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My Soul Magnifies the Lord: Mary's Magnificat

Christmas Songs  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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We worship God (1) for who He is, (2) for what He does for us, (3) for what He does in the world, and (4) for what He does in the world through us.

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Introduction

General
Christmas music is timeless, extends to virtually every genre of music, and is among the most loved of all time. My favorite Christmas album is Harry for the Holidays by Harry Connick, Jr.
Do you ever wonder why Christmas music is so popular? Why do we humans write songs and compose music and paint pallets for Christmas? It’s because Art is an expression of our hearts. We use music, poetry and art to celebrate the Christmas season because ultimately–even for those who may not admit it–Christmas is a time for worship.
Personal
We will all worship someone or something this Christmas. We may worship at the mall or at the shrine of Amazon. We may worship with our stomachs as we eat lots of Christmas sweets and food. We may worship family visits as the most important part of Christmas. Some of us will try to escape the holidays because they remind us of those we’ve lost and the grief is hard to bear. We may try to drown out Christmas with alcohol, prescription pain-killers, or something else.
My suggestion for this Christmas is to admit that ultimately Christmas isn’t a season for shopping, food, family, and fun–although those things are not bad in themselves. Ultimately Christmas is a season of worship, and once we acknowledge that, we can choose to intentionally give worship to God this Christmas and let the mall, the family, and the food fall into their proper place beneath the Lord.
Biblical
One way we can do this is through Christmas music. The original Christmas songs were composed a couple thousand years ago and written in the Bible, and over the next few weeks we’ll be studying and singing the Christmas songs of Scripture.
Subject & Text
Today we’re going to start with Mary’s Song, commonly referred to as the Magnificat, found in .
As we look at the song Mary wrote, we’ll ask:
How we can more intentionally worship God this Christmas? How can we be more purposeful in making Christmas a season that is about giving glory to God?

Body

Setting

Give the context and backstory...

Song

Luke 1:46–55 NIV
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, just as he promised our ancestors.”
Mary’s song gives us four things that will help us more intentionally worship God this Christmas. The Magnificat teaches us four lessons that will help us be more purposeful in making Christmas a season about giving glory to God?

Four Things from Mary’s Song

Mary’s song gives us the inspiration for worship. The Magnificat shows us why we worship God.
Exposition
Mary worshiped God for who He is. God’s character inspires our worship.
We worship
List
He is Lord (v. 46)
He is “God my Savior” (v. 47)

In the OT “Savior” is used thirty-five times with respect to God

He is mindful of us (v. 48)
He took notice of Mary. The God of Heaven paid attention to a nobody named Mary and changed the direction of her life. She went
He takes notice of us.
He takes notice of us.
He is mindful of us (v. 48)
He is the Mighty One whose name is holy (v. 49)
He does great things for us (vv. 48-49)
He reverses the world’s value system (vv. 51-53)
He is merciful (v. 54)
He forgave Israel countless times and showed them mercy when they didn’t deserve it. Instead of bringing them the judgment they deserved, He sent them Jesus; He had mercy on them and gave them a Savior.
He shows mercy to us and forgives us when we confess our sin and come to Him through Christ.
He is faithful (vv. 54-55)
“remembering” (v. 54) – God didn’t forget His people. He didn’t forget about Israel or the promises He made to Abraham, and He doesn’t forget about us or the promises He’s made to us.
Mary worshiped God for what He does. God’s actions inspire our worship.
He keeps His promises (vv. 54-55)
Luke 1:54–55 NIV
54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
We could sum all this up like this: God is the inspiration and object of our worship. We worship Him because of who He is and what He does. He is, as the popular Christian song says, “perfect in all of His ways.”
He reverses the world’s value system (vv. 51-53)
He changed the direction of Mary’s life, and He does the same for us.
He reverses the world’s value system (vv. 51-53)
Jesus was born into the most humble of circumstances, yet He is exalted to the right hand of God the Father and is the King of all kings.
He keeps His promises (vv. 54-55)
Illustration
Corinne and I got to see one of the last concerts B. B. King performed before he died. Even though the concert wasn't great, it was amazing to be there simply because of who he was–he was B. B. King!
Corinne and I got to see one of the last concerts B. B. King performed before he died. Even though the concert wasn't great, it was amazing to be there simply because of who he was–he was B. B. King!Application
Application
Application
This Christmas season, in the midst of the shopping, the food, the decorating, and the family visits, let us remember who God is and what He’s done. Yes, let’s enjoy the holidays, but let’s celebrate and worship God, because without Jesus we wouldn’t have a Christmas to celebrate!
This Christmas season, in the midst of the shopping, the food, the decorating, and the family visits, let us remember who God is and what He’s done. Yes, let’s enjoy the holidays, but let’s celebrate and worship God, because without Jesus we wouldn’t have a Christmas to celebrate!
Mary’s song gives us the inspiration for worship.
Mary’s song gives us the content of worship. The Magnificat points us to the source material for our worship… and that is God’s Word.
Exposition
There are literally dozens of quotes, allusions, and echoes of the OT in this passage. Virtually every single line of this song comes from something or somewhere in the OT. See especially , Hannah’s song.
There’s another story in the OT of a mother who experienced a miraculous pregnancy and sang a song of worship. In , Hannah sang a song after God answered her prayer by giving her a little baby boy named Samuel, who grew up to become one of the greatest prophets in Israel’s history. Mary modeled her song off Hannah’s song—the two songs are remarkably similar in style and content.
The point is, Mary used Scripture to provide the content of her worship. She knew God’s Word so well that her own words of worship were God’s words written in the Bible and applied to her own experience with God. God was doing great things for her, and in order to better understand her encounter and experience with God, she turned to God’s Word.
Illustration
We all have a library of 66 books about worship…
Application
Our worship together and as individuals must be grounded in God’s Word. We must seek to understand our experiences with God through the lens of God’s Word, and to do that we need to know God’s Word and worship with it.
Challenge: Let’s pray the Psalms together this Christmas season via Monday devotional emails...
Mary’s song gives us the anticipation of worship. The Magnificat expresses the hope that characterizes our worship.
Exposition
Luke 1:51–54 NIV
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
How can Mary talk about things that God hasn’t yet done as though they were already accomplished? Because Mary had faith in God, and that faith gave her great hope. “[Her song] describes the future work of God’s Son with the certainty of a past event” (Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary, 93).
Faith is the foundation of our hope; without faith there is no hope. But faith is not the absence of all doubt. Can you imagine all the questions, anxieties, fears, and uncertainty Mary must have been feeling when she was pregnant with Jesus? Yet, she had great faith, and that gave her great hope, which moved her to great worship.
When the Bible uses the word “faith,” the primary idea is trust. Faith is not the absence of all doubt. Faith is trusting God even when we don’t have all the answers. Christians can worship God in spite of the problems, the pain, the suffering, and the sin in the world because we trust God and believe His Word. We don’t just worship because of what He’s done; we also worship because of what we believe He will do.
Illustration
describes the future work of God’s Son with the certainty of a past event.
Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 93.
Illustration
George Müller (1805–1898) cared for more than 10,000 orphans in his lifetime, never once asking for help from anyone, but trusting that God would provide everything that was needed. In one instance, the children woke up to an empty pantry—there was no food for their breakfast, and no money to buy anything. Müller raised his hands and prayed, “Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat.” When he finished the prayer, there was a knock at the door. It was a local baker who’d been up since 2am baking extra bread for the orphanage because he felt the Lord prompting him. He delivered the bread and left, followed by another knock at the door. It was a local milkman. His milk cart had broken down in front of the orphanage, and all the milk was going to spoil, so he wanted to give it to the kids.
“I have joyfully dedicated my whole life to the object of exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith.” – George Müller
Application
When was the last time we had that kind of faith? Christians should be the most hopeful people on the planet because we have faith in the God who sent His Son to seek and to save the lost. And God will finish what He started. We worship in anticipation of what God will do in the world.
Do you trust God? Do you trust that He is good? Do you trust that He will take care of you? It’s okay to have questions. It’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to not fully understand everything. Faith is choosing to believe God and trust what He says even when we can’t see what lies ahead. And faith will fill us with hope that will move us to worship.
Mary’s song gives us the application of worship. The Magnificat demonstrates how worship impacts our lives.
Exposition
Mary was worshiping God because of what God was doing in the world through her.
Luke 1:38 NIV
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Her obedience to God was itself an act of worship. God wasn’t just going to do great things for Mary; He was going to do great things for the world through Mary. God was working His plan to save the whole world through an insignificant nobody, a backwoods Jewish girl who nobody had ever heard of or would’ve ever known had not God chosen to save the world through her Son.
So often we Mary’s example shows us that worship is more than just singing songs. Her submission to God’s will and participation in God’s plan were acts of worship.
Illustration
So often when we hear the word “worship” we think of that part of a church service when we sing. Or we may think of the whole church service as worship. But Mary’s example shows us that worship is more than singing songs and going to church on Sunday morning. Her submission to God’s will and participation in God’s plan were acts of worship. Obedience is worship.
Illustration
When we do what God created us to do, our actions become worship. When we fulfill the purpose for which we were made with the motive of glorifying our Maker, we are worshiping. Whether it’s fixing a car, playing an instrument, teaching 135 people how to paint a Christmas pallet, building a house, talking to your neighbor about Jesus, fixing a meal, or preaching a sermon, our actions become worship when we do what God created us to do so that we can honor our Heavenly Father.
Application
God has a plan for you. He created you with a purpose. He has a calling for your life. God wants to do great things in the world through you. Will you worship God by submitting to His will, participating in His plan, and following His call on your life? Will you pursue God at home, at work, at church, at school, in whatever setting you find yourself? That’s worship.

Conclusion/Communion

Communion is an opportunity for us to worship God by remembering who He is and what He’s done. There is no greater inspiration for worship than the cross of Christ.
Communion is an act of worship that comes straight from Scripture, and it has been celebrated by all Christians in all cultures in all places throughout all of Christian history.
Communion is an act of worship that expresses the hope we have in Christ. As we remember Jesus’s death on the cross and His resurrection, we also hold to the hope of our own future resurrection, and we anticipate His glorious return.
And, Communion is an opportunity for us to say, “Yes, I will submit to God’s will and participate in God’s plan to do great things in the world through me.”
Mark 14:22–26 NIV
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” 26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Mark 14:22–26 NIV
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” 26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
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