12-24-2017 A Magnificent Magnificat Luke 1:46-55
Have you ever asked: Why is everybody so happy at Christmas? Why is everybody expected to be so happy at Christmas? What is the essence of the Christmas spirit?
Well, Secular Scientists have asked this over the years!
So a “scientific study” a few years back had concluded that the ‘feeling of Christmas' or ‘the Christmas spirit’ is all about, and can be reduced to, simply the right combination of sights, sounds and smells
Research, conducted under strict scientific conditions, involved exposing a group of female only volunteers to a selection of seasonal sight, sound and smell sensations.
For each combination the 30 women participants were asked to give a score out of 10 for how “Christmassy” they felt.
Candles, carols and cinnamon came out on top with a rating of 7.3, followed by candles, carols and the smell of oranges with a score of 6.2.
The least Christmassy combination was: candles, classical music, and the smell of pine, which scored 2.95.
What? You don’t felt much like singing carols? Everybody around you is smiling and laughing, but you feel like crying—especially at the smell of oranges.
Would you be the one that notices each year: “They’re all so carefree while I am full of worry, stress and pain.”
If that is you, then don’t feel alone--An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder (S.A.D.) - or a.k.a the “Holiday Blues.”
Why is that though?
Aging family members
Magnification of existing problems
As ambassadors to the One whom we celebrate, we need to unwrap the Christmas gift for the world and that gift is Christ. Through proper worship, we take our focus off of us and put our focus where it belongs!
On the heels of our communion this morning, it is appropriate to continue in celebration and in deep worship to our Lord. We will join in on Mary, the one chosen to give birth to the Messiah, just as she heard news from the archangel Gabriel.
The word “Magnificat” is Latin, and literally translates to ‘magnifies’ (from the opening words, which translate as ‘my soul magnifies the Lord’).
46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Zacharias and Elizabeth lived in one of the priestly cities (Joshua 21), so Mary had to make a bit of a journey to get there while pregnant. When she arrived and greeted Elizabeth, wonderful things began to happen. Elizabeth is now filled with the Holy Spirit and immediately proclaims the blessings from God for what He had done for Mary, and then the unborn John the Baptist even leaped for joy in his mother’s womb. I want you to notice that Elizabeth called Mary “the mother of my Lord,” which is a proper title. It was Mary’s faith that was lifted most of all (v. 43).
Let’s look at a couple qualities we see from Mary. First, we see her deep love for scripture:
I. A Love for Scripture
I. A Love for Scripture
Mary’s love of scripture. She quotes some ten different passages of Old Testament scripture in her song. Mary obviously knew and loved the word of God. One of the passages she draws on the most is a similar song by another Jewish woman, recorded in 1 Samuel chapter 2. In the first chapter of first Samuel, we learn that Hannah was barren for many years, and like many Jewish women, she was ashamed for being barren. She really wanted a child, we read that she prayed so fervently at the Temple that the priest there, Eli, thought she was drunk. But she explained that she had not had a drop to drink; she was simply desperate for YHWH to answer her prayer. Eli assured her that YHWH had indeed answered it, and sure enough, after years of barrenness, Hannah and her husband finally were able to have a child. That child became a popular and key prophet of Israel—he sought after the kings for Israel, he the wise and respected prophet Samuel. Following his birth, Hannah burst into song, much like Mary’s Magnificat.
Look down at your Bibles at Mary’s song of praise while you listen to 1 Sam 2:1–10;
1 And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 2 “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. 9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
In v. 48 of the Magnificat we see a hint of Hannah’s words from 1 Sam 1:11;
And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”
Then in v. 50 we see hints of Genesis 12:3, and Psalm 103:17
I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
v. 51 uses Ps 89:10;
You crushed Rahab like a carcass; you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
v. 52 uses elements from Job 5:11
he sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
v. 53 uses Ps 107:9;
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
v. 54 uses Isaiah 41:8-9
But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
v. 55 uses Gen 17:7 and Mic 7:20.
And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
This use of scripture is very telling of Mary, because it displays a depth of understanding and knowledge of Scripture which is proof of Mary being a godly young woman. Clearly, this teenage girl had hidden God’s word in her heart [[Ps 119:11]]!
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Mary certainly has read and meditated on Hannah’s story. And though parts of their stories were different, Mary identifies with Hannah’s joy, her happiness, and her love for YHWH. And that brings us to a second admirable character trait of Mary, she had:
II. A Love for God
II. A Love for God
Her love of God. Mary doesn’t just love the Word of God; she also loves the God of the Word. Mary is sold to YHWH. When the angel Gabriel first brings his shocking news of a baby to be conceived by the Holy Spirit, Mary simply responds, “I am the Lord’s!” [[Luke 1:38]].
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
By the way, the word “servant” here is δουλος which means “bond-servant” or better understood by our American ears as “slave.” A slave’s only purpose is to fulfill the desire of her master. So “whatever the master wants or needs” is her job. Mary is saying, “My purpose is to serve YHWH, and only YHWH.”
Mary’s will is lined up perfectly with God’s will. In her song, she refers to God as her Lord, her Savior, the Mighty One, holy, merciful, performing mighty deeds, scattering the proud, bringing down rulers and lifting up the humble, filling the hungry, sending the selfish rich away empty-handed, and keeping his promises to Israel, His chosen people.
Mary loves God with all her heart, all her soul, all her mind, and all her strength. She loves God more than anything. And because of this level of devotion, God chooses her for a great task.
2 Chronicles 16:9a says, “The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”
YHWH looked across all the Earth at the right time and found this woman able to be the earthly mother of our Lord and Savior, the Messiah.
And so with her love for scripture and for the Author of scripture, we can bank on the fact that this kind of love is:
III. A Selfless Love
III. A Selfless Love
Mary’s selfless love proves her humility. When she says:
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
“From now on all generations will call me blessed” she’s not bragging. She’s marveling at the wonder of God’s choice of her. In the very next phrase she explains
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me” Mary understands God’s grace. God’s grace is the basis of our faith. The Sunday School definition of Grace is YHWH giving us what we do not deserve. None of us deserves salvation. All of us deserve death. All of us need rescuing, even Mary recognizes this and refers to YHWH as “my Savior” (vv. 46-47).
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, it’s easy to serve God when he gives you good news, like, ‘You’re going to be the mother of the Savior of the world.’” Yes, it is good news, but from the beginning it will bring huge repercussions. Can you imagine how it went when she told her parents? What would Mary’s parents have had to say? And her friends and the whole town—what would they be thinking? And then there would, a chapter later, be Jesus’ baby dedication, when the prophet Simeon would prophesy to Mary: [[Luke 2:34-35]]
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
I’m sure these words felt great hearing them! And they probably echoed in Mary’s head 33 years later, as she sat collapsed at the foot of a cross.
There is a price to pay for following the Messiah. Jesus, Himself promises: [[John 15:20]].
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
But even so, it is worth the price. There is nothing more fulfilling than to be exactly in the center of the will of God.
Mary knows the honor of being chosen for God’s work, and she marvels at it. She magnifies God’s name. She glorifies the Lord.
When you magnify God in your life, you take the magnifying lens off of yourself, and all your own problems, and you then give proper worship.
That same God is ready to use us as we magnify his love, his forgiveness, his grace, his mercy in our lives.
Ron Follett. I was delighted to see Ron weeks ago, inviting skeptics to understand the Gospel. You could see his passion, his desire, his spirit as he talked about what real faith is, as believers, and what a great God we serve to a couple that was continually bringing up objections. Ron was magnifying the Lord, and God was using him as a result.
Mary remembered God’s promise to Abraham. The Bible is full of God’s promises to you and me:
Promises of His love,
Promises of eternal, abundant life through Christ,
Promises that He will never leave nor forsake you,
Promises that He cares about you, no matter who you are.
Do you believe God keeps His promises?
The Christmas Secret to Joy and Happiness is found only in Jesus-- The source of Joy & Purpose
Letting Him turn you into a new creature and continually trusting Him to keep His promise
God wants to use each of us as part of his work, and Christmas is a wonderful time for it. Carols are being sung everywhere, and if you listen to the words, many point to the birth of a Savior, Jesus in a manger, Immanuel—God with us! The God who left heaven to come and to live among us, to save us from our sins. The whole culture is talking about Christmas. So why not take action in these wonderful opportunities to join in, and magnify the Lord? Let us pray: