Luke 1:76-79 :
And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the dawn from on high will visit us,
to shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death;
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Here we read that John the Baptist was sent by God to Israel to teach them about salvation “by the remission of their sins.” Some in Israel were looking for the salvation through a conquering King. The Holy Spirit through Zacharias was predicting a different kind of salvation.
“Remission” is a word for forgiveness that can also relate to a payment of work that is removed. Israel knew all about the work that God required. God had used them write down and maintain His laws. In the Law of Moses, there were many rules about bringing sacrifices that were required as payment for sin. This payment for sin and the labor of sacrifice was to be taken away by the one that John the Baptist was to make people ready for.
The use of symbolism in this prophesy helps us to understand what Jesus was doing. The dawn is a clear sign of a whole day. It isn’t the full day, but it is the start of the day. Jesus coming to bring salvation from sin was the dawn or start of His time, not the completion of His time. This is still Jesus’ time and it hasn’t ended yet. He has visited us and has shone on us as we sat in the darkness of the shadow of death, and every day He guides us into the way of peace. It’s a wonderful thing to participate in this new life as a Gentile. What a good time it was when John was sent to bring the good news of God’s salvation from sin to Israel.