Summary: Second in a series of messages based on the Magnificat of Mary
INTRODUCTION: Let me share with you some of famous firsts that have happened throughout history.
Virginia Dare 1587 --- 1st child born in the American colonies, on August 18th, on what is now Roanoke Island, North Carolina.
André-Jacques Garnerin 1797 --- 1st parachute jump. Dropped from about 6,500 ft. over Monceau Park in Paris in a 23-ft.-diameter parachute made of white canvas with a basket attached (Oct. 22).
Charles Blondin (Jean Francois Gravelet) 1859 --- 1st person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope
Jesse James 1873 --- committed the world’s first train robbery on July 21. (Adair, Iowa)
Herbert Hoover 1874 --- 1st US President born west of the Mississippi Annie Moore 1892 --- 1st immigrant to pass through Ellis Island. She was 15 years old and from County Cork, Ireland
Alexander Winton 1903 --- set the 1st land speed record in car racing. Set at Daytona Beach, his speed was 68.18 mph.
Arthur R. Eldred 1912 --- 1st boy to reach the rank of Eagle Scout -- the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America program. He was of Oceanside, NY.
Dolly, the lamb 1996 --- 1st cloned mammal.
And Mary the mother of Jesus was the First to carry the Gospel
This is the first and only time in recorded history that the Holy Spirit of God was the source of conception for a child, in this case the Son of God, Jesus. There is nothing sinful, nothing sensual or obscene about the occasion. Luke tells us that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” (1:35)
The story of the virgin birth is recorded only in Matthew and Luke. But what purpose does the story serve - why is it important for us to know today? Let’s look at some answers to those questions.
I. WHY THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION?
The Catholic church has always considered Mary’s pregnancy an immaculate conception. This means that there was no human father for impregnation and conception to take place. In this sense, the virgin birth became an affirmation to the uniqueness of Jesus. His followers believed that Jesus was God’s son, different from any person who had ever lived or who would appear.
The story of the virgin birth traced this uniqueness back to the beginning, showing that God and God alone was responsible for his birth.
The story also shows us that God’s son had actually been born of a human mother and had entered the world as a real human being. From the moment of his conception Jesus developed as any other child and he entered the world through completely normal human processes.
This served to refute the influence of teachers in later years who argued that the divine Christ had no real identity as a human being. This idea formed the basis of Gnostic Christology which challenged Christianity in the second century, but began its formation in the first century. The story of the virgin birth said in unmistakable terms that the human Jesus and the divine Christ were one in the same.
II. WHY THE MAGNIFICAT?
Verses 46 to 55 comprise a song that is titled in the Latin, “Magnificat,” which means ‘to magnify’, in other words to praise, laud, extol, to hold up for great respect. The title comes from the first line of the song where Mary says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” which is the King James translation.
The Magnificat is patterned after Hannah’s song of rejoicing and praise in 1 Samuel. It is a hymn of rejoicing about the coming Messiah and tells us the significance of Jesus’ birth. It weaves together different parts of the Old Testament and can be divided into two parts. Today we will focus on the first part which is Mary’s praise for the blessings that God has given her.
Mary, in her lowliness, represents a humble and oppressed people, the Jewish nation under the domination of the Roman government. What God has done for Mary he is also doing for Israel - giving her and the nation a Savior.
Magnifies means to praise God by declaring his greatness. God’s demonstration of power on behalf of his handmaiden, Mary, is a manifestation of His character as the Savior or Deliverer.
III. THE SONG OF THE HEART
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.” (1:46)
This is a hymn of praise to God’s power and mercy and is inspired by the promised birth of Jesus. This virgin birth is evidence of God’s faithfulness to his own character in that he will pour out his mercy on those who fear him from generation to generation.
Mary begins by telling God that she praises Him from the depths of her soul. I learned a long time ago, when I was minoring in music in college, that there are different ways that we can sing with our voices.