Summary: Mary reacted with praise to Elizabeth's welcome of her and the Savior within her womb. In her praise, she teaches us to praise God for: 1. Doing great things for us. 2. Giving mercy to those who fear him, and 3. Keeping his promises.
Christmas Music 1: Mary’s Song
Luke 1:46-55 December 9, 2018
What is it like to be a part of God’s over-arching plan? To be used for supernatural purposes? The Christmas story begins with a young peasant girl from a backwards village. Mary was probably a teenager when she found out she was pregnant. Pregnant and unmarried! Who would understand? Elizabeth, that’s who! Mary’s elderly cousin Elizabeth had also found herself in a questionable pregnancy. One cousin in the youth group and one at Blue Skies East! And both used by God in miraculous ways. Elizabeth would give birth to John the Baptizer, the forerunner of Jesus. And Mary, of course, would give birth to our Savior.
Here’s the context for today’s scripture: Mary has just arrived at her cousin’s house. Elizabeth reacts in great joy, as her unborn son summersaults in her womb! Elizabeth shouts how blessed she is to be in the presence of her Savior, even as this Savior is yet unborn.
In today’s scripture, Mary reponds in song to Elizabeth’s amazing joy. Mary’s song is called the “Magnificat,” which is the first word in the Latin translation. “Magnificat” means “glorifies,” as in, “My soul glorifies the Lord...”
Mary’s song is a song of praise. It’s one of a handful of songs in the gospel of Luke we’ll look at on the way to Christmas. Mary borrows heavily from Hannah’s song in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 2:1-10), when God allowed Hannah to become pregnant with the great prophet and priest Samuel. Mary also borrows from other Old Testament phrases. She obviously knows her Bible.
In her song, Mary praises God for three specific things. And she models for us how we should praise God as well. First,
Praise God for...
1. Doing great things for you (vv. 46-49)
That’s what Mary reminds us to do. She says in that famous line in verse 48, “From now on all generations will call me blessed.” Why will they do such a thing? She tells us in the very next verse: “for the Mighty One has done great things for me.” Mary does what we talked about the Sunday before Thanksgiving: she counts her blessings. She remembers what all God has done for her. Her blessed state comes from her Heavenly Blesser.
Do you know why Mary is so thankful? Because she is so humble, that’s why. Here’s this young woman who has spent her short lifetime loving God and recognizing how much God loves her. Now God chooses to do something completely new, to send his long-anticipated Messiah, and he has chosen to put that Messiah in her womb. That is new. That is mind-blowing! And it is something that causes Mary to praise God. Because she knows Christmas is not about her. It’s about the Savior, the one who will be born to her. God is doing great things for her, and she gives God praise.
What about you? Do you recognize all the wonderful things God has done for you? “Well, the food here is too bland!” At least you have food. “I don’t like my neighbor.” God has given you a royal opportunity to practice loving those who may not love you back. As you look for the good, as you hunt down the blessings, you will find them. I am reminded of this poem that you’ve probably heard before:
I asked God to take away my pain. God said, No.
It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. God said, No.
Her spirit was whole, her body was only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No.
Patience is a by-product of tribulations; it isn't granted, it is earned.
I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No.
I give you blessings. Happiness is up to you.
I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.
I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No.
You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No.
I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.
I asked God to help me love others, as much as He loves me.
God said... Ahhhh, finally you have the idea. [Anonymous]
Look for the good. Praise God for doing great things for you. Secondly, praise God for...
2. Giving mercy to those who fear him (50-53)
Mary says, in verse 50, “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” God promises his mercy to anyone who reveres his name, anyone who takes him seriously. This is going to be an important qualifier, as Mary speaks next about how God brings his mercy to the most unlikely of people.