Summary: An indepth reflection on the first few verses of Mary’s Magnificat show the source of her joy prior to that First Christmas.
December 25, 2004 Luke 1:46-48
Mary said: My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed.
When the news media showed video tapes of people in Palestine rejoicing at the suicide bombings of 9-11, I was downright angry. The veil was lifted, and their true core was revealed. I thought, there are some people that are just plain butchers. They want nothing more than to destroy America. When I found out that Scott Peterson had dyed his hair and was found with thousands of dollars near the Mexican border, I thought to myself, “he’s got to be guilty.” The same rang true of O.J. Simpson when he was found fleeing from the murder scene.
In all of these cases, I made a judgment on people by the way they REACTED to something. That’s the police constantly do - they examine the reaction of those involved or near a crime. At Christmas, we examine the way someone responds to a gift - do they genuinely seem to appreciate the gift or do they put on a fake smile and say, “oh, thanks,” or do they say nothing at all? Reactions are important to us. They tell us a lot.
Today, we are going to take a look at Mary. She is just given a very wonderful compliment from her cousin Elizabeth - a woman who is much older than she. Usually it is the opposite, but listen to what Elizabeth had to say - Luke 1:42-45 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Now - we look at Mary’s response. Does she say, “yeah, I know I’m good. Get on your knees woman, I’m the chosen one!” Not exactly. As we listen to her talk about herself, we’ll see that -
Mary’s Response Reflects the Truest Christmas Spirit
Obviously, Mary was excited about not only this greeting, but the whole sum of events that had transpired within the last week. She was going to give birth to the Savior of the world. As if it weren’t enough that she was filled with the Holy Spirit, the Son of God also decided to dwell within her womb as well. Anyone who even begins to understand the magnitude of this message cannot - just CANNOT - sit there with a stone face. I don’t care what memories Christmas brings about to you - the times you had with your grandma, spouse, or children - that may make you sad - there just has to be an underlying happiness SOMEWHERE within you. How can’t you at the very least smile at this message? God decided to become man to live and die for you! Yet there are some - I am afraid many - who don’t rejoice at this holiday - because they didn’t get enough gifts or the gifts they wanted. There are some who are angry and refuse to even usher a smile because they aren’t spending it with their family or because they have to work on this Day. There are some who look at coming to worship on this day as a chore rather than an opportunity. Their response to the message betrays what their feelings are toward God’s Son. They are selfish and self centered godless people who have become accustomed to basing their happiness on the things of this world. Christmas to them is not about Jesus - it’s about whether they have off work or not. It’s about family. It’s about gifts.
Mary’s response reflected the truest Christmas spirit. She said, My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Her response was not just a matter of mouthing words that she had learned how to recite. The whole song is a reflection of her knowledge of Scriptures. It is spoken with words. But it went deeper than her mouth or even her brain. It came from her SPIRIT. Martin Luther said that the Christian is made up of three entities. He compared the body to the Old Testament temple. He said the outer courtyard is equal to the body. The holy place is equal to the soul - where the thoughts and emotions of a person resides. He then compared the Most Holy Place to the Spirit within a person. When the Lord did not reside in the Most Holy Place, as is portrayed in God’s leaving of the temple in Ezekiel, the whole worship was then empty and worthless. The Holy Spirit needs to be present - you need to have the Most Holy Place. That’s what Mary was saying - “I’m not just rejoicing with my mouth over the fact that I’m having a baby. I’m rejoicing in my very soul and spirit - this is a very deep and spiritual thing to me! It has hit me in the inmost place - and I can’t help but rejoice at it.” It reminds me of Jesus’ response to those who told the children and people to keep quiet as he marched into Jerusalem. He said, “if they keep quiet - then the rocks will rejoice!” (Luke 19:40) Mary was so struck on the inside by this greeting and everything that had transpired - it struck to her very spirit within.