In the Dec. 6 Baptist Messenger, we began to consider Mary’s song in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus. This song is often called the Magnificat because of the key word in the opening phrase, “My soul exalts the Lord.” Exalt or magnify means to make great. Mary’s response to all that was happening was a deep desire to make great the Lord’s Name.
Read again her song of praise from Luke 1:46-55:
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 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.”
Mary’s song has been deemed dangerous. William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, warned missionaries in India to never read the Magnificat in public when unbelievers were present. He was afraid that the song would incite riots, even revolution, in the context of the abject poverty and injustice in India. It has been called the most revolutionary document ever written.
Jesus, the Savior, intervenes in an upside down world to set things right.
Mary’s song is marked by six verbs. The Savior is the subject of each one: scatter, bring down, exalt, fill up, send away and help. Jesus brings about a great reversal. Mary’s song reminds us that people with status tend to reject Jesus and those without status more easily embrace Him. People with status prefer the status quo.
The religious leaders, the king, the people with a place to lay their heads paid no heed to the birth of Jesus. The Lord had to rustle up a group of shepherds to come celebrate. The priests, the leaders and the people with social standing were largely disinterested in Jesus the Nazarene. It was the public sinners, the broken and poor who were hungry to hear His Good News.
James, the brother of Jesus, and the leader of the church in Jerusalem must have learned to sing his mother’s song. He says, “…the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation…” (James 1:9-10). Jesus lifts up those who are down and brings low those who are exalted. If you have status, be warned—it is hard for you to humble yourself and receive a Savior who was born in a barn and died on a cross.
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God” (1 Cor. 1:26-29).