of all things and obtaining the knowledge of what Jesus Christ has done for us. When we taste and see how good He is, how amazing His grace is, the knowledge of this salvation changes everything. So now, just like John the Baptist, we prepare the way for people, speaking from a knowledge that comes from our changed hearts, hearts that have experienced a forgiveness so rich and so beautiful that even when we are misunderstood or when the knowledge is not accepted we still know it to be true. We can’t explain away this knowledge. It runs deep – it’s like riding a wave, it’s like seeing the beauty of a sunrise with our own eyes.
May the knowledge of the Gospel, of His great light that eliminates the shadow of death, direct our decisions today. May our feet be led by the knowledge of Jesus Christ into His great peace. This knowledge, although humbling, is not given to harm us but to truly bless us. The knowledge of the Gospel brings a change of heart: where we were blind, now we can see.
// Pastor Josh Kelsey