Our text this morning is found in Luke 1:46-55.
46 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.”
Mary, has just been told by Gabriel that she would have a child.
This child would be the result of the Holy Spirit overshadowing her. (Luke 1:26-33)
This child would be the Messiah and He would be called the Son of God.
Mary has also been told that her relative Elizabeth has also experienced a miracle in her old age. She also would be giving birth because nothing is impossible with God (1:37). Then in Luke 1:39 we read these words, “In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country.” Immediately upon her arrival Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and the child in her womb leaps for joy. Then they both begin to magnify the Lord.
In our text, Mary seeks to magnify the Lord. This means that she seeks to glorify God, to declare the greatness of the Lord, to increase and to enlarge His fame and His wonder.
How will Mary go about magnifying the Lord?
There are five ways that we see in our text that will answer this question.
We will see that only the saved can magnify the Lord. (saint, redeemed, justified)
Mary magnifies the Lord from the depths of her soul
Mary speaks about the nature and character of God
Mary speaks about the deeds of the Lord
Finally, Mary will magnify the Lord with a humble disposition of heart
#1 Only the saved and redeemed can magnify the Lord (2 points)
#1 We see this when Mary says, “...my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (1:47)
First, we see that Mary magnifies the Lord with her spirit. She does not magnify the Lord with external worship or through carnal ways.
Secondly, we see that Mary calls God her Savior. Mary was not perfect as some have said. Mary, like all of us, needed a savior.
Third, Mary rejoices in God for her salvation. She does not rejoice in any goodness in herself. Nor does she fail to rejoice because she is unsure of what God was doing. She rejoices in God her Savior.
#2 We also see that Mary is magnifying the Lord for His salvation in Luke 1:48 when she says, “...for He has looked upon the humble estate of His servant”. When Mary speaks of her humble estate, she is not only talking about her lowly status in life. On the contrary, she could boast of her lineage from King David.
She is not referring to her poor economic or social status in society. Rather, she speaks of her sinful state. This Greek word is used four times in the New Testament and each time it is primarily used to speak of a persons sinfulness and vile state.
God looks upon her in her ‘humble estate’ and responds with saving mercy.
#2 Mary magnifies the Lord from the depths of her soul
Mary says, “My soul magnifies the Lord” This is not something she is doing from a superficial level. She magnifies the Lord with all of her mind, with all of her will and with all of her emotions. Let me give three examples as to how she does this.
She has believed the words that God has spoken to her. Mary testifies to this when she says in Luke 1:38, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Elizabeth testifies to Mary’s faith when she says in Luke 1:45, “And blessed is she who believed that there wold be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Mary has also remembered God’s word in the scriptures to help her magnify the Lord. Her song is a compilation of many phrases and passages in the Old Testament that she is recalling. She uses passages from 1 and 2 Samuel, from six different Psalms, Isaiah, Micah and from Job. Mary is giving us an example of what Paul speaks of in Colossians 3:16 which says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Mary has sought to understand with her mind all that was told to her by the angel.
In Luke 1:29 she was trying to discern what the greeting that the angel had given might mean.
In Luke 1:34 Mary sought to understand a question that she had. Mary is choosing to respond in faith and to rest in the Promise given to her.
Mary magnified the Lord with all her will. This is clearly seen again in Luke 1:38, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Mary magnifies the Lord with her emotions. Mary speaks of this in Luke 1:47 when she says, “...and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Mary has much to be concerned and about and she may still have many questions; but despite all of this she rejoices in the Lord.
#3 Mary speaks about the nature and character of God
Mary magnifies God for His strength.
Mary magnifies the Lord for His holiness in Luke 1:49, “...for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.” This refers to an essential part of God’s righteous character. The Lord is holy and He is ‘set apart’ from His creation. Revelation 15:4 says, “Who shall not fear You, O Lord...For You alone are holy.”
At Christmas we celebrate the fact that God, who is holy and set apart, Has come among sinful men to redeem them. Philippians 2: 5-8 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Mary magnifies the Lord for His mercy
Luke 1:50 says, “And His mercy is for those who fear Him.”
Luke 1:54 says, “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy.”
Mercy is God’s gracious disposition towards sinners and towards the suffering that has been caused by their sin. In God’s great mercy He saves us while we are still His enemies and when we are found dead in our trespasses and sins. (Eph. 2:1; Rom 5:8)
#4 Mary speaks about the deeds of the Lord
In Luke 1:51-53 we see Mary speak of the great deeds of the Lord. Mary says, “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.”
This is called the great reversal. God often is seen in removing the powerful from their high places and replacing them with the humble, the meek and the lowly.
In Luke 1:49, we read, “...for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.” What has the Lord done for her? He is her savior (47), He has looked upon her with favor (48), He has blessed her (48), done great things for her (49), He has been merciful (50), He has exalted her (52), He has filled her with good things (53), He has remembered His promises that He had spoken to Abraham (54-55).
#5 Mary will magnify the Lord with her humble disposition of heart
This was the most surprising and the most rewarding part of this text for me to consider.
In out text there are two types of people. On the one hand we see the proud, the mighty, and the exalted. On the other hand, we also see the humble, the lowly, and those who fear God.
It is the humble who can realistically speak of the grace, mercy and faithfulness of God in a manner that magnifies the Lord.
The prideful do not have a disposition of heart that can magnify the Lord. The prideful unbeliever may know the technical terms and definitions of these biblical words but they have not experienced the reality of these things.
God is magnified by:
the truths we proclaim - These truths are important! But they need to be delivered with something else.
These truths need to be accompanied by a humble disposition of our hearts.
Mary is a humble person. Mary is lowly of heart.
As I consider Mary I find myself asking two questions.
First, will we find this type of humility beautiful?
Secondly, will we see this type of humbleness as something that is attractive and commendable?
We may quickly say ‘yes’, but I think it would be good for us to consider these questions. We need to consider these questions for two reasons.
First, we ought to consider them because of the current culture that we live in which does not really admire this type of humility.
Secondly, we ought to consider these questions because of our fallen condition which causes us to shun humility and gravitate towards pride and arrogance.
In our culture, and even within the Christian culture, when we hear the words of the proud or see arrogant people we often look upon them with admiration. In some cases, we might even applaud their words and admire their attitude.
Let me give you a recent example of this. Recently there was a lot of media attention given to a man who got up in front of a large congregation and said these words, “Now I told you about my arrogance and cockiness already.” The crowd began to laugh and the person continued by saying, “Now, the greatest artist that God ever created is working for Him.”
To be fair, the man who said these words said it with a smile and with some degree of sarcasm, I think. But it is important for us to consider the way in which the congregation responded when these things were said. They erupted with cheers and applause after he said these words.
(cf – 1 Timothy 3:6 – He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.)
Our concern ought to be that the same culture that can erupt in applause when someone admits that they are arrogant and cocky, might also be a people who will not be able to see the beauty that is in a text like this. They might not be able to appreciate the example of Mary and appreciate the words of praise that she speaks.
Secondly, I would say that we need to consider these questions because it is not in our fallen nature to be humble. On the contrary, it is in our nature to exalt ourselves and to be associated with others who have status.
For example, let’s consider the story of the wedding feast in Luke 14. In the first verse we are told that it was the Sabbath and Jesus was dining at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees. We are told that ‘they were watching Him carefully’.
Then in Luke 14:7 we are told that Jesus notices something about the people there and He decides to address them concerning it. We read, “Now He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noticed how they chose the places of honor...” Jesus sees that everyone is trying to take the places of honor.
So Jesus says that when they are invited to a wedding feast that they are not to sit in the place of honor, lest someone come and tell them to move so that a more distinguished person may have their seat. Instead they are to sit in the lowest place. We read in Luke 14:10, “When you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.”
Today, Mary has given us an example of how we can magnify the Lord.
She has magnified the Lord as one who has been saved
Mary magnified the Lord from the depths of her soul
Mary spoke about the nature and character of God
Mary spoke about the deeds and promises of the Lord
Finally, Mary has magnified the Lord with a humble disposition of heart
It has been my prayer that two things would come from our time in this text.