I love learning what words mean. Today I learned the word “whereby”, I’ve heard it before, and probably used it before, but I’ve never actually known what it meant. It’s an important word, especially in Luke chapter 1 verse 78.
Verse 78 comes at the close of the chapter, where we are introduced to Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is part of the prophecy that Zechariah speaks over John after he is born. He rightly identifies John as the forerunner to Christ, and proclaims that he will be the one to declare the coming salvation of the Lord. Let’s look at verse 78, as well as 76, 77 and 79:
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.
Whereby means “by which” and is important because it tells us what the mercy of God produces:
And this is no ordinary light, it is light that leads out of death and darkness, and into peace and life. It is the light of Christ.
This same light is spoken of in John 1:4-5:
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Christ is the light. He is the light that comes down into the darkness of this world to bring his people out of the slavery of death and into the freedom of eternal life.
This is done through God’s great mercy. Mercy that pardons guilty sinners by the blood of the innocent Lamb. Mercy that gives life to those deserving death. Mercy that gives new hearts and transforms lives.
God’s mercy brings light through Christ who is our life.
This is the way the New Testament begins, with a promise of a shining light that pierces the darkness, and the promise of mercy whereby the Son rises to light the way along the path to peace.