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A. An angel has appeared to Zechariah to tell him that his wife Elizabeth will bear a son in her old age.
B. The angel then appeared to Mary to tell her that she will bear the Son of God, and about Elizabeth.
C. Then Mary rushed to Elizabeth’s house and when she arrived, Elizabeth’s baby leapt in her womb.
D. Luke 1:46–56 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.” 56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
E. Was this a prophecy? It probably was, but we’re not told it was. It’s hard to imagine a teenager coming up with this in the moment without the inspiration of the Lord. It’s actually in poetic form.
1. But either way, what Mary said here was an expression of her own heart, even if it was inspired.
F. Before we walk through these verses, it would be good to point out that there are two parts:
II. Luke 1:46–49 The first is personal. Mary is praising God for what He is doing in her life in all this. So, let’s reflect on these words not only to understand what Mary was saying, but what she was experiencing at this moment, what she was feeling, who she was and how she viewed her life in the world she lived in. Let’s think about what must have been going on in her heart to say what she said.
A. 46-47 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,”
1. Have you ever put Mentos in a bottle of Coke? That’s what happened to Mary here. She just overflows with joy and worship.
2. You can tell from this that Mary was a woman who had been waiting in silence, counting on the promises of God.
3. And waiting in silence upon the promises of God tends to build a certain pressure in the soul, a pressure that is released when there’s an occasion for it.
4. This is what’s happening in Mary’s eruption of praise. It was almost as if Mary had suspended her emotions as she hurried to Elizabeth’s house.
a. And then when she arrives at Elizabeth’s house she is met by more than she bargained for.
b. You know what it’s like to have some enormous thing happen or to find out some earth-shaking news and holding in your emotions during the crisis, but then when you are with someone you’re really able to open up to, it all comes streaming out. That seems to be what is happening here with Mary. The dam is broken and a flood of emotion comes bursting forth.
5. The kind of pressure which had been building up in Mary comes from dying to oneself.
a. Many people feel like they are dying inside. But this is more than that. This is dying in faith.
b. It is saying no to yourself believing that it’s not all in vain, waiting for the reward, believing that someday God will deliver you and bless you for everything sacrificed.
6. And then when the day comes when faith turns to sight, when God answers the patience of His faithful children with a rich reward, there bursts forth a great flood of tearful rejoicing.
B. 48a for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
1. Mary was a woman of low estate, and she knew it. She felt it.
2. And, as a woman of low estate, Mary was downtrodden; she had been walked on and stomped on.
3. But God doesn’t look for cool people. He doesn’t look for haves. He looks for faithful have-nots.
4. I’m always amazed at some people who are mistreated, but instead of becoming bitter, they are grateful and humble and kind. E.g. people who are falsely imprisoned for a long time who finally get vindicated and released, and instead of lashing out, they are incredibly gracious.
5. Mary said earlier, “Behold, the servant of the Lord, may it be to me according to your word” (Lk.1:38). She uses the same word here again. Mary is God’s servant, and happy to be so.
6. We are servants of God too. That means a lot. It means we are not in charge of our own lives. It means we don’t get to decide what’s right for us. It means we don’t get to decide what’s true.
C. 48b For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
1. “From now on” is a favorite phrase of Luke to connote the fact that God is on the move, shifting things, changing things, making things new.
2. “I’ve gone from rags to riches. I was a nobody and now I am one of the most blessed people in history.”
3. You know, one day a woman communicated this same thing to Jesus. He was passing by, and she cried out to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!”
4. “From now on all generations will call me blessed!”
5. You know what Jesus said? It’s very powerful. He corrected her with these words: “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” – Luke 11:27–28
6. Wow! All generations call Mary blessed because she got to mother Jesus, but you know who is even more blessed? Those who hear the word of God and keep it. Amazing!
D. 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
1. In the OT, this language refers to God as a warrior who fights on behalf of His people to deliver them. And “holy is His name” is a recognition of His sovereign display of power.
a. So, is there some great battle here which Mary thinks God has engaged in?
b. After all, we’re talking about making a baby in her womb, not slaying a great enemy.
c. But there are many ways in which God was slaying a great enemy by conceiving this baby in Mary’s womb.
d. This baby was a warrior who would slay our worst enemies: guilt, death, hell itself.
e. And yet what strange weapons of warfare this mighty warrior used to win His victories: a humble birth, a life of humble service, dying on a cross.
f. “For not with swords’ loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums; With deeds of love and mercy the heav’nly kingdom comes.” – Ernest Shurtleff
2. But Mary doesn’t say, he who is mighty has done great things for US, but he has done great things for ME.
a. She refers to God’s people often in her prophecy:
(1) “those who fear him” in v.50
(2) “his servant Israel” in v.54
b. But here she’s not talking about something done for everyone, or something done for all God’s children. Whatever she’s referring to is something God has done – has just done – particularly for her. So, what great enemy has God just slain for Mary?
c. Well, in light of what she says before and after this, it seems she must be referring to the lie that she’s been told her whole life that she is a nobody, that she is worthless, that she will never amount to anything, that she is just a piece of trash.
d. Mary didn’t believe those lies, but now God was exposing them as lies to the whole world!
III. Luke 1:50-55 The second section doesn’t have to do with Mary personally, but Mary is praising the Lord for what He is doing in the world through all this.
A. In this 2nd section, Mary recognizes that this was not just a wonderful thing happening to her, it was the beginning of the great, cosmic, Messianic revolution promised from of old.
1. And Mary could already see the pattern of how it was unfolding.
2. By the fact that she was chosen, along with Elizabeth her cousin — she could tell that this was going to involve a great reversal of the way man had always done things, a reversal of the way man had always thought about greatness and lowliness.
B. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
1. When you live in the fear of God, it often looks like that godly fear is fruitless, but that is a lie.
2. One of the favorite things my generation likes to talk about is how much things have changed in our lifetime! It’s a different world!
a. But you know one thing which hasn’t changed? The Lord’s mercy to those who fear Him. That goes on from generation to generation.
b. “His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”
3. When we’re long gone, and our grandchildren have grandchildren, the Lord will still be being merciful to those who fear Him.
C. 51a He has shown strength with his arm;
1. You can’t tell how strong a person is when they’re standing around talking. It’s when they work.
2. God often hides His strength. And then suddenly, He acts, He works, and we see His great might.
3. So, what has He done with the strength of His arm?
D. 51b he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
1. How did this happen? All her life, Mary & Elizabeth had both been looked down on & ridiculed.
2. They were judged and disdained by Jews and Romans who thought they were better than everybody else: Mary for being a poor Galilean and Elizabeth for being barren.
3. And now God was turning the tables; He was putting to shame these proud thoughts.
E. 52-53 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.
1. Mary’s words draw our attention not so much to the coming of the messiah, but to the manner in which it is done. Humility is being exalted, and human pride is being laid low.
2. Those who are big stuff in this world are being passed over, and little people are being elevated.
F. 54-55 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.”
1. Before this point in time, it was not very evident that God's mercy was upon them since He had ordained a time of great darkness to precede the dawning of a bright new day.
2. It appeared as if God had forgotten His mercy towards His people.
3. But God has not forgotten His people, or His mercy toward them. He is watching over them; He loves them; He will never forget them, and He is coming soon to rescue them.
IV. The main point of all this, is that ‘grace flows downhill,’ that Jesus moves toward the ones who are low, not the ones who think of themselves as high.
A. Who is the one God generally chooses? According to 1Cor.1:26-29, it is:
1. The weak, those who are foolish in the eyes of the world,
2. Those who are not of noble birth, the low, and the despised.
B. Why would God go scraping at the bottom of the barrel of mankind in order to collect a people for Himself?
1. “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (29)
2. So that all might know that “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus.” (30)
3. So that when we boast, we boast not in ourselves but in the Lord. (31)
4. You see, God’s saving dealings with mankind are all based on the principle of grace.
a. And He is intent on this being recognized, and that no man think that God’s favor is a result of anything human. So He chooses the ones who have no other reason to be chosen, who lack any apparent qualifications.
C. You can’t stay rich and haughty and follow Christ. It just can’t be. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, and blessed are the meek. They will inherit the earth, and the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt.5:3, 5)
1. The secret to finding the treasures of God is meekness and humility.
2. “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” (1Pet.5:5-6, cf. James 4:6)
3. The last shall be first (Mat.20:16). Every valley shall be exalted; every hill made low (Lk.3:5).
4. So, the way to get God’s riches is by becoming poor. “He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed.” Luke 1:53
D. You can clearly see this pattern in the life of our Lord.
1. Lk.4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me...to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed.”
2. Matt.12:20 “A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out.”
3. Jesus reached out to the blind, to children, to sinners, to tax collectors, to the sexually immoral, to lepers, to the sick, to the deformed, to the demon-possessed, to Samaritans, to Gentiles.
E. We talked about how Mary and Elizabeth had been looked down on by others. And maybe some of us feel looked down on – as a women, as an immigrant, maybe as a person who never did well in school, maybe as a person who isn’t smooth in social situations, maybe as a person who isn’t good at sports, maybe as a Christian in a hostile world.
1. It’s very easy to be severely affected by all this, and to envy those who are loved and esteemed by the world (Psalm 73:3), instead of being content with our weaknesses, and the insults we receive (2Corinthians 12:10).
2. After all, it often looks like those who don’t fear God get all the blessings (Ps.73:4-5): they spend their lives doing what they want (Ps.73:8-12), and they aren’t held back by their conscience or rebuked by the word of God (Ps.73:13-15).
3. But this involves swallowing two pernicious lies.
a. The first lie is that the poor in spirit are not rich. You see, we have been given Jesus, the treasure of treasures. And this changes everything! If we have Him, we are rich, and the world can add nothing to that richness!
b. The second lie is that the worldly rich are actually rich. Sure, they may have money and possessions in the now. But they are gliding along on a canoe that is about to come to Niagara Falls (Ps.73:16-18). They and everything they possess will soon be destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors (Ps.73:19-20, 27)!
F. When Jesus goes up on the mount, and is transfigured before two disciples in glory, God speaks out of heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.” He’s not just telling us to listen to His commands, but also to listen to His words of love. Don’t listen to what the world says. Don’t listen to the voices in your own mind. Listen to Him! Listen to Jesus! And what does Jesus say?
1. I love you so much that I died on the cross for you. Not only this, but before the creation of the world, I knew you and chose you to be My bride. And I already know the future you, I know what you will be when every spot and blemish has been removed, when you shine like the sun, when you are completely beautiful, perfectly fashioned into My image.
2. There may be many voices, both inside and outside you, which tell you that the most profound and powerful thing about you is your unworthiness. That’s a lie. The most profound and powerful thing about you is that you belong to Jesus Christ, that you are a child of God, that He has chosen you for Himself, that His Spirit resides in your heart, that you are His precious possession forever.
3. We have a mighty One on our side. And if He is on our side, who can stand against us?
G. Beloved, none of us like to live lives where we’re not appreciated, where we barely feel noticed, much less praised.
1. We’re hungry for love, so hungry for affirmation, so hungry for human approval.
2. And so we beg for it and insist on it and clamor after it. We feel like we can’t live without it.
3. And I understand that. I yearn for appreciation as well.
H. But the approval we long for we must get from the Lord.
1. Here’s a book full of affirmation. Here’s a book full of expressions of love.
2. Here’s a book full of affection, and acceptance, and cherishing. And it’s written to us.
3. How sad it is when this treasury of love sits on the shelf while people go searching high and low for little fragments of human approval.
I. This is what God is looking for. “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” Is.66:2
1. This is what set Mary and Elizabeth apart from most of their peers.