Summary: Mary’s soul magnified the Lord at the sign of His coming to institute a revolution of love!
“Mary’s Song” Luke 1:46-55
“A Call to Revolution: Mary’s hymn of response to the angel is the famous Magnificat, so named by the Roman church for the key word in the Latin translation of the first line of this prayer of praise offered by Mary. Mary, in her naturalness, unself-consciousness and humility, was now able to sing about how proud she was that God had chosen her. In her true humility, she praised God that she was especially blessed.
There is a danger in trying to spiritualize the Magnificat. These are the most revolutionary words ever spoken. Through the Messiah, the mighty will be brought low; the humble, the lowly, will be exalted. William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, warned his missionaries to India never to read the Magnificat in public. Christians were already suspect in that country and they were cautioned against reading verses so inflammatory.
Jesus, the ultimate revolutionary, completely reverses all human values. What Mary was prophesying about her unborn son is terrifying to the establishment, whoever and wherever they are. They cannot hear these words gladly. We may attempt instead to spiritualize these verses, but deep down we all know that Jesus has come to instigate the kind of revolution we need.
Henry James, great novelist of the past, said in Ivan Turgenieff, "Life is, in fact, a battle. Evil is insolent and strong; beauty enchanting but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in great places; people of sense in small (a comforting thought); and mankind generally unhappy, but the world as it stands is no illusion, no fanaticism, no evil dream of the night; we wake up to it again forever and ever; we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it; that’s what the world is."
José Ortega y Gasset, one of the greatest of all Spanish writers, said, "Before long there will be heard throughout the planet a formidable cry rising like the howling of innumerable dogs to the stars asking for someone or something to take command." And that’s why Jesus has come—to take command to lead the revolution, an incredible revolution, unlike Mao’s or Marx’s or Castro’s; a revolution of love.” (The Preacher’s Commentary)
Today, we will look at the “Magnificat,” that is, Mary’s song or Mary’s hymn as it is sometimes called. In Psalm 103:1 David writes, “Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” (NIV) Mary’s song echoes these very sentiments with regard to seeing the salvation of her people and of herself.
In simplicity, in humble adoration, in amazement of what God was doing in her life through the child which she carried, Mary’s soul exploded with joy, wonder, and awe, as the sacred child she now carried.
In Mary’s song is reflected the pure grandeur of the meaning of the coming of the Christ Child. Her soul rejoices because God had been mindful of her humble state. So too, in Christ we have been given the invitation to likewise rejoice that God has not forgotten us in our humble state, but that He has stooped low into the mire of the human experience.
Jesus, the might of the compassion of God incarnate, represents to you and to me the great reality that God’s mercy has been extended to us in the tangibility of human flesh! Immanuel, God with us, Jesus our savior and redeemer!
Here is an interesting question that has gained significant academic attention in recent years and has been popularized in television documentaries; what did Jesus look like? Surely, at Christmas time with so many manger scenes littering the yards of homes and churches alike, it is an interesting proposition.
What did Jesus, the man, look like? Was he tall? Was he short? Was he beautiful or unattractive? What color was his hair, his skin, his eyes?
There is less than well documented historical account of one Publius Lentulus, who is said by some to have been Governor of Judea before Pontius, and to have written the following letter to the Roman Senate: “Lentulus, the Governor of the Jerusalemites to the Roman Senate and People, greetings. There has appeared in our times, and there still lives, a man of great power (virtue), called Jesus Christ. The people call him prophet of truth; his disciples, son of God. He raises the dead, and heals infirmities. He is a man of medium size (statura procerus, mediocris et spectabilis);
he has a venerable aspect, and his beholders can both fear and love him. His hair is of the color of the ripe hazel-nut, straight down to the ears, but below the ears wavy and curled, with a bluish and bright reflection, flowing over his shoulders. It is parted in two on the top of the head, after the pattern of the Nazarenes. His brow is smooth and vary cheerful with a face without wrinkle or spot, embellished by a slightly reddish complexion. His nose and mouth are faultless. His beard is abundant, of the color of his hair, not long, but divided at the chin. His aspect is simple and mature; his eyes are changeable and bright. He is terrible in his reprimands, sweet and amiable in his admonitions, cheerful without loss of gravity. He was never known to laugh, but often to weep. His stature is straight, his hands and arms beautiful to behold. His conversation is grave, infrequent, and modest. He is the most beautiful among the children of men." (Catholic Encyclopedia)