Dec18TueDecember 18, 2018
I was really struck by this post and it reminded me just how scandalous the birth of Jesus would appear from a human perspective. This was the viewpoint apart from heaven coming to earth. It was the unplanned pregnancy that saved us! This is the birth that brought us to the place of full salvation.
However, from God's perspective it was all part of the plan and the timing was perfect. We read in Galatians 4:4
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
"The time had fully come" In other words, there was nothing unplanned from the viewpoint in heaven. God in His perfect timing knew the political, social and cultural conditions were completely set to launch the plan for the Saviour of the world.
However, you still you just have to imagine the process that Mary went through and she, apart from Christ himself, is very necessary to this whole Christmas story!
The story that has been given to us Luke 1:26 – 56 is an incredible description of events for her. Let's take a step back and imagine what she felt, what she struggled with, and what she believed, as she embraced the plan of God for her life.
Mary did you know? like the song written by Mary Lowry.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U2G8wsbXBo
Did she know the far reaching implications of what was about to happen to her and through her to impact the world in a way that would change it forever?
What did she know?
She knew she’d been visited by an angel. Vs. 26
She knew by the angel’s words that God was with her. Vs. 28
She knew that she had been chosen by God or had “found favour” with God. Vs. 30
She knew she was going to have a child… more specifically a son. Vs. 31
She knew what to name him. Vs. 31
She knew that he would be the Messiah, however she understood that to be. Vs. 32, 33.
She knew that God the Holy Spirit was the Father and that her child would be the Son of God vs. 35
She knew that this was somehow all tied to her cousin Elizabeth’s baby. Vs. 36.
It’s really not a lot of information to go on if you think about it. And the angel didn’t address any of Mary’s questions beyond the “Do not be afraid,” basically, you got this comment.
Mary must have had questions although I’m not sure she ever had a chance to voice them. Maybe even a few objections cropped up in her mind initially.
I’m not ready to have a baby. This isn’t fair.
Why would God choose me?
I’m no one special.
How will I tell Joseph?… we aren’t married yet.
How will I tell my parents?
What will people say?
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know how to raise the Son of God.
What if I teach Him something wrong?
What if I do something wrong to Him?
I’m sure all of these thoughts and probably more were racing through her mind in the wake of the angels visit. But one thing the angel had said seemed a little out of place. The angel had said that this whole thing was somehow tied to the baby that her cousin Elizabeth was carrying. Mary knew about the miraculous conception of Elizabeth in her old age. Elizabeth had been barren for so many years. …What did that have to do with this baby? Maybe Elizabeth could help her understand all this.
Elizabeth lived up in the hills of Judea so Mary doesn't hesitate to make the journey to go and visit with her cousin Elizabeth. When she arrives, Elizabeth greets and prophesies over Mary, and it’s the verse 45 really stands out.
“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
Mary’s response to what was happening to her would be wrapped up in her level of faith!
Blessed is she who has BELIEVED!!
You see Mary hadn’t been given a choice. She was chosen by God. The baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She was going to give birth to the Son of God one way or the other. The significant thing for us to note here is HOW she responds to the situation that has been thrust on her.
The question is whether she would go along be-grudgingly, an unwilling participant in a plan she had no control over? Would she complain and shake her fist at God about how unfair it all was? Would she do the bare minimum as a parent, providing basic nurture and food and water and clothing, but reserving her love because she had no choice in this whole scenario?
Would she feel like she was never doing a good enough job? Always wondering if someone else could have done this better.
But this isn’t what we observe in Mary’s situation is it?
Elizabeth hits the nail on the head when she says to Mary…Mary…where is your faith? This is about believing. If you believe Mary, you will be blessed and everything the Lord has spoken to you, this great plan of bringing hope, peace and a Savior to the world…Mary it will be accomplished because you believe!
I never really thought of it this way before. That part of the plan for my salvation… for your salvation, hinged on the fact that a teenage girl chosen by God would have to choose incredible faith – would have to believe that what God had spoken to her was true and would come to pass, so that the Saviour of the world could come to earth and ultimately become the sacrifice for our sins.
And Mary’s response to Elizabeth’s words in the next 10 verses, tell us that she absolutely believed. And in the moment of Mary’s believing, I believe the Holy Spirit revealed to her some things that we observe in these words of worship we now know as the “Magnificat”
Let's look at three main truths that really stick out of Mary's Song of Worship
1. God’s Salvation Is Personal
vs. 47 …my spirit rejoices in God MY Saviour
She recognized her own need of a Saviour…that this child she was carrying who would be the Saviour of the world, would also be her Saviour too.
vs. 49 …The Mighty One has done great things for ME!
Sometimes we think that there are too many songs focused on me but here’s the truth, salvation is deeply personal. It was for Mary and it is for us to. God wants to meet us in that quiet place, a place of vulnerability and openness to Him.
vs. 50 …His mercy extends to those who fear Him.
Romans 3:10 states “there is no one righteous, not even one.”
Mary understood this. We all need a Saviour. If you’re here today and you haven’t come to that realization yet, consider this. The woman who brought the Son of God into the world, understood that her child , Jesus, would be her Saviour.
And if you need a Saviour today, it’s really quite simple to receive Him.
Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
2. God’s Kingdom is “Upside Down” to the way the world thinks
In vs. 51 – 53 Mary speaks of things that could only have been revealed to her by the Holy Spirit. Most of the people in Israel were looking for a Messiah who would take down the Roman empire by force and set himself up as a king and deliverer over Israel. They were looking for a revolutionary.
But in these verses, Mary has some insight into what Jesus’ kingdom will really be like. It will be an upside-down kingdom in the eyes of the world.
…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
What are some examples of our upside-down kingdom and the way God has shown that to you personally?
• the first will be last
When I got my first full time job as a youth pastor, my prof at Seminary said, “well, you were a dark horse!”
• in your weakness will be your strength
• God picks those who the world picks last…the choosing of David, the youngest…
The way of Jesus is countercultural. It is upside-down and inside-out—a kingdom, where weakness is power, power is weakness, and suffering leads to glory.
Really, it is the world that is upside down – God’s kingdom is what brings it back to normal. Turns it right side up.
What Mary was saying was that Jesus came for everyone. One preacher said it this way.
“The humble are valued by God, and even the arrogant can humble themselves and become right with God. The oppressed can find mercy and help. The oppressors can stop their oppression, and find grace. Those who are weak can be strong in God. The strong can admit their weakness apart from God, and find true strength.”
Jesus wants to take your life and put it right-side up today.
3. God is a God of Covenant
God keeps His promises. Mary spoke about God’s faithfulness to His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever. This is a reference to God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants…the children of Israel.
He had promised them not only a vast land and numerous descendants, but also a deliverer. A Messiah. And at last, the Messiah was to come to them through Mary.
So Mary believed and in believing, she had revealed to her some incredible insight into the plan of God for the saving of the world.
But there is one more thing I want to note about Mary – even beyond her faith.
She did believe, and that made an incredible difference in her attitude toward this whole scenario. But she did more than believe.
She EMBRACED what God was doing through her and she took it on as a joy.
How do we know that? Well, look at the song of praise we just spoke about. As Elizabeth prophesied over her, her response was one of worship to God for what He was doing through her life.
She was EMBRACING what God had planned for her as the mother of Jesus.
She took the responsibility on whole-heartedly. Later at the stable, after the shepherds had gone, we’re told that Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
That’s the kind of thing you say about a mother who is embracing what is happening to her.
She and Joseph made sure that Jesus was presented for consecration at the temple. Vs. 39 of Luke 2 says that “Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord…” with respect to raising Jesus.
When He was 12 they took Him to the temple for Passover. It’s the picture of a mother…and a father, who were embracing the responsibility of parenthood.
You see, believing in Jesus is one thing. Lots of people believe in Jesus – they believe he lived and was a great teacher and that He died – some even believe he was raised from the dead – but they still haven’t EMBRACED Him for themselves.
Now to me, that’s what owning the miracle of Christmas is all about.
Mary made her faith in Jesus, personal.
Mary had a choice to make. She could play a role in this first Christmas story and just be a player in the miracle of the incarnation
she could literally OWN the miracle for herself? Embrace the plan that God had for her life and be changed by what God was doing through her?
It took great faith for her to EMBRACE what was happening to her. But what a difference it made!
Remember Elizabeth’s words…”Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Just for a minute, picture that scenario in your minds … how it might have played out.
Now…you might be here today and you’ve never owned the miracle of Christmas for yourself. Maybe you’ve always believed IN the story; that God sent Jesus on that first Christmas to be born in a manger – but you’ve never EMBRACED the truth for yourself.
Today is the day of salvation!
My thanks to Duane McLean for his insights compiled in this post!