Reading on into Zechariah's prophecy about his son, and this lines cause somewhat of an emotional response in me:
And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God's tender mercy,
the light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace."
John is always marked by that "forgiveness of sins" thing. These days, with self-righteoussness of many strains of "Christianity", "sin" takes on such a condemning, condescending tone. Most people, when being told they are SINNERS (pound the fist, point the finger) will react defensively. Now if you can't admit your sin, that you are messed up in some way, your ability to move toward being Loving will be crippled, because your just not facing reality. But most people I have met, in a honest moment, will admit that they hurt and have been hurt by people. And I think that is at the heart of what is going on with "forgiveness of sin".
I was listening to Marilyn Manson talk about Satanism once, and I was struck how what most Christians view as the bad parts of Satanism aren't really the really dark parts at all. It is not really the glorification of spiritual darkness and the big show he puts on that is the dangerous part. Manson will point out that Satanists don't even believe in a spiritual being called Satan. The scary part is that he believes humans are perfectly self-sufficient, that we are not broken, and that we don't need any fix from a God or creator. And that we should live for ourselves and reject weakness.
But God seems to require us to be a lot more like the guys in AA. It starts by saying, "I'm John, and I'm messed up. I live for myself, and I hurt other people to do it. But I don't want to be like that anymore." And the good news, what John the Baptist is telling me, is that such an honest moment brings me into the revelation that I am forgiven; that God hasn't been mad at me, but has been wanting to help fix my broken part, help heal my disease. I guess that is what gets me all emotional when I read the part about, "the light from heaven is about to break upon us". It's like, the promise is there, that we can learn how to Love, and to be like God is, and it's just about to happen. That light is just about to break.