Summary: Mary rejoices because of God’s power to change the unchangeable.
Today we continue our series in the Songs of Christmas. Today’s song is the most famous of the five songs recorded in Scripture at announcement of Christ’s birth. The song is Mary’s Song, often called the Magnificat, the Latin word that begins Mary’s praise.
A song can change the world.
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Just twenty years ago, a country broke away from their domination by the Soviet Union in a bloodless revolution called The SINGING Revolution. It was the early days of the END of COMMUNISM in Europe. One of the first countries to break free was ESTONIA. From 1987, a cycle of mass demonstrations featuring spontaneous singing eventually collected 300,000 Estonians in the national capital to sing national songs and hymns that were strictly forbidden during the years of the Soviet occupation. This peaceful rally would be huge in any country, but it was especially large in Estonia where it represented 1/4 of the country’s population!
The Singing Revolution lasted over four years, with various protests and acts of defiance. In 1991, People acted as human shields to protect radio and TV stations from the Soviet tanks. People held hands and sang Estonian national songs that had been banned by the Soviets for decades.
And just last year singing of certain songs was banned in Syria. During the beginning of the Syrian uprising in the summer of 2011, Ibrahim Kashush was singing songs in Syrian squares — songs of protest. “Come on, Bashar, get lost,” he sang. “Take your brother Maher and take off. Get lost, get lost. Freedom is very near.”
The Asaad regime slit his throat, cut out his vocal cords, and threw his body into a river. All because of fear of a song.
(Jay Nordlinger, National Review Online, “The danger of song,” August 4, 2011 )
Song’s can be a dangerous thing!
Mary’s Song is a revolutionary song!
It was the very first Christmas Carol
But it was also a revolutionary song. Dr. E. Stanley Jones, the great Methodist scholar, author and evangelist, said that the Magnificat was “the most revolutionary document in the history of the world.”
That’s quite a statement to make, isn’t it? But consider this. Years before Dr. Jones made that statement, William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury, instructed his missionaries to India never to read the Magnificat in public when unbelievers were present. Why? Because in a country like India with all its poverty, this portion of Scripture, if taken out of context, would cause nothing but trouble.
(Ray Pritchard, “Jesus the Revolutionary,” Dec. 1991)
Let’s examine the words of her song.
Luke 1:46–55 (NIV84)
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”
Mary rejoices because of God’s power to change the unchangeable.
THIS is REVOLUTIONARY!
Mary’s song consists of two main parts. The first is her personal reflection on God’s work in her own life. Mary speaks in the first person and blesses God for the mighty things that he has done in her life. In this first part, Mary describes God’s Power to Change ME.
The division between the first and second section occurs after verse 50. The second section is the revolutionary part because it is here that Mary addresses the prophetic promises of Christ’s ultimate work to establish his kingdom and bring in righteousness. Mary’s words become stronger, with a sense of God’s coming judgment. She sings this part of her song in the third person and uses the future tense, so sure of the coming rule of righteousness that she speaks as if it has already happened. In this part of the song, Mary describes God’s Power to Change the WORLD.
Let’s examine both parts of this powerful song.
Part 1. God’s Power to Change ME.
This section is contained in verses Luke 1:46-49. The key is verse 49. “For the mightyone has done great things for ME.” “Mighty one” is possibly a reference to “El Shadai” so frequently used in the Old Testament.