Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Advent Reading Day 10 – Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56)

“And Mary said: “My soul exalts [magnifies] 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, from 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 empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.” And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.” (Luke 1:46–56, NASB95)

After the angel having told Mary that nothing is impossible with God, and Mary having gone to see her relative Elizabeth who through the leading of the Holy Spirit affirmed what had been said, Mary responded with these words. From the heart of her being, her very soul, she lifted up the name of the Lord and rejoiced in her spirit in her God her Savior. She was awed that He would look to her as a humble young woman to choose to bring about His plan for His Son to be born. This was indeed an incredible blessing and she knew it and lifted God’s name in praise in response. She knew that God who is holy had indeed done great things even for her.

In her praise to God which we know as the Magnificat because in the many translations the word “exalts” in verse 46 (first verse for today) is translated “magnifies.” In Latin the word “magnificat” describes this magnifying or exalting of God before men. Mary clearly was overwhelmed by the magnificence of God, and in her praise of Him she also quoted a familiar Hebrew thought summarized in Psalm 103:17, “But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children,” (Psalm 103:17, NASB95) She spoke of how amazing God is pointing to His power to move things with His arm, to scatter and confuse the proud, to bring down those who are big, and to life up (as with her) those who are humble. This is who God is, and Mary was joyfully singing His praises.

She went on to speak of how God filled the hearts of those who were hungry for Him, and sent away those who were big in their own strength empty handed. And then she turned her attention specifically to God’s faithfulness toward Israel to whom He has been a constant help—even rescuing them time and time again from their own rebellion. He has been incredibly merciful toward them as a people, and as He promised Abraham and the other fathers of her people He would continue to be mercifully faithful through the completion of His plan of restoration for all eternity. Mary had heard the voice of the angel, she had believed God that He would do in her just as He said, and she was ready to give herself fully to Him knowing that He was truly her magnificent God.

The last verse of this section simply says that Mary stayed with Elizabeth three months and then went home. I imagine those must have been some pretty incredible months. Then it was time to return home, and Luke does not tell us anything about that return. But we do read in Matthew chapter 1 that when it was discovered that Mary was pregnant Joseph had determined to break their engagement quietly so as not to bring any more shame on her than necessary. But before he could do this the angel appeared to him in a dream and told Him what Mary already knew, that the child she bore was conceived in her by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). Listening to the angel, Joseph did not put Mary away, but took her as his wife and did not have sexual relations with her until after the birth of Jesus.

No comments: