MARY'S MAGNIFICAT LUKE 1:46-55 Series: The Characters of Christmas Pastor Stephen Muncherian December 11, 2005
with me to Luke
1:46-55.Or, you’ll find these verses
on your Sermon Notes.This
is a familiar passage - as are most of the verses that
deal with Jesus’ birth.So,
I’d like to have us read these out loud together - to
get them fresh in our minds - to make sure we’re not
just skimming a familiar text.
As we read these verses you’ll probably recognize it
as the worship song of Mary which is often called “The Magnificat.”The
word “magnificat” - comes from a Latin word which means - “to
magnify - to exalt - to glorify - or as it is in the context
here - “to declare the greatness of God”In the 4th century Jerome
translated the Bible into Latin and magnificat comes
from his translation of verse 46:“My soul magnifies the Lord.”Since then there’s been that
association with this worship song - Mary’s
said, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has
rejoiced in God my Savior.For
He has had regard for the humble state of His
bondslave; for behold, for this time on all
generations will count me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and
holy is His name.
And His mercy is upon generation after generation
toward those who fear Him.He
has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered
those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.He has brought down rulers
from their thrones, and has exalted those who were
humble.He has filled the
hungry with good things; and sent away the rich
given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of
His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and
his descendants forever.”
During this season of the year - during Advent - at Christmas - we often focus
is on what God has done for us.The
coming of Jesus
our Savior - His
incarnation - His birth - the outpouring of God’s
love.Often the focus is
on our need and how we benefit from God’s love and grace.
Yet, here in Mary’s song of worship the focus is on
God.That’s a perspective
- an attitude - that we need to keep focused on as
we’re celebrating and thinking about Jesus’ coming.How can we respond to all
that God has done for us?To
offer something back to Him - that pleases Him and
brings glory and honor to Him?How do we - like Mary - how
do we magnify God?
In Mary’s song there are three examples of this type
of “magnificat” response that we want to focus our
Openness To God.Let’s say that together:“Mary’s
Openness to God.”
A while back I was sitting in an Apostolic Church
Service.In front of me -
on the wall - was this painting of Mary and Jesus -
Mary holding the infant Jesus.Can
you picture this?I was
sitting next to a priest who I knew fairly well - so
we could discuss some of these touchier issues.So, I asked, “Why is
Mary always so prominent?Why
not focus on Jesus rather than Mary?Aren’t you worshipping Mary too?”
“Oh no,”He said.“We don’t worship Mary.We honor her.She’s the mother of God.”
There are some who’ve
elevated Mary to the point of being equal - or pretty
close to being equal - with Jesus.They consider her to be free of original sin -
perpetually a virgin - ascended to Heaven without
dying.Some say that Mary
is an intercessor for the church.Someone to whom we can pray
through and even pray to and she answers our prayers.Some have even suggested
that she’s like a female Savior.Jesus being male.Mary
a sense, the female counter part to male deity.A mother goddess.
Backing up in Luke chapter 1 - setting the scene for the
Magnificant - Mary
has been told by the angel Gabriel that by the work of the Holy
Spirit she’s going to become pregnant
and give birth to Jesus - the Messiah.Which -
as we know - happens.Gabriel
also tells Mary that her relative Elizabeth - who was
old and unable to bear children - Elizabeth is 6
months pregnant - pregnant with John the Baptist.So Mary - miraculously
pregnant - goes to visit her relative Elizabeth - also
Together - Mary and Elizabeth - share a pretty unique and
amazing perspective of God at work.It would have been an amazing visit to be a
part of - to listen to their conversations - comparing notes - considering
God’s presence and work in their lives - and praising
God.From this time
together comes this “magnificat” of Mary.
In verse 46, Mary sings, “My soul
exalts the Lord” - testifies of Who God is - lifts up God who is
worthy of praise.“My
spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” - “He has
regard for the humble state of His bondslave.”
The focus in verses
46 to 48 is Mary singing of her relationship with God
- not in self-exalting
terms - equality - but from the perspective
of humility -
someone who’s experienced and is open to the
miraculous working of God in her life.
She’s a teenager
- a young girl that God has regarded - chosen.Generations to come will
remember Mary as the one whom God blessed.She sings because of the
announcement of the angel Gabriel and her conception.In an expression of great
emotion she sings of her surrender to her Savior God - offering
herself to be used as He wills.Her entire being - her soul - her spirit - magnifies - worships - exalts
and adores God
- for what He is doing in her and through her.
Worship - so often gets lost in experience.We feel that if we sing the right songs - if
our body language is right - if we sit or stand at the
right times - if the sanctuary looks a certain way -
if we’re led by the ‘right’ leadership style - then we
can worship - we
can exalt and magnify God.When we think that we’re missing the point.
Thinking about Mary’s humility before God - her
openness to God - and this season of Advent - its a
good thing for us to be reminded that magnifying God
flows out of a
life that’s surrendered to God - that’s already
intimate with the God.
It becomes way too easy for us to get lost in programs
and carols - the places we need to be and things we
need to do - the things of the season that make us
feel good - even to celebrate what God has done forus - to focus on ourselves at
Christmas - and to fall short of exalting - of
magnifying - God.
Magnifying God flows out of lives that are open before
There’s an opportunity here for us - to purpose to
make the time to contemplate who we are before God -
what He is about doing in our lives - and to renew our
daily commitment of surrender and service to Him.To
allow our worship - the hymns and prayer and
testimony - to flow from that relationship - to
express back to Him our surrender - our openness - our
declaration of who He is.
Second - here in
Mary’s song - thinking about magnifying God - verse 49
focuses on God’s Presence With Mary.Let’s
say that together, “God’s presence with Mary.”
Mrs. Kim is a Chinese Korean living in Northeast
China.In an interview
with Voice of the Martyrs she talked about her
ministry in Korea and about what its like there for
is very difficult.The
larger it gets the more dangerous it gets as well.Our first arrest happened in
1999.Four believers were
caught worshipping together.They
were arrested and sentenced to seven years.A young man who was trained
extensively and active in the Bible delivery was
recently arrested and has disappeared.I am really worried about him.
Another family was arrested - the whole family,
including the children.They
are all in prison except the father.He was executed.Some
former prisoners have died from their imprisonment as
well.They will let a
prisoner go when they are near death.They usually die within a few weeks or months
after their release.
Just this year a family was arrested.The parents were taken to one prison and the
children to another.The
authorities burned their house down.Two children (a son and daughter) of one family
I helped came into China for more training.But when they were returning
to North Korea, they were caught and charged with
“treason” and becoming “Christians.”They have been publicly executed.This is the saddest for me.I was very close to this family.So many have been arrested…so many killed.
But - listen to
this - I am also thankful for others
working in North Korea.I
know there are many people doing what I do.I see them coming across the
border.No one ever
speaks a word, but you just know who they are.They have wings.” (1)
Think about this.Mrs.
Kim is in contact with 40 plus house churches and has
started another 60 plus.She’s
there - along with others - who are silently crossing
the border - into a country where the government
publicly executes Christians.No
to their testimonies - these people are praising God
for the opportunity to do what for most of us causes
fear and significant hesitation in our hearts just
thinking about it.
In verse 49 Mary sings of God’s presence in her life.“The
Mighty One has done great things for me.”
God is the one
who has done mighty things in her life - brought her to know Him - helped her to live a godly
life - given her
a Godly man to be engaged to.
In everything that Mary is about to face - God would
be there.The ridicule for her out-of-marriage pregnancy - watching her first born Son grow up - leave home to
wander Palestine - and then see her Son suffer and die
on the cross.
The presence of God in our lives doesn’t mean the
absence of pain or difficulties.We live in a world that’s under bondage to
Satan.People are tired.Life is a race to stay ahead.The answers are empty and hopeless.There are
all live with.And, no Christian is immune from
the struggles of life.In fact, being a
Christian makes it worse.Being
a Christian means being a target - hated and harassed
and a focal point of Satan’s war against God.
Turn to the person next to you and remind them of
that, “You’re a target.”
Remember these words?
Come, Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set They people free. From
our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s
Hope of all the earth Thou art. Dear
Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart. (2)
In the midst of
all of the crud
of life - God’s
presence teaches us that He is the One to be honored -
because of who
He is - because of His mighty deeds - His creative power - His
holiness - His perfection - His mercy and grace - and
His sustaining presence in our lives.
Magnifying God is an opportunity to declare that He
has chosen to be with us.
experience with God - His presence - His blessing - the spiritual
satisfaction in our lives - the inner peace - and hope
and purpose - which
only God comes
from God -
teaches us to respond - as Mary did - with praise and
worship.To thank Him and praise Him
for coming - for choosing to break into our lives and
to be here with us.
magnifying God - Mary’s third focus is on God’s
Faithfulness To His People.Let’s
say that together, “God’s faithfulness to His
Chuck Swindoll writes this, “Remember
waiting for that first baby - the anticipation of
bringing home this soft, cuddly, wonderful, delightful
infant?And finally the
birth and everything’s fine and a day or so later you
come home.The first week
you realize that what you really have is cross between
“The Terminator” and “The Swamp Thing.”I mean, this creature sleeps when you’re awake
and is wide awake when you’re asleep, and has a set of
lungs to drown out a Concord jet.My wife used to say, ‘Honey, I’m forgetting
what our baby’s face looks like, I’m spending so much
time at the other end.’” (3)
What’s it like -
seeing your child
for the first time - hearing him cry - seeing him move?Holding
this baby - that for 9 months you’ve dreamed about and
waited for.Men - we sort of get this - being there and experiencing
all that with your wife.But we don’t understand it
like our wives do.
Think about Mary.After 9 months of pregnancy and all that that involved.Even the donkey ride to
Bethlehem.What stirred within in her
when she heard the voice of Jesus cry out for the
first time?What did she feel when He was placed in her arms the
first time - tiny - fragile?When she looked into His face
for the first time - her Son - what emotions poured
through her heart.
Do you remember the song written by Mark Lowry, “Mary
Did You Know?”Remember
Mary did you know, that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?
The blind will see, the deaf will
The dead will live again, The
lame will leap, the dumb will speak
Praises of the Lamb?
did you know, that your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation? Mary
did you know, that your baby boy
Will one day rule the nations?
know, that your baby boy
Was Heaven's perfect Lamb? And
this sleeping Child you're holding
Is the Great I AM(4)
What Mary sings here in verses 50 to 55 gives us a
pretty good idea that Mary did have some sense of what
she was a part of - not all of it.But enough to trust God and worship Him.
“His mercy is upon generation after generation toward
those who fear Him… He has given help to Israel His
servant in remembrance of His mercy.As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his
There are at least 10 references from the
Old Testament in
these verses.Especially the promise made
to Abraham and the promise of redemption through the
coming Messiah.Mary’s memorized these.They’ve
rattling around in her heart.
There are 400 years of silence between the Old and New
Testaments - the prophetic voice of God has been silent.400 years since the prophet Malachi.Now
that voice has spoken through Gabriel.And
Mary is aware that
God once again is speaking - accomplishing His will -
working within His people.She’s glimpsed the big picture of who God is
- what He’s doing in the world.
Aslan is on the move.This
is the fulfillment of prophecy - the Messiah.
To magnify God is the opportunity to rejoice that God
always keeps His word.That
He is - even now - about fulfilling His promises.
In Mary’s song there are these three parts - openness
to God - God’s presence - God’s faithfulness.In all of these Mary has a clear sense of her
own identity.She knows
that she’s a part of God’s plan - and she’s opened herself up to what He
desires to do in her and through her - that He would use her in
faithfully fulfilling His promise to His people.
That servant heart is what God
desires from all of us.That
we would allow Him to accomplish His will and purposes
in us.To understand our
value in His eyes and have the confidence that He is
going to do great work in us and through us.
Advent is a great opportunity for us.To renew our openness to God - to purpose to - magnify God - to worship and praise Him - from
hearts humbly - and intimately acquainted with Him.To seek to grow more deeply aware of
His presence in our lives and be more surrendered that
He would use us for His glory.
1. The Voice Of The Martyrs, November 2005 2. Come, Thou
Charles Wesley 3. Charles R.
Swindoll, Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of
Illustrations & Quotes 4. “Mary Did
You Know?” words
by Mark Lowry, Music by Buddy Greene