Mary’s Song of Praise
Today we continue our series in the Songs of Christmas. Today’s song is the most famous of the five songs recorded in Scripture at announcement of Christ’s birth. The song is Mary’s Song, often called the Magnificat, the Latin word that begins Mary’s praise.
A song can change the world.
A Korean Rapper named PSY has now become the most watched youtube video ever. His video “Gangman Style” has been viewed over 1 billion times on youtube.
Just twenty years ago, a country broke away from their domination by the Soviet Union in a bloodless revolution called The SINGING Revolution. It was the early days of the END of COMMUNISM in Europe. One of the first countries to break free was ESTONIA. From 1987, a cycle of mass demonstrations featuring spontaneous singing eventually collected 300,000 Estonians in the national capital to sing national songs and hymns that were strictly forbidden during the years of the Soviet occupation. This peaceful rally would be huge in any country, but it was especially large in Estonia where it represented 1/4 of the country’s population!
The Singing Revolution lasted over four years, with various protests and acts of defiance. In 1991, People acted as human shields to protect radio and TV stations from the Soviet tanks. People held hands and sang Estonian national songs that had been banned by the Soviets for decades.
And just last year singing of certain songs was banned in Syria. During the beginning of the Syrian uprising in the summer of 2011, Ibrahim Kashush was singing songs in Syrian squares — songs of protest. “Come on, Bashar, get lost,” he sang. “Take your brother Maher and take off. Get lost, get lost. Freedom is very near.”
The Asaad regime slit his throat, cut out his vocal cords, and threw his body into a river. All because of fear of a song.
(Jay Nordlinger, National Review Online, “The danger of song,” August 4, 2011 )
Song’s can be a dangerous thing!
Mary’s Song is a revolutionary song!
It was the very first Christmas Carol
But it was also a revolutionary song. Dr. E. Stanley Jones, the great Methodist scholar, author and evangelist, said that the Magnificat was “the most revolutionary document in the history of the world.”
That’s quite a statement to make, isn’t it? But consider this. Years before Dr. Jones made that statement, William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury, instructed his missionaries to India never to read the Magnificat in public when unbelievers were present. Why? Because in a country like India with all its poverty, this portion of Scripture, if taken out of context, would cause nothing but trouble.
(Ray Pritchard, “Jesus the Revolutionary,” Dec. 1991)
Let’s examine the words of her song.
Luke 1:46–55 (NIV84)
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”
Mary rejoices because of God’s power to change the unchangeable.
THIS is REVOLUTIONARY!
Mary’s song consists of two main parts. The first is her personal reflection on God’s work in her own life. Mary speaks in the first person and blesses God for the mighty things that he has done in her life. In this first part, Mary describes God’s Power to Change ME.
The division between the first and second section occurs after verse 50. The second section is the revolutionary part because it is here that Mary addresses the prophetic promises of Christ’s ultimate work to establish his kingdom and bring in righteousness. Mary’s words become stronger, with a sense of God’s coming judgment. She sings this part of her song in the third person and uses the future tense, so sure of the coming rule of righteousness that she speaks as if it has already happened. In this part of the song, Mary describes God’s Power to Change the WORLD.
Let’s examine both parts of this powerful song.
Part 1. God’s Power to Change ME.
This section is contained in verses Luke 1:46-49. The key is verse 49. “For the mightyone has done great things for ME.” “Mighty one” is possibly a reference to “El Shadai” so frequently used in the Old Testament.
God promises a SON to ABRAHAM. “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.”
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
What did God do for Mary?
God ELEVATED the humble! “For he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” (Luke 1:48)
God REARRANGES things for those who trust in Him! This is the theme of HANNAH’s SONG. 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
It is not a coincidence that God chose for the birth of his son:
2 poor teenagers, with no education, from Nazareth, not Jerusalem. Folks from Nazareth were looked down upon by the upscale, self-righteous people of Jerusalem. They had no money, no parent-training classes, no seminary education. The only thing that Mary and Joseph had going for them was their trust in God! But that was all that God needed!
Why Did God Bless Mary in this way?
Because Mary was humble in her heart. Notice the Biblical contrast between the PROUD and HUMBLE. Mary notes humility of heart three times in her brief song:
1:48 “mindful of the humble”
1:51 “Scatters those who are proud”
1:52 “He has lifted up the hunble”
She reflects a greater spiritual principle: The HUMBLE are RAISED, the PROUD are LOWERED
“He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.””
“The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled),
MARY’s SONG is the song of every many or woman who has nothing in this world but God!
This brings us to the second major part of Mary’s song, found in Luke 1:51-55. Mary speaks of
God’s Power to Change the WORLD.
Mary continues the theme of the ALMIGHTY and his POWER in verse 51. “He has performed mighty deeds with his arm.” (Luke 1:51)
“Performed” (NIV) is Greek ðïéÝù. Although it does not appear the same in many English translations, the word translated “has performed” in 1:51, is the same word as “he has done” in 1:49. This word ties the two sections together reminding us that God’s power was at work in Mary’s life and also at work in His greater plan for the entire world to be carried out through the life, death and resurrection of his Son.
Another similar use of words that tie these two sections together is the emphasis on God’s power or might. Notice 1:49 “mighty one” and 1:51 “mighty deeds”.
Mary now addresses the things in this WORLD that the Almighty will Change through the birth of the Son she is carrying.
The PROUD will be brought low. 1:51 “He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.”
RULERS will be brought down from their thrones. 1:52
The HUNGRY will be filled. 1:53
ISRAEL will be remembered. 1:54
We find that there are TWO points of emphasis to be made as we consider God’s power to be brought to the world through his Son. These blessings come NOW to ALL who humble themselves before God. Although we live in a fallen world, there are blessings that come to those who submit themselves to God and follow his Son. Our lives are always improved when we love the Lord and follow Christ. Homes are better. Communities are improved as people follow the ways of God. Even countries are better when the citizens of that country follow God’s ways and love his Son. This is the reason that God has blessed America. There have been so many here that Love God’s son!
The Bible demonstrates this principle of temporal blessings in the following ways:
who walk with God will be blessed.
“The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous.”
“They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, an you will be saved—you and your household.””
that walk with God will be blessed.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
America has been blessed because of our Christian heritage.
Although we can enjoy these blessings now, they will not come completely, nor will they come to the WHOLE WORLD until Jesus rules on the Davidic throne during His kingdom.
“Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.”
“And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.”
Philippians 2:10-11, “Every knee will bow….”
As Mary reflects on God’s blessings to her, she focuses on MERCY
But as she reflects the proud, she focuses on JUDGMENT
If you are NEEDY, God’s MERCY is for YOU! God’s POWER is for YOU. God will change things in your life! “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37)
If you are PROUD, A relationship with Jesus will only come to those who Humble themselves. God will TURN THE TABLES on all of the things that you trust in.
A Relationship with JESUS is not a casual thing. Faith in Christ will produce a REVOLUTION in your life.
There is no such thing as casual Christianity.
Come Join the REVOLUTION!