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Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

Mary's Song (Luke 1:46-56)

    Today is the fourth and last Sunday of Advent. Today is the day we celebrate the Love of God, and we prepare our hearts for Christmas and the return of Christ by remembering the great love He has for us and the love He calls us to have for others.
    This morning I want to look at what I consider one of the greatest parts of the Christmas story. No, it’s not the angel appearing to Mary or Joseph, it’s not the shepherds in the fields, it’s not the kings. It’s the song Mary sings after she has learned that she will be the one to bring the Messiah into the world, and after she visits her cousin Elizabeth who was carrying John who would prepare the way for the Messiah. This is the song Mary sang after the unborn John leapt for joy when Mary came close because she was carrying the Christ-child. This song, is Mary’s reflection of how great God’s love is.
    I’d love for you to join me in Luke 1:46-56. “And Mary 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 bond-servant; For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. And His mercy is to 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 hearts. 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 the rich away empty-handed. He has given help to His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, Just as He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.” Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.”
    In the next chapter, Luke 2:19, we’re told that after Jesus was born and the shepherds came, that Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. I imagine that pondering was much like this song. It’s a reflection of just how amazing God’s love was for her, and for her people, and for all of us.
    She starts first by reflecting and praising God for being her SAVIOR. That’s your first bulletin blank if you want to take notes this morning. Unlike many others Jesus would encounter throughout His life, his mother Mary didn’t miss the importance of His coming. She knew who He was. The angel told her who her son would be. He was and is the fulfillment of so many Old Testament hopes, so many prophecies about the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, who would save the people from their sins.
    I wonder, as Mary sang her song and pondered these things in her heart, if God called to her mind Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is righteous and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
    This was a verse that prophesied the coming of Christ to Israel, but I wonder if Mary didn’t take this call to rejoice as a personal call as a daughter of Jerusalem. She knew that the son she bore would be the one bringing salvation.
    The angel confirmed this to Joseph as well, as we can read in Matthew 1:21; and when Jesus was older, He confirmed it of Himself. In John 12:47 we have him saying to His disciples at the last supper, “If anyone hears My teachings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” He came to save the world. Mary knew this, and she praised God.
    Then Mary sings, “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond-servant;” and she praises God for His REGARD for her. That is your next blank in your bulletin. I love this word, regard, because it has so many different meanings, and each of them holds true for the interaction between God and us.
    Look at Psalm 40:17, “But I am afflicted and needy; May the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my savior; Do not delay, my God.” Here, the Psalmist is asking that the Lord would be mindful of him. This is one of the meanings of the word “regard”. It means that God is thinking of us, that He keeps us on His mind and does not let us leave His thoughts. We are always on His mind.
    Now, Isaiah 41:13, “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” Here, the regard He has for us is that He takes our hand. That in of itself has lots of meanings, but two prominent meanings come to mind. He takes our hand, much like a parent does with a child as a sign of love and protection. It’s a sweet moment that reminds us that the Lord is the best Father that we could ever have. He also takes our hand to guide us, to show us where He would have us go, and to keep us away from things He knows are not good for us.
    Then there’s the regard He shows us as seen in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will also help you, I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Here, His regard is to uphold us, to give us strength and help. We know all too well that there are times in our life that knock us down and bring us to our knees. In those times, God regards us, and out of His regard for us, He lifts us up, keeps us from falling, gives us strength to keep going on, and gives us whatever help we might need to do that.
    Or what about Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you.” Here, His regard for us teaches us and instructs us. I know this is something I’m never in short supply of. I think I must have this conversation with Him a dozen times every day, “God, I don’t know what to do about…x, y, and z, could you teach me what to do?
    All of these verses are Old Testament verses because I wanted to show that these were all ways that God regards His people that Mary would have been aware of through Scripture. But, I don’t want to leave out 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” In God’s regard for us, He comforts. He is the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, and then, He enables us to comfort those who are in affliction just as we have been comforted by God. He looks down from His heavens with such high regard that He gives us not only what we need for ourselves, but gives us enough to share with others too!
    So, Mary praised God for all these ways that He regarded her, ways He looked out for her, ways He comforted her, taught her, upheld her, guided her, thought of her, loved her.
    “For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.” Mary sang. Here, I’m sure, there are too many blessings and great things to count. Who here knows all that God has blessed them with and how many great things He has done for them?
    We know the big ones, His salvation, His changing of our hearts, maybe a number of times when God intervened in your life in a big way and you said, “That was God!” But do we know all the ways He has blessed us? All the things He does for us each and every day? The idea is that as we spiritually mature, we tune our hearts to see His works more clearly, but I’m sure that in my own life there have been things that God has done that I didn’t recognize.
    Mary was wise, and she looked upon all that had happened just recently for her, and knew that she needed to praise God for His blessings and all the great things He had done for her, even if she didn’t know them all. But she knew the big one, the biggest one, the one that would have her be called blessed by all from then on. She was blessed, this young teenaged girl, blessed to bear the Son of God, the Savior of the World, because she was humble and found favor in God’s eyes.
    We look at her song, a song much like Deborah’s and Hannah’s and Miriam’s and marvel at how God shows His love in the most unconventional of ways, and how He works His wonders in the least likely of people: an unwed, teenaged, girl.
    I love that Mary doesn’t just praise God for His love for her, she goes on. “And His mercy is to generation after generation Toward those who fear Him.” Here, she singles out God’s MERCY, your next blank in your bulletin.
    Look at Micah 7:18, “Who is a God like You, who pardons wrongdoing And passes over a rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy.” Even after looking back over Israel’s history, and how God brought consequences upon His people for their unfaithfulness, He could not keep His anger forever. Why? Because He delights in mercy. Sometimes, we really need the hard lesson, we need the consequences, but what God delights in is showing His mercy toward us!
    Or Lamentations 3:22-23, one of my favorite passages, “The Lord’s acts of mercy indeed do not end, For His compassions do not fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” His acts of mercy never end! I love that it says that His mercies are new every morning. I have found this to mean that not only does He give me more mercy everyday to live in a state of grace, but that He often finds new ways of giving me mercy, too!
    Mary was well aware of God’s mercy, and that His mercy comes out of His great love for us!
    Mary then sang, “He has done mighty deeds with His arm;” Again, we find that those mighty deeds are too many to count. Mary was specifically thinking though, of all the mighty deeds He did for His people in their past, all His miracles: Abraham and Sarah having Isaac and an old age; the plagues on Egypt; the crossing of the Red Sea; manna in the desert. His mighty deeds are numerous, and Mary counts her bearing the Christ-child as one of those mighty deeds, and rightfully so! There is nothing else in all of creation and all of history as miraculous and mighty as God coming in human flesh. No other deed has ever spurred as much praise, excitement, confusion, doubt, and wonder as the Incarnation of Christ!
    “He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 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 the rich away empty-handed.” Mary sang next.
    Here, Mary is actually singing about God’s PROVIDENCE, which is your last bulletin blank. Providence here is referring to the ways that God works to bring about what is best for us. When we are proud in our hearts, He works to humble us, because a humble heart is better for us than a proud heart. He exalts those who are humble before Him because it is good for them to experience His victory. He fills the hungry with good things, which gives us the impression that it’s not just hunger for food that Mary was talking about.
    I’m reminded of the beatitudes from the sermon on the mount, when Jesus says that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed. Perhaps, Mary was talking about this hunger, a hunger for the things of God, and the fact that He satisfies that hunger with good things, things from Him. But, those who are rich, who think they have no need for God, and those who do not hunger and thirst for Him, those He allows to not have those good things, because He is trying to bring about their recognition of their need for Him.
    Psalm 23:1-3 talks about how the Lord gives us everything that we need, everything He knows is good for us. Proverbs 16:9 though, talks about the type of providence that Mary sang about, that even though a person plans out their way, God will direct their steps to try to bring about what He knows is good for them. Proverbs 21:1 says that even a king’s heart is like channels of water in the Lord’s hand, and that He can turn their life wherever He pleases. Mary praised God for always doing what was best for us, even if it means less than pleasant situations, He is always working for the goal of seeing us saved.
    “He has given help to His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, Just as He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.” Mary finished her song. She does point out God’s love specifically to Israel and how He showed that love, but the way He showed that love is the focal point of the entire Christmas story, the point of it all: Immanuel
    Immanuel, God with us. He is what all of this is about. Mary’s song is about all the ways God has shown His love, to her, and to all, but the most important way is for Him to have come down to be with us. Remember John 3:16? What was the motivator for God sending His only Son?
    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son,” Love was the motivator. Love is the motivator still. God so loved the world. This is the great scandal of all time, that God should show His love for us: people who’s every thought is inclined to evil, people who may never love Him in return, people who are ungrateful and unfaithful.
    But still, He made this promise, “Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” Immanuel. God with us. For God so loved the world.
    It was for this reason, that Mary sang her song. It is for this reason that we have any hope, peace, joy, or love of our own. Because God so loved us first.

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