In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever."
This is such an important and rich passage. Mary’s response is often called Mary’s Magnificat, meaning an utterance of praise. There is so much in this passage that could be commented on, but there are two things in particular which are certainly worth noting.
First, Mary begins by saying, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Mary immediately knew that the child she was carrying inside was to be the salvation from God, the savior of the world. Not only would Jesus provide salvation for all humanity but would provide salvation for Mary herself. Mary recognized that even she was in need of salvation, of deliverance from sin.
The second important point from Mary’s Magnificat is that God’s “mercy is for those who fear him.” Salvation and eternal life are not for everyone automatically, but for those who tremble before the holiness of God, who are willing to acknowledge their sinfulness, acknowledge their need for a Savior, that Christ is that Savior, and then are willing to bow the knee to the lordship of Christ and say, “You’re the Lord and I’ll follow you the rest of my life and live in obedience to your commands.” For those willing to do that, for those who come to Christ in humble repentance, he exalts “those of humble estate” and fills “the hungry with good things.”
Jesus himself will later say, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (Jn. 6:35). Only in Christ, only as we come to Christ by faith and embrace him as our God and Savior, will we find fullness of joy, eternal contentment, and unending satisfaction. This is the meaning of Christmas! This is what we celebrate during the Advent season.
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