Sunday, December 16, 2007

Advent 2007 (II): Mary and Her Relative
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Mary and Her Relative1

Intro.: I have a funny habit – a habit that irritates my kids, but one that my wife loves.

  1. I sing songs to her.

  2. I make up little ditties that express my love and commitment to her as we drive along in the car.

  3. She likes it – especially when I come up with some words that makes sense.

  4. My kids don't like it – they feel the need to tell me I can't sing.

  5. And that is what Mary is doing for God in today's passage.

Read: Luke 1:39-56


Trans:I want to begin by making a few observations

  1. Mary had remarkable knowledge of scripture.

  2. In the ten verses of the Magnificat, she quotes no less than 15 OT passages.

  3. Mary's trip from Nazareth to Judea would have taken 3 to 5 days, depending on where Elizabeth lived in Judea. We are never told – only that it was a “town in the hill country of Judea”

  4. According to Gabriel in verse 37, Elizabeth was already six months pregnant. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months – meaning she probably stayed long enough to help Elizabeth for a short time after her baby was born.

  5. Though we will only look at one of them, there were actually three responses to Mary's arrival in Elizabeth's home

    a. Elizabeth's baby, John the Baptist, leaped in her

    b. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit

    c. Mary shared the scripture we will be studying today.

  6. Mary's song had long been known as the Magnificat – which comes from the Latin for “Magnify” - the first word in the Latin Bible.

T.S. I want to look at the three stanzas of the Magnificas it leads us to praise God for all he has done.

  1. The Magnificat reminds us that God cared for Mary

    1. I will sometimes fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself – afterall, some pastors have bigger churches, some believers have better cars, some people seem to have it together better than I do. In fact, if I were Mary, I think I might be tempted to fall into that trap.

    2. If I were a 13 year old girl, I would not be very happy to find out that I was pregnant. Yet, at what could have been the most horrible time of her life, she does not. Instead, she begins to focus on what God has done for her:

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.

    1. Even as Mary found herself in what could have been one horrendous predicament, she continues to look to God.

(Ill.) Howard Rutledge found himself in a predicament too. As a pilot during the Vietnam war, he was shot down. He was able to parachute to the ground safely, but immediately captured and imprisoned. In his book, In The Presence of Mine Enemies, he describes how he and his fellow prisoners of war survived. Part of what they did was to go back to the lessons they had learned in Sunday School – the stories, the scriptures, the songs. For example, they remembered the song

Showers of blessings,

Showers of blessings we need!

Mercy drops round us are falling,

But for the showers we plead

      He also tells that every soldier seemed to remember Psalm 23 and the Lord's Prayer. But he goes on to recount that the most often quoted passage was neither of these, but John 3:16 - “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”1

(Appl.) You see, whether it was Mary or a Prisoner of war or you and me, when life gets tough, we can turn to God's word as a source of strength.

  1. The Magnificat reminds us that God cares for us

    1. Mary begins by reminding us that God cared for her, but she continues by reminding us that God's care goes beyond just her:

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.

    1. Five times in these ten verses Mary uses the words “He has ...” to mean that “God has ...”

    2. She acknowledges that God is at work what ever may come.

(Ill.) In 1620, the Pilgrims came to America to find religious freedom.2 One of messages that they brought with them to New England was that “God was at work behind every catastrophe, and that He still spoke not only by the still, small voice but also by the thunder, the snow, the hail, the absence of rain, and if necessary even by death.”3

(Appl.) Mary, even her most confused moments, did not forget what God had done. Neither can we.

  1. The Magnificat reminds us that God cares for His people

    1. Mary begins by looking at how God has been with her. She continue by exploring how God has worked in the world around her. She finishes by looking at God's work among His people:

He has helped his servant Israel,

remembering to be merciful

to Abraham and his descendants forever,

even as he said to our fathers.

    1. We are not merely gathered here because of what we have done. We are here, because there have been lots of people that have come before us. They provided a building, they nurtured us. Some of you are here because of this church has done, some of you are here because of the blessing you have received from other churches. But none of us are just because of this group.

(Ill.) I am reminded of a song I heard several years ago by an artist by the name of Ray Boltz, “I Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb.” The words can be found at

    1. Saints gave their lives so that we could hear the gospel message today. May we never forget that our faith came because of the work of others – and may we do the work that will leave a legacy for those to come after us.

Conclusion: Let me conclude by suggesting this. I said earlier that Mary composed her Magnificat by choosing 15 verses to be her testimony. They were her testimony, but they were God's words.

  1. As you come through this holiday season, take time to think about your testimony.

  2. What verses would you choose to build your Magnificat?

  3. Then share you song with someone – your spouse, your co-worker, a friend.


1Much of this sermon is based on marterial discovered during my family's study of Beth Moore's book Jesus: 90 Days with One And Only

1Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (58). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.


3AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

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