Luke 1:46-55 records the spontaneous worship of Mary,
the teenage girl pregnant with the long-awaited Messiah,
as she encounters her cousin Elizabeth,
who is also miraculously expecting a child of divine promise.
In Mary’s position, I’m not sure I would suddenly spout a hymn of praise.
But Mary did.
Much like Hannah’s song (1 Samuel 2:1-10), sung generations earlier as she dedicated her own divinely promised son to the Lord, and like Stephen’s future speech (Acts 7) declaring Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people, Mary goes on to exalt God’s faithful, wondrous deeds and His just judgment.
Mary knew the covenant God had made with Abraham (Genesis 15) and rejoiced at seeing its fulfillment as she carries, births, and nurtures the Messiah, God incarnate.
“His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.”
Here, Mary’s words echo the psalmist:
“As a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.”
(Psalm 103:13; see also Psalm 89:2-4, Psalm 100:5, and Lamentations 3:22-23)
God’s steadfast love and mercy reach all generations through Jesus. Through His sacrificial death (also a fulfillment of prophecies, such as Isaiah 53), Jesus would forever rescue His children from the power of sin and death. Through His death, He gives us a second “birth” into new spiritual lives. (John 3:1-21) When we repent by turning away from our sin and embracing Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are justified through Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to partner with God in His work.
Jesus would also embody the next lines of Mary’s song (Luke 1:51-53), in which she describes how “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
From His lowly birth, through the majority of His life spent in obscurity, to His years of ministry consistently showing compassion to society’s outcasts (Luke 5:29-32), Jesus’ life was marked by humility.
As we read the gospels, we also see Jesus unafraid to stand firm against the pride and hypocrisy of the religious leaders. (Matthew 23:1-36) This posture was consistent with God’s character as revealed time and again throughout the Old Testament.
Centuries earlier, He scattered the proud following their slapdash efforts to resist God’s leading and make a name for themselves in the city of Babylon. (Genesis 11:1-9)
Even as far back as the first children born of humans, Cain’s proud heart turned against his brother, ultimately killing him; God warned Cain against this sin and subsequently exiled him. (Genesis 4:1-16)
Simultaneously, Israel’s history is woven together with God’s mercy and compassion toward the humble, the oppressed, those considered far away from God.
Each one of these women is included in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-16), further evidence of God’s steadfast love and mercy throughout the generations.
In the closing lines of her song, Mary praises,
“He has helped His servant Israel,
remembering His mercy
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as He spoke to our ancestors.”
We can feel Mary’s deep assurance;
YHWH was her God.
As Jesus grew and started His ministry, Mary watched her son, the Messiah, call out sin, legalism, and idolatry over and over. (Matthew 21:12-13)
But she also witnessed in Him that same steadfast love and mercy she learned about as a child. Jesus’ harshest rebukes were reserved for the sanctimonious religious leaders, yet, Jesus followed even these revelations of sin with an expression of God’s tender desire to draw those same people to Himself as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wing. (Matthew 23:37) Over and over, Mary witnessed the Word become manifest in the physical form of her son as Jesus offered compassion, mercy, and salvation countless times.
Mary’s words of praise, uttered three decades before Jesus’ resurrection, came true.
The steadfast love and mercy of the Lord
will indeed last forever.
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