Preparation for his Birth
Day 15 Sunday, December 12th
1. Recognize the Context:
After Mary encountered the angel Gabriel (1:26-38), she went to meet Elizabeth (1:39-45). Upon their initial greeting, John leaped for joy inside Elizabeth’s womb. Then Elizabeth, empowered by the Holy Spirit, pronounced a blessing over Mary. She responded with a song of praise, which has traditionally been referred to as the “Magnificat.” This title comes from the first word in the Latin translation of the Bible called the Vulgate (pronounced vuhl-geyt), done by Jerome in the 4th century A.D.
2. Read the Scripture: Luke 1:46-55
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
Mary’s hymn of praise reflects the content and structure of various Old Testament songs and Psalms. However, there are significant parallels evident in Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving for the birth of Samuel (1 Sam. 2:1-10). The references to Hannah's prayer are in parenthesis below.
Mary began her song rejoicing in God because he intervened in her life (1 Sam. 2:1). It appeared that Mary had some idea of the magnitude of the task to which she had been called. But more importantly, she was familiar with the God who had called her. Her song described him as holy, merciful, and powerful. He is the God who can bring about the reversal of situations by humbling the proud and mighty and then exalting the humble and needy (1 Sam. 2:4-8). Mary acknowledged the significant role her son would play in the redemption of Israel (1 Sam. 2:10) and through Abraham's descendants to all the nations of the earth.
In this song, several attributes of God are identified, including his holiness, mercy, power, sovereignty, and his compassion for the lowly. Two distinct titles are used of God--Savior and Lord. Incidentally, Jesus had already been identified as holy (Luke 1:35) and Lord (1:43), and it would only be a matter of time before He would be called Savior (2:11).
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, pray about one or more of God's attributes from this passage.
How do these impact your understanding of who God is and how he works in the world?
Prayerfully consider how the New Testament uses these characteristics to describe Jesus?
Thank God for how you have seen his attributes manifested in your life recently. Be specific.
To do: (With the Holy Sprit's help)
How do these attributes impact your life today? How do they affect the lives of those around you? (family, friends, etc.) Identify one specific action you can incorporate into your life today?
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)
The Bible is filled with passages on the themes found in Mary’s song. Here are just a few examples to get you started. Read and prayerfully reflect on these passages. Share what you discover with someone.
Rejoice/Rejoicing--Psalm 97, Philippians 4:4 Holiness--Leviticus 11:44, 45, 1 Peter 1:13-15 Mercy--Psalm 25, 51, Ephesians 2:4-5
Use a concordance, Bible app, or a website like biblegateway.com and search other verses on these characteristics of God.