Summary: Mary’s Magnificat, Zecharias’ Benedictus and Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis help us answer our Lord’s question: who do you say that I am?
• 3 different people
• All received news
• All made a response
1. Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:39-56)
News: That she would conceive and bring forth the Son of God (confirmed by her cousin Elizabeth conceiving John the Baptist, the forerunner to the Messiah)
Response: A song of praise to God for fulfilment of His saving promise in her.
1. Part of Evening Prayer in the Church of England Common Book of Prayer.
2. Exhibits Mary’s full acquaintance with Scripture- Genesis (Abraham in 17:7-9), Exodus (10 commandments, 2:6), Job, Psalms (33, 34, 98, 103, 107, 118), Micah, and the song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10). We should imitate Mary, letting "the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16).
3. Shows Mary’s deep humility. Her relationship with God is as of a redeemed sinner to her Saviour. She, like David, "made her boast in the Lord" such that "the humble shall here thereof, and be glad" (Psalm 34:2). If we are to be glad with Mary at the Incarnation, we must come humbly to the Lord and boast in His merits alone- "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14). "A man has just so much Christianity as he has humility," quotes JCR. He continues, "Humility is the grace which is most becoming to human nature."
4. Shows Mary’s lively thankfulness of spirit. Bruce Kuhn leaping in the air! We always have more to thank God about than to be depressed about. In this case, we have our very lives and salvation to thank Him for- "He who is mighty has done great things for me...and His mercy is on those who fear Him" (vv. 49, 50), cf. Philippians 4:6 ("in everything...with thanksgiving"), 1 Thessalonians 5:16 ("rejoice always").
5. Shows how God dealt with people in the past. Humbled: Pharaoh, the Canaanites, Philistines, Sennacherib, Haman, Belshazzar. Exalted: Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Esther, Daniel. We see in this pattern that the very lowliness of Mary made a her suitable choice for God- "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise..." (1 Corinthians 1:27). If we make a careful study of Bible characters, they will "teach us what to expect, check unwarrantable expectations, and encourage us when cast down. Happy is that man whose mind is well stored with such knowledge. It will make him patient and hopeful."
[We know that God’s dealing in this case is great- His finger (production of lice), His hand (the other Egyptian miracles), His out-stretched arm (redeemed the children of Israel from Egypt). "The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God" (Isaiah 5210). Wise men and shepherds. Jew & Gentile.]
6. Shows Mary’s grasp of Bible promises. In verse 65 she is recollecting God’s promise to Abraham that "in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 22:18). Abraham’s seed is Christ (Galatians 3:16) and Christ is born of Mary. God keeps his promises, even if it takes 4000 years from the first Messianic prophecy (Genesis 3:15) to the birth of the Messiah. Some of God’s promises to us:
• He will forgive our sins if we confess them (1 John 1:9)
• He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)
• He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6)
• If we seek His kingdom and His righteousness, all these things (necessities of daily living) will be added to us (Matthew 6:33)
• He will save whoever calls on His name (Romans 10:13)
• His Son is coming back (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
2. Zacharias’ Benedictus (Luke 1:67-80)
News: The birth of his son, John the Baptist, the forerunner to the Saviour.
Response: His first reaction as soon as he was freed from dumbness was to praise God! He also made a prophecy which commissioned his son’s own prophetic ministry.
• "The last prophecy of the Old Dispensation and the first of the New" (Farrar)
• This is inspired by the Holy Spirit (67)
Thanksgiving for the Messiah (68-70)
68. "What is man that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8:4, Hebrews 2:6). Bob. Redeeming- buying back at a high price. A Tale of Two Cities analogy (p. 327).
69. ’Horn’ is a symbol of strength, cf. God’s outstretched arm. "He will give strength to his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed" (1 Samuel 2:10). In Zion "will I make the horn of David to bud" (Ps. 132:17).