Week commencing 17 February 2019

Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on Luke 1:39-56 – that God’s eternal promises were being fulfilled Part I.

With a PDF found here

Next Sunday will be the fourth in our Term 1 series: “Luke – you can be certain…”

Here is the outline:

03 Feb How? Luke 1:1-4
10 Feb …that John the Baptist was a gift from God Luke 1:5-25
17 Feb …that Jesus was miraculously conceived Luke 1:26-38
24 Feb …that God’s eternal promises were being fulfilled Part I Luke 1:39-56
03 Mar …that God’s eternal promises were being fulfilled Part II Luke 1:57-80
10 Mar …that a Saviour was born who is both Messiah and Lord Luke 2:1-21
17 Mar …that Jesus brought God’s salvation Luke 2:22-40
24 Mar …that Jesus grew in wisdom and favour Luke 2:41-52
31 Mar …that John preached a baptism of repentance Luke 3:1-20
07 Apr …that Jesus was God’s Son whom he loved Luke 3:31-37
14 Apr …that Jesus was tempted as we are, yet was without sin Luke 4:1-13

DAY 1: Read Luke 1:39-45

Back in last week’s passage in v36, Gabriel had told Mary that Elizabeth her relative is going to have a child in her old age -in fact she was already 6 months pregnant. Mary must have been excited by Elizabeth’s news, as well as her own news, and so she sets off to visit Elizabeth and Zechariah in a town in the hill country of Judea. We don’t know the precise location, but we do know that is in the country. The hearts of both women were obviously lifted by the visit.

It is wonderful to note that as soon as Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby leaped in her womb AND Elizabeth was also filled with the Holy Spirt. (You will recall that the baby she was carrying would be filled with the Holy Spirit from before birth.) Perhaps it was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that Elizabeth declares Mary to be ‘the mother of my Lord’. JC Ryle in his commentary, says that these words were ‘nothing less than a distinct declaration that the child who was to be born of Mary was the long-promised Messiah, the “Lord” of whom David in spirit had prophesied, the Christ of God. Viewed in this light, the expression is a wonderful example of faith.”

The phrase “the Lord” is way more serious than the way it often falls off our lips. They apply to him who was crucified for our sins and every use of them by us should fill us with a holy reverence. Remember that no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3) and that one day every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! (Phil 2:11).

Elizabeth declares Mary as blessed, both because of the child she will bear and because she believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises made to her. She had recognised that Mary’s child would be the Messiah, would be her Messiah, which explained the baby leaping for joy, and she has also seen that which we saw last week, Mary’s trust in God’s word and her surrender to his will. How we need to live out such profound trust! The heroes of Scripture lived by such trust. By trust they embraced God’s promises and by trust they lived and walked with God. By trusting God, they endured hardships. By trust they looked to Jesus and the good things yet to come. By trusting God, they did battle with the world, the flesh and the devil. By trusting God, they overcame and persevered. We need a revival of this deep and glorious trust, both in our own lives, and in the world today! Blessed is the one who believes that the Lord will fulfil his promises!

DAY 2: Read Luke 1:46-56

Mary responds with praise to all that God has declared he is doing at this point in history. Many Christians will know Mary’s song as The Magnificat from the Latin referring to the opening words ‘my soul magnifies the Lord’. She adds ‘and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour’, with the result that she has immediately identified and praised God both as her Lord and Saviour.

I want us to note first, that Mary knew her Bible (our Old Testament) well. There are many expressions reminiscent of various Psalms and we are reminded of the Song of Hannah in 1 Samuel, in response to the news that she was going to have a child following a long period of waiting (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Because Mary was so familiar with her Bible, when her heart exploded with deep praise for God, she naturally used these words which were precious to her. This is a great reminder and challenge to us of the joy of being immersed in God’s word. Not only will we like Mary, draw from Scripture in our response of praise, knowing Scripture will also sustain and strengthen us through trials.

Note second, Mary’s deep humility. She who was chosen of God to the high honour of bearing and nurturing the Messiah, speaks of her own ‘low estate’ and acknowledges her need of a Saviour. She does not claim in any way to be above any of us or to be sinless which some have claimed. On the contrary, she uses the language of one who has been taught by the grace of God to know her own sins, and so far from being able to save others, requires a Saviour of her own! We also need Mary’s humility! We need to be lowly in our own eyes and think little of ourselves. Humility is the highest grace that can adorn the Christian character. Not everyone will be called to a great role such as Mary, or to those roles we consider ‘great’ today. Not everyone will be learned or highly gifted or preachers, but all children of God ought to be clothed with humility.

DAY 3: Read again Luke 1:46-56

In this week’s notes, we are dealing with this portion of Scripture – namely, Mary’s song – more thematically than verse by verse. So, I want you to notice third, Mary’s very great and real thankfulness.  She acknowledges that even though from a lowly background, many will call her ‘blessed’ because the Mighty One has done great things for me. We cannot imagine what Mary was feeling about finding herself in this position, but we should note her gratitude and repeated expressions of praise. It is again, a mark of her humility.

How thankful are we for all that God has done for us? Such thankfulness is a mark of King David and a mark of the Apostle Paul. We seldom read much of their writings without finding them blessing and praising God. We too ought to rise each day with the realisation that God’s mercies to us are new every morning. We were once dead, but have been made alive through the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. We have many more mercies than we deserve. How we need to be people of praise!  I love the new song we’ve been learning at our 930am services which you can see hereOur sins they are many, his mercy is more. (If you’re reading a paper copy, try http://tiny.cc/oyx42y). Let’s regularly review our lives and see how much there is for which we ought to be grateful. If our hearts are in the right place, we won’t find any difficulty in coming to God with thankful hearts. It would be a great thing, and very appropriate, if our prayers and supplications were more mingled with thanksgiving. See 1 Samuel 7:12 and Philippians 4:6.

DAY 4: Read again Luke 1:46-56

As we consider Mary’s song, please note fourth, Mary’s acquaintance with God’s former dealings with his people i.e., the history of God’s plans of salvation. She speaks of God as one whose ‘mercy is on those who fear him’ and as one who ‘scatters the proud, puts down the mighty and sends the rich away empty’, as one who ‘brought down rulers from their throne’ ‘but has lifted up the humble’. Again, she knew her Bible. In today’s terms we might say she had an excellent grasp of Biblical theology, that is, the unified purposes of God revealed throughout all of Scripture.

Mary understands that God’s actions in causing her to carry the eternal Son of God, the Messiah, is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham way back in Genesis 12 and in other places; that he would bless them by making them into a great nation and making their name great and make then a blessing to other nations. Mary’s pregnancy and then the birth of the Lord Jesus, was the moment that would bring those promises to a final expression of hope for the people of God and for all the nations i.e., the Gentiles. Mary rightly saw all that was happening to her, as the focus point – the pinnacle – of God acting in the world in accord with his ancient promises.

The greater our grasp on God’s dealings with his people, his promises, his actions in the world; the deeper will run our trust that God is for us; that his plans for us are good and that he will finally deliver those of his promises which are yet outstanding, namely the consummation of his kingdom, the end of all evil and his eternal visible reign of righteousness!

Praise God for his greatness, his saving power, his mercy, his patience and his faithfulness to his promises!

Resources: Luke, Leon Morris in the Tyndale series,
JC Ryle commentary on Luke, and Michael Wilcock in BST series.