What is your favorite Christmas song? We often find ourselves spontaneously humming and singing those tunes. They have stuck with us because of all sorts of memories. We remember them because of family gatherings, when they comforted us in times of pain, or when we used them as a witness to the community.
In Luke 1:46-55, Mary offers up her own declaration of worship to God. It is a song that highlights the goodness and mercy of God because of the Christ child she now carries in her womb.
1. Mary’s praise is based on God’s work.
46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
47 and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
48 because He has looked with favor
on the humble condition of His slave.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed,
49 because the Mighty One
has done great things for me,
and His name is holy.
Mary starts off with gratitude, rather than entitlement. Mary recognizes that she is not the center of the relationship with God, rather God is. Otherwise, it would read differently. “God has heard my arguments and realizes how much I deserve to be blessed.” She knows that generations will call her “blessed” because of God’s grace; His unmerited favor on her. It is not due to her morality or standing in society.
Being blessed is the distinct spiritual joy that comes from God sharing salvation with us. Because of this blessing, she directly rejoices in God as Savior. Like her, we should declare our gladness that God has looked on the humble condition of humanity. He sees our neediness. We should respond in the same manner as Mary. We know who comes first. God does not act redemptively because we got our act together. He acts and then we respond in faith.
2. God’s mercy is for all generations.
50 His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
It makes no sense for God to choose Mary. Or Abraham. Or Moses. Or David. Or the 12 disciples. Or Paul. Or me. Or you. But, look at what God longs to do. He enjoys showing mercy so much that He does it generation after generation. Through Mary, we hear the requirement for us to see the mercy of God visit us: to fear the Lord. It is not to be afraid of Him as if the false gods of Greek mythology have come to life in all of their petulant and obnoxious attitudes. Instead, we live awestruck by His glory and how He acts on our behalf. Here a few ways that the Bible describes this way of living.
- Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
- Proverbs 19:23 – “The fear of the Lord leads to life.”
- Psalm 85:9–“His salvation is very near those who fear Him.”
- Psalm 25:14 – “The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them.”
- Psalm 145:19 – “He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry for help and saves them.”
- Acts 9:31 – “So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, & Samaria had peace, being built up and walking in the fear of the Lord & in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, and it increased in numbers.”
We should gladly live in the fear of the Lord knowing that we have a covenant-keeping, grace-giving, mercy-showing God. He is a good King.
3. God turns the world upside down with His salvation.
51 He has done a mighty deed with His arm;
He has scattered the proud
because of the thoughts of their hearts;
52 He has toppled the mighty from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
53 He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
mindful of His mercy,
55 just as He spoke to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his descendants forever.
As Mary praises God for what is happening to her, she takes on a prophetic tone about what Jesus will accomplish. God will scatter and overturn the power of the prideful. He turns away the self-satisfied. He did this in his ministry to the Pharisees and when He overturned the tables in the Temple. Those who think they have it all together will be given the opportunity to see that they do not. God will topple the might from their thrones so they will see their great need for God’s work. He will exalt the lowly because they have reached up for the Lord’s help. He reverses the fortunes of the self-satisfied and the desperate. He is a covenant-keeping God who helps the exalted to be humble and exalts the humble.
God had promised and was fulfilling His Old Testament covenant to Abraham. Let’s be honest to say that Abraham’s family must have thought him odd at best; crazy at worst. He left his homeland because God said so. Israel was an outcast people who dared to believe in only one true God. How could they possibly expect to satisfy the deities that the Babylonians, Philistines, Egyptians, and all the rest that other nations worshiped? They were assaulted in war, oppressed in politics, and enslaved. But God never turned away from His promise to deliver the Deliverer. It will be through the Christ child that we will see God turn the world upside down for grace. He keeps His promises to satisfy the lowly and knock down prideful.
How do we respond?
- We should submit to a full and ruthless evaluation by the Holy Spirit.
- Accept God’s grace for your own salvation. If you do not know Christ as Lord and Savior, today is the day of your salvation.
- Be a troublemaker for grace. Where people expect you to take advantage of a situation, make it advantageous for someone in need. Be counter-cultural by caring for another. Be a blessing! Be a blessing! Be a blessing!
- Live in the fear of the Lord. Learn His covenant promises and worship passionately for what He has done. We don’t live for our employers, for a better reputation, wealth, or an earthly reward. We live and answer to the one true God who satisfies by His great mercy.