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November 27, 2021 3:00 am
Christmas is all about cheese, so it only makes sense that the very first Christmas songs recorded in Luke's gospel are all about him today on Truth for Life weekend we kick off the Advent season with a special series titled songs for a Savior. Alistair Begg begins our study today with Mary's song chapter 1 and verse 46 song of Mary and Mary said my soul glorifies the Lord in my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble estate 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. His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation. He is 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 is filled the hungry with good things, but is sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendents forever. Even as he said to our fathers. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home on one of the first signals that we have moved into the Christmas season and of course this is already very clear to, as is the fact that the music in public places, changes nobody really announces it just all of a sudden you realize that you're walking through the mall to the tune of jingle bells or some other deeply theological piece of work is beginning to look a lot like Christmas or as I was saying coming this morning is beginning to look a lot like Glasgow and if you wonder what it be like to live in Glasgow.
Imagine this now continuing for the next three months and you realize why Cleveland is such a wonderful place to stay and you don't have to go away to Florida. Like many of you do.
But anyway, the change in the music gives us an indication of what's going on.
And so it's not a particular surprise to discover that in the narrative here in Luke's gospel that Luke himself punctuates the story of the birth of Jesus with a series of songs. The first of these is the song of Mary, the Magnificat is referred to.
The second is the song of Zachariah the third is the song of Simeon are a focus in the past. In looking at the Magnificat and incidentally Magnificat is just the first word in the Vulgate in the Latin translation of the New Testament. That's what gives to us the word the Magnificat. If you come across it Magnificat and not on the abdomen whom which is the opening phrase of it. When he looked around and in the last couple of occasions we have focused I think a little bit on Mary herself in the place of Mary in the purposes of God. This morning I want us actually to focus entirely on the one of whom Mary sings, namely God himself know the background of the song I must leave for you to fill in on your own. You can read around it. When you go home this afternoon and when you do, you will discover that, for example, from about 26 and following. That's verse 26 the background to the song is a combination of the natural and the supernatural. It is the interweaving of things that are ordinary and things that are clearly extraordinary.
So for example of the use of a lady going to have a baby's ordinary news. The way in which this baby is going to be conceived or has been conceived is extraordinary and you and so when you look at the text you discover that Mary, in response to the arrival of the angel is greatly troubled. Verse 29 she's fearful and she wonders when she is given the explanation for the conception of this child, because after all, Mary is engaged or betrothed to Joseph, they're not 21st century couple engaging in the privileges of marriage outside the bonds of marriage and so there is no indication that she would never have that this would be true of for how could you possibly have conceived a child when she's had no physical relationship with the one who's going to be her husband.
Well, the answer calms that which is conceived in you is by the Holy Spirit. This is entirely supernatural and then her response that is entirely natural how it was this going to work out and then the Holy Spirit through the angel speaks again and then eventually in a spirit of submission in verse 38.
She says I'm the Lord's servant may it be to me as you have said. And with that the sort of supernatural, extraordinary element on the concludes and then a fairly routine and ordinary element begins. Namely, I like any lady as you would say hi need to go and find somebody to talk to about this and so Luke tells us that Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea where she entered. Zachariah sold and greeted Elizabeth. Elizabeth was her cousin and what you would have taken place. There is a kind of girls night in and in contemporary terms.
They were once again a chick movie and had popcorn and I felt each other's tummies and I talked about ends and the boys a girl that green. The elder penguin are related to the crib and all that kind of stuff is routine using what you have here is what you would expect here you have humanity and you have deity, you're the supernatural intervention of God and you have the natural responses of these girls to the privilege of childbirth and is Mary reasons and that she responds her lips declare her devotion and she launches into song, and she sings my soul glorifies the Lord in my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, or if you like she sings tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord, you might say that what we have in this song is a song of overflowing thankfulness that emerges from the overflowing generosity of God himself. And as you consider the song at your leisure. Later in the day you will realize along with me that she's not singing about herself is jolly good. She's singing about who God is and what God has done a tremendous amount in this short song and our time is constrained and so we're going to look at the song with with three words in mind okay what we are. So you know where were going. The words are mindful mighty and merciful God is mindful God is mighty God is merciful. If your Bible is open before you, you should be able to look into the Bible and understand why it is that we would have these words you don't want them to be an invention something that I've come up with a scheme to be pressed down upon the Bible. Rather, it should become apparent to you that it is legitimate for us to see these three things from this particular passage. First of all, then God is mindful, you will notice that Mary speaks initially in terms which are personal. Verse 48 for he that is, God has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. In other words, God has been mindful of me.
Mary says God could have found a rich, noble, powerful queen who lived in a palace but is yours not to do so. He's come instead to a lowly maiden who has no apparent significance whatsoever of she means something to the immediate family and friends that she knows beyond that she's an unknown quantity. Just a slip of a girl in the inevitability of Mary's response is a response of everyone to God's mindfulness doesn't mean that he has been mindful offer. The Oxford English dictionary defines mindful as taking thought or taking care or keeping remembrance all okay taking thought, taking care keeping remembrance all Mary says my soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, because he has taken thought of me. He is taking care of me.
I am in his remembrance. But she doesn't sing simply in personal terms. You will notice that she sings also incorporate terms and you need to go forward to verse 54, 55 to see this. He has helped his servant Israel not only his servant Mary and he's remembered that's the same word for mindful. He's mindful to be merciful to Abram and his descendents forever. Even as he said to our fathers another significance in this is as follows that God is mindful of Mary is an individual because he is mindful of his people as a company or significance in the scheme of God's plan of redemption is entirely related to the purpose of God to choose out for himself a people that are his very own, and that people is the focus of his love and of his concern. They are if you like the very Apple of his eye and the wonder of what it means to be in the remembrance of God is directly tied to being part of the people of God.
Know this is what a little history helps and many of you been here for a long time know that your Bible like mine can go very very easily to Genesis chapter 12 in verse three because we turn to it. So many many times and there in Genesis 12 the Lord is speaking to Abraham. He calls them out from his people and from his country and his household and he calls them to go to a place that is going to show in and the promise of God to Abram is verse two of Genesis 12.
I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you and I will make your name great and you will be a blessing and I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse. And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you are strange, strange statement how a lot of God call this man from a pagan background out of the order of the qualities and to make this amazing covenant with them, and how Abraham marveled at it and how. As time went by, when he and Sarah were still childless. They wondered how would it possibly be that God could fulfill a promise through his seed when he didn't have any.
How would this promise be fulfilled if he did not have a child and then of course you have the wonder of God's intervention in that and all the way through the Old Testament God is seeing again and again to his people. I am mindful of you and I will fulfill the promise that I have made the people listen to the prophets as they came they listen to the judges as they spoke. They knew that this the prophet Isaiah meant something when he said, for unto you, a child is born unto you a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders and his name will be called wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, and the Prince of peace and of the influence of his reign there will be no end, and he will reign on the throne of his father David for ever and ever. His kingdom will never come to an end and the bright people of the time would sit around and have Bible studies and sable.
This must be all part and parcel of the fulfilling of God's promise to Abraham and they must have concluded that it is absolutely right. Perhaps the point of the mystery that was contained in the very words for unto you, a child will be born pretty naturalist, and unto you, a son will be given child will be born humanity's son will be given deity because you see Jesus the son revealed in Bethlehem is the eternal son with the father and the Holy Spirit, the second person of the Trinity did not begin to exist in Bethlehem, God the son was in eternity with God the father and God the Spirit and so you have this amazing interface between that which is divine and that which is human revealed.
Ultimately, in the person of Jesus himself, but coming back to this notion of history in the days that were dark and difficult when the promise of God seemed to have dimmed and seemed so unlikely. The people of God may even have said to one another, just in a phrase like this will don't forget God is mindful God is mindful generation would rise in the generation would go and people would come and grandparents would pass on the little ones would not rise to positions of influence, and still the people of God are holding onto this covenant promise that God made to their forefathers Abram through your seed all the nations of the art will be blessed because God is mindful when the psalmist means of this he says in Psalm a Disney, what is man that you are mindful of your mindful of you remember you see the greatness of God is not revealed in his isolation from us by the greatness of God is revealed in his intimacy with us.
We tend to think of greatness in terms of isolation and the more money you get, the longer you can make your driveway the more money you get, the further you can remove yourself from the general hoi polloi, the more status you acquire, the more you can remove yourself from humanity. People will have to come and approach used through various channels, and so on.
You might end up in Buckingham Palace you might be able to have security all around you and everyone will look as they drive down the mall and they will save wow.
That's the Queen in their she is so remote from ours. She's so great she's isolate. I haven't had a phone call from her in the last 26 years.
Her greatness is revealed in how isolated I am from her but God's greatness is revealed in his intimacy with us that in the person of Jesus. God says CS Lewis has landed on this enemy occupied planet and he's landed in human form because he is mindful for the Lord their God says. Zephaniah will be mindful of his people and restore their fortunes, so the people who lived in between the Testaments of you like in those in that one sheet in your Bible which he should really tear out because it makes you think that you've almost go to Bibles but in the blank page in the middle of them in between Malachi and Matthew you will you take it out at it by the people who live in it who lived in that section. Then they found themselves rehearsing God's promises, but it must've seen for so long in the darkness that God had forgotten where is all this stuff about the people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
In those living in the land of the shadow enlightens Dawn where is all this stuff going to be and then suddenly said that the main in the routine ordinariness of her anticipated marriage to this boy Joseph who must've loved her with a passion because of the way in which he responds to the news that comes his way in the routine of her life. The angel Gabriel comes and says a married your highly favorite wife. She must've pulled the covers up under 10 when the when Angel laughed and said maybe this is this mindful thing. Maybe this is this promise because we know it childless to be born son skip what to me is not about to train get her agent together a slot on Oprah so that she can talk about herself.
She closes her bedroom door and she buries her face.
She says my soul magnifies God, my spirit rejoices in God. Yes, you are my Savior, for he has been mindful of me and say he finally found out how significant I am. He has been mindful of the lowly state of his handmade. Secondly, God is mighty God is mighty the picture in verse 51 of his arm being bared is obviously in anthropomorphism, which is a good word if you are having a real run at Scrabble God was. Obviously has no arm to bear. Therefore, when it says that he is bared his holy harmonizing Exodus 6 in bringing his people out of Israel. It is a picture to help us understand this mighty God has stepped forward, you find that again and again, for I am the Lord your God takes hold of your right hand and says do you do not fear I will help you and God himself extends his arm and saw in her song she mentions this as she reflects on what God has done throughout history. She realizes that he is mindful of his promises and he is mighty in his deeds. He is a merciful Savior but he is also a mighty warrior and as a mighty warrior. He turns human attitudes upside down.
Notice this, he has performed mighty deeds with his arm. What is he done what he is taking what society, what culture, what men and women laying greatest store by any is demolished. It looked carefully, one he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. Secondly, he has brought down rulers from their thrones.
You can go through the whole of the Old Testament, and you can see that happening again and again you can go through social history, and you can see it happening again and again, the proud empires of the world of eventually crumbled, and I think all of them eventually will, there is only one kingdom that will last forever and ever and ever. There is only one king, one majesty, before whom we ought about. And thirdly, he sends the rich away empty. Those of the hungry with good things. Says here have some more of this for the rich sends them away empty. See the paradox in this rich empty empty rich who are the people who shouldn't be empty rich people by what you want it where you like go where you choose, he sends the rich away empty. Is it possible to be rich and empty. I think so because the more the rich have of the wealth we made price. The emptier and more hollow things will be seen to be unless we are to discover true riches for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, so that we through his poverty might become rich. See no man or woman can ever really handle material wealth until they have discovered that there genuine and truest riches are found in Jesus when that matter is settled then all the benefits that he may give to you all the privileges that you may enjoy enjoy may then be used in a way that recognizes the fight that God is mighty and he sets down the proud and the arrogant is Alister bag with a reminder that God is not only mighty is also mindful of us. Your listing to Truth for Life weekend teaching the Bible is our mission Truth for Life. We try to do that in a way that's clear and relevant. We know when God's word is faithfully proclaimed.
Unbelievers will be converted.
Believers will be established in local churches will be strengthened. We also work hard to carefully select books that will deepen your faith help you grow in your relationship with God.
So were extremely excited about our current book recommendation. It checks all of our boxes and the author is a favorite here Truth for Life. The book is titled Truth for Life 365 daily devotions and you guessed it. It's written by Alister bag. This beautiful hardcover book is filled with the clear solid Bible teaching that you have come to expect from Alister at the end of each entry, you are prompted to apply what you've just read to your own heart and life. The Truth for Life devotional is a great way to allow God's spirit to work through his word so you can deepen your faith in 2022 and let me suggest this makes a perfect Christmas gift. Find out more about the book Truth for Life 365 daily devotions you visit our website at Truth for Life.orc and Bob Lapine.
Thanks for joining us today. Hope you can be back next weekend when Alister explains why Mary's song is the song we want our children and grandchildren to say the Bible teaching of Alister bag is furnished by Truth for Life learning is prolific