Summary: Do you sing with Mary? Do you have that joy this Christmas—are you overwhelmed by the promise of his return, or simply lost in the holiday?
On Sunday June 1, 1975, Darrel Dore was on an oilrig in the Gulf of Mexico. Suddenly it wobbled, tipped to one side, and crashed into the sea, trapping Darrell inside a room on the rig. As the rig sank into the sea the lights went out and the room began to fill with water. Thrashing about in the darkness, Darrel came upon a huge air bubble that was forming in the corner of the room. He thrust his head inside it.
Then a horrifying thought sent a shiver down his spine: "I am buried alive". Darrell began to pray—aloud—and as he did, something remarkable happened. He said later: "I found myself actually talking to Someone. Jesus was there with me. There was no illumination, nothing physical, but I sensed him, a comforting presence. He was real, he was there."
For the next 22 hours, that Presence comforted Darrel. However, the oxygen supply inside the bubble was giving out. Death was inevitable. It was just a matter of time.
Then a remarkable thing happened. Darrel saw a tiny star of light shimmering in the pitch-black water. Was it real, or after 22 hours was he beginning to hallucinate?
Darrel squinted his eyes. The light seemed to grow brighter. He squinted again. He wasn't hallucinating. The light was real. It was coming from a diver's helmet. Someone had found him. His 22-hour nightmare was over. Rescue had come; he was safe.
That true story is a remarkable illustration of what Christmas is all about, and segues wonderfully into our text: The Magnificat, aka Mary’s Song.
1. When she learns they are both with child, young Mary immediately visits her relative Elizabeth, who lives in the hill country of Judea. J. M. Creed suggests that she went to “satisfy herself of the angel’s words”
A. How can Elizabeth be pregnant? She is barren, everyone knows that, and by now she is beyond childbearing age. Mary’s story tops hers easily; she has never even been with a man, yet she is with child!
B. Confused and in a state of shock, she goes to Elizabeth: perhaps for authentication, perhaps for consolation. In any event, her action is appropriate in light of a sign from God—do something!
C. Mary is young, dirt poor and engaged to a man who is not the father of her child. All this in a society unsympathetic to unwed mothers. People will certainly view her as promiscuous: a young girl of no character. Her life will never be the same.
2. She enters Zechariah’s home, greeting Elizabeth. As Elizabeth hears her greeting, the baby leaps in her womb, and Elizabeth is “filled with the Holy Spirit” (41). She explains she knew Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah by the joyous movements of her unborn child in response to Mary’s greeting: Elizabeth responds to this by blessing Mary (42)
A. Blessed are you among women
B. Blessed is the fruit of your womb!
C. Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
D. Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. (i.e., Mary)
E. The word blessed here should be understood the most fortunate. The same word appears in Ju. 5:24 (LXX) and is the superlative form of the adjective. Mary is the most fortunate of all women.
3. Despite her impossible circumstances (socially speaking), Mary rejoices in God’s goodness to her (can you believe it?) and sings a hymn of praise to her Lord. We know this song as The Magnificat. The name comes from the first word of the song in the Latin Vulgate: Magnificat is Latin, and gives us our English word…magnify. Let’s look at the hymn.
[Do you sing with Mary? Do you have that joy this Christmas—are you overwhelmed by the promise of his return, or simply lost in the holiday?]
II. Mary’s Song of Praise (four part structure)
1. Introduction (46b-47) My soul magnifies the Lord…
A. The hymn opens in classic Semitic fashion, suggesting Hebrew or Aramaic origin; songs of praise often begin this way (cf. the Psalms)
B. If you want to see something awesome, cf. Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1. Again, we see the OT in the NT! We should not think the two are independent and unrelated, or that the OT no longer has relevance. Quite the contrary!
2. Stanza 1 (48-50) God changes Mary’s status from lowly to esteemed.
A. He has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; God begins his eschatological exaltation of the lowly, for from now on, the name of Mary will be known to all generations and they will speak of her rich blessing by God.