Mary's Adoration (Luke 1:46-56)
Topic: Luke Passage: Luke 1:46–1:56
Go Tell It on the Mountain
(One Mission: I Am Not Ashamed)
December 7th, 2014
I. Christmas the Musical?
Two out of the four Gospels provide us with the accounts that make-up what we call the Christmas Story. But did you know, that in one of those Gospels, in the Gospel of Luke, the Christmas story is in some ways, similar to a Broadway musical? What do I mean? Well did you know there are three songs or praises that are lifted up by individuals right in the middle of the action, as the story itself is unfolding. These are people who in some way, have been deeply affected by the reality of Jesus. And in light of His impending birth, or in light of this baby himself, these three individuals cannot help but speak.
And I believe that fact should remind us that Christmas is a wonderful time to talk about Jesus. He is the reason for the season, isn't He? But as you well know, all of us can or do struggle when it comes to sharing Christ with others. This morning, and over the course of the next three weeks, I want us to explore the songs/praises of these individuals, in order that God might encourage us to speak as they spoke.
What songs am I talking about. The first is what I'll call Mary's Adoration in Luke 1:46-56, the second I will refer to as Zechariah's Prediction in 1:67-79, and finally, a short passage we'll call Simeon's Consolation in 2:29-32. Traditionally, these three songs/praises are called the Magnificat, Benedictus, and the Nunc Dimittis, which are all titles taken from the opening word or words of these praises, as found in the Latin translation of Luke.
II. The Passage: “My Soul Magnifies the Lord” (Luke 1:46-56)
So this morning we are going to look at Mary's song or her declaration of praise to God in 1:46-56. Turn there if you haven't done so already. Before we look at this song, let me remind you of the context, of what has happened and is happening in this passage. Mary has learned earlier in this chapter that she,even though she is a virgin, is going to give birth to the long awaited Messiah, or Anointed King of Israel. But even earlier in this chapter, Mary's cousin Elizabeth also learned that she and her husband would soon have a baby, even though they had been childless for decades.
So both women have been told about these pregnancies through angelic announcements. Now just before our main passage, we discover in 1:39-45 that Mary has traveled to see Elizabeth. But when she arrives and greets Elizabeth, amazingly, the baby in Elizabeth's womb (who will grow to be John the Baptist/Baptizer...the baby) leaps in the presence of Mary's unborn child. Look at what Elizabeth announces through the Holy Spirit. Vs. 42-45...
...and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
So in response to Elizabeth's declaration, God has given us a record of Mary's song or praise of adoration to God in vs. 46-55. So what I'd like to do is break Mary's Song into three parts and talk, not only about what we read here, but also the significance of what read in terms of speaking about Jesus. For example, in verses 46-49 we discover that...
A. I Speak about Jesus When I am in Awe of God's “Great Things” for Me (1:46-49)
Let's look at those verses together...
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;  for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
What's interesting is that we don't find this declaration of praise taking place right after Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel. While it might have only been a matter of days, Mary was probably trying process all of this. She only utters these words when she hears the words of Elizabeth, who confirms everything the angel said about her child.
And in light of this, Mary “magnifies”, literally, 'makes great' or 'makes much of God' and she rejoices in Him. Specifically, she is rejoicing in God as Savior. We'll talk more about that in a minute. But her words go on to reveal her recognition of the fact she is no way deserves what God has done, is doing, and will do in her life. Not only has Elizabeth confirmed her blessedness, but future generations will recognize her blessedness. Remember what the angel said about what God is going to do inside her:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
Truly this God whom Mary wants to make great, this God has done “great things” for her. How could his name be anything but holy, for there is no one and nothing like Him.
Listen, when you recognize that God has done “great things” in your life, and you know those “great things” are all tied to Jesus, then how can you not speak? How can you not explode with praise? How could your mouth stay shut? I love how Peter speaks of what God has done in us, in those who have embraced Jesus through faith...
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,  by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (II Peter 1:3-4)
When something great happens to us (e.g. new job, new car, new home, new baby, new opportunity), we typically don't hesitate to share, text, tweet, email, post, write, or call those around us and talk about our good news. But if the “great things” God has done for in Jesus are in fact so much greater than something like a new job, then how much more should we share that good news. But we have to recognize the greatness of what God has done, AND, that He has done it for you, in your life.
But let's keep going here. We also discover her that...
B. I Speak about Jesus When I am Astounded by God's Reversals (1:51-53)
Look with me at the next part of Mary's song in verses 51-53...
“He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;  he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;  he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”
Mary's has already spoken in verse 49 about God being “mighty”. But how has He revealed His power and strength? Well, as we see in these verses, He has accomplished and is accomplishing what we might call a major reversal of fortunes. He has defied and is defying expectations. He is shaking up the status quo. The haughty are humiliated. The mighty are demoted. The meek promoted. The hungry satisfied. The well-to-do lacking.
Now 'what' and 'when' is Mary talking about here? Well, first she recognizes that God blessing her in the way He has, blessing her, a lowly peasant girl, this represents an unexpected reversal. The Messiah will not be born in a palace to a queen, but in a stable to a peasant. But second, this is an indication that the Messiah will turn everything upside down. Isn't this what Paul spoke of in I Corinthians 1?
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.  And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 1:26-31)
Mary was astounded by the reversals, by the unexpected work God was doing and was going to do through her son. Are you astounded by this kind of work in your life? The great reversals of grace should daily astonish us: that God would give such a precious gift for such pernicious enemies; that Christ would die in order that those who should die can live; that those who deserve the least because of their unrighteousness, should receive the most because of Christ's righteousness; that we can be filled by emptying ourselves; that we can gain by letting go; that we (as we saw last week) can know true wisdom by becoming fools for Christ. A reversal of our sentence. A reversal of our destiny. A reversal of worldly wisdom.
And the list could go on. Are you astonished by what God has done through Mary's son?
If you are, you won't be able to keep quiet. Like Mary, you just have to speak about it. The news is simply too astonishing. Is that how you feel? But there's more here. Look at what else we see here. In the final verses of this passage we discover that...
C. I Speak about Jesus When I am Amazed at How God Keeps His Promises (1:54-56)
Look at verses 54 and 55...
“He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,  as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Mary is a faithful Jew. She has been raised with and she has held onto the great promises that were given to her ancestors, the promises we find in the Old Testament. As Mary points out here, those promise begin with Abraham, and then extend to his descendants. They are, as Mary indicates, promises of “help” and promises of “mercy”. The people of Israel knew they were in a bad place politically. They lived as a subjugated people, as an occupied nation. They were looking for liberation.
But some of the people also knew they were in a bad place spiritually. They knew they needed God to intervene. And He had promised to do so. The coming of the Messiah, the Son of David was the key to all of it.
Mary is clearly amazed by God's faithfulness in doing just that. But do we feel the same way? When you think about the promises of God that have already been fulfilled, even thousands of years after they were announced, when you think about that fact, does it make you think about the promises yet to be fulfilled? If God has proven, at every turn, that He keep His word, does that encourage you in light of the promises He will keep in your life? Listen again to Paul's words from I Corinthians 1...
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus...[He] will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (I Corinthians 1:4, 8, 9)
What assurance, what confidence that should inspire within us. And that in turn should open our mouths. That should inspire us to speak about God's grace in Jesus, the reason for the season.
In verse 56 we read...And Mary remained with her [Elizabeth] about three months and returned to her home. Can you imagine the laughter and tears that must have filled that house? Can you imagine the kinds of conversations that must have taken place there? These were people deeply impacted by God's purposes in Jesus Christ.
III. How Would Your Song Go?
So what about us? Are we people who have been deeply impacted by Jesus? Do we embrace the story of this family during the first Christmas as our family story?
Look back over those three points we've discussed this morning. To be in awe of the “great things” God has done for you, to be astounded by the reversal of grace in your life, to be amazed at how He keeps His promises; aren't these things that we need to think deeply about?
And if you did, and when you do, ask yourself, “How would my song go?” This morning we've heard Mary's Song. But what would yours sound like. Yes, in one obvious way, Mary was unique. But when we stop and really think about what God did in her life, we discover we are more like Mary than we think. Remember, God chose Mary, by His grace, in order that Christ might be formed in her, and then introduced to the world through her.
But doesn't God want to do exactly that in our lives? By the Holy Spirit, Christ dwells in us, by grace, through faith. And by the same Spirit, Christ is introduced through us to those in our world; introduced in our words, our love, our service. And this astounding privilege should put a song in our mouth. Because of Jesus, it should be that we cannot help but speak.
Based on what you've heard from Mary, do you think she would agree with Paul's statement in Romans 1:16? ...For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek
I think she would and I think she did agree wholeheartedly with that statement. Even though Jesus is not explicitly referred to in Mary's Song, we know the context of Luke 1 confirms that the birth of Jesus, the reality of Jesus the Messiah, was the whole basis for what Mary procllaimed. She was certainly “not ashamed”. What was and is there to be ashamed of in terms of the gospel, the Good News about Jesus?
If you have not done so already, I hope you will think very carefully about how you might personally speak of Jesus this holiday season. Will it happen through a Christmas card, or maybe through the giving of a gift? Will it be online through what you post? Will it happen in a conversation about a Christmas carol, or at a Christmas party, or as you invite a friend, co-worker, or family member to our Christmas service? There are so many ways to let Christ shine this month. But it begins with a heart that is in awe, a heart that is astounded, a heart that is amazed...a heart just like Mary's
If you do not know Jesus, if you have not received Him through faith, if you have not trusted that He is your only hope for life, for forgiveness, for God, then look with me at the verse we skipped this morning, verse 50: And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
Don't you love that? The mercy of Christmas, God's mercy through Jesus, is available to anyone who fears God. And that wasn't just true in Mary's generation. It is true “from generation to generation.” What does it mean to “fear him”? It means that we honor God as God, recognizing that I am not God, and that attempts to play God in my life are foolish. It is a reverence for God that involves both humility and worship. And it all flows from faith. We could translate that as his mercy is for those who [humbly believe He alone is God, and humbly kneel] from generation to generation.
How can we “fear him”? Only through the new heart that Jesus gives. Reach out to Him this morning and receive that gift. The manger should always point us to the Cross. And when you do, you will find a new song inside you.