Summary: Mary rejoiced in God, her Savior. That’s where we want our Christmas joy to come from as well. Parts: A. Recognize our lowliness. B. Rejoice in his greatness.
Text: Luke 1:39-55
Theme: Mary’s Secret for a Merry Christmas
A. Recognize our lowliness
B. Rejoice in his greatness
Season: Advent 4c
Date: December 20, 2009
Web page: http://hancocklutheran.org/sermons/Mary_s-Secret-for-a-Merry-Christmas-Luke1_39-55.html
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit works humble faith in our hearts is Luke 1
"Getting up at that time, Mary quickly went to the hill country, to a town, Juda. She entered the house of Zachariah and greeted Elisabeth. It happened that as Elisabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She called out with a great shout and said, "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. How has this happened to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby leaped for joy in my womb. Blessed is she who has believed. For the fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord will happen."
"And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior, since he has looked on the lowly condition of his slave. For behold, from now on all generations will consider me blessed.
""For the mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is his name. His mercy is from generation to generation for those who fear him.
""The strength in his arm acted. He scattered those who were proud in the thinking of their hearts. He threw down the mighty from thrones and lifted up the lowly. He filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he sent away empty.
""He has come to help his servant Israel in order to remember his mercy to Abraham and to his seed forever, just as he said to our fathers."(Luke 1:39-55")
Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:
Are you going to have a holly, jolly Christmas? Is it the best time of the year for you? It looks as if we’ll have snow and maybe a cup of cheer. So much focus goes into lifting spirits, making ourselves happy, making others happy, wishing a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Colored lights shine into the darkness. Decorations brighten homes. The merry laughter of family and friends enlivens gatherings. The aromas of food and drink perk up the senses. Nativity scenes look so beautiful. Carols fill the air. All kinds of people gather for worship on that most holy night. Good will and cheer overflow as the needy are helped and some little child is welcomed in, warmed with a special Christmas. We’re all one big, happy family. At least that’s the ideal merry Christmas portrayed in Norman-Rockwellian America.
But it’s all an illusion, dear friends. Let’s listen, as Mary, the mother of our Lord, shares the secret of a truly merry Christmas.
A. Recognize our lowliness
1. What did Mary confess about herself?
Contrary to common sense, a truly merry Christmas does not come from trying to lift up your spirits. And it doesn’t come from trying to lift up others, no matter how altruistic and unselfish your motives might be. A truly merry Christmas begins by recognizing our lowliness.
Notice how Mary confesses her lowliness. "He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant" (Luke 1:48 NIV). Mary isn’t glorying in her humility as some boast of how humble they are. She means what she says. She’s utterly amazed at what the Lord had done for her in her lowly position. In fact, the word translated "servant" is the Greek word for a female slave. She had no claim on God’s favor. She was just a lowly slave, having nothing to her own credit, but owing everything to her Master, to her God.
She’s called blessed, not because of anything in her person, not even because of her humbleness. Think of that word blessed. It means she’s the recipient of divine favor. God has done great things for her despite her lowly condition. The word points us away from her actions or efforts. She’s simply the receiver. God has done the actions. He’s the doer.
Why did God shower such blessing on her? Was it to reward her humbleness? Was it in view of the good she would do as the Savior’s mother? Was it due to your virtue and virginity? Wouldn’t all those answers contradict her confession of lowliness? Before the holy God, she had no claim on his blessing. So why, then, did God bless her?
2. Why did God bless her despite her lowliness?
In a word, because of his mercy. Mary praises God’s mercy. "His mercy extends to those who fear him" (Luke 1:50 NIV). "He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful" (Luke 1:54 NIV). Think of blind Bart begging outside of Jericho. He had nothing to offer Jesus, not a penny to his name. He couldn’t even see Jesus. But when he hears that Jesus was in the crowd passing by, he shouts out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mark 10:47 NIV). Even when others scold him and tell him to be quiet, he just shouts more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mark 10:48 NIV). He knows his lowly condition. Jesus owes him nothing. He can offer nothing payment. He simply pleads for mercy. Mercy sees the lowly condition and freely reaches out to help.