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III. Magnificat

When Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb, a new kind of power and authority entered the world and produced a new joy. Before Jesus, kings and rulers used their power to oppress the poor and the weak. But although the fallen world declared that might makes right, through what He did in Mary, God declared that might makes things right for others. Do you have power? Bless the humble. Are you rich? Bless the poor. Are you strong? Bless the weak. By ruling with mercy, grace, kindness, and compassion, Jesus forever changed what it means to be a king. The world had never seen a king like this before, but after getting a good look at Jesus, she started to lose interest in any other kind of king.

King Jesus overturns proud and selfish rulers by showing them up as He gives mercy to those who fear Him. Those who do not fear Him learn to fear Him the hard way. But even the judgments of this King are merciful, because fearing God opens the spigot of mercy. By teaching the mighty and the proud to fear, He is preparing them to receive His blessings.

Why does Jesus use His kingly power so differently? Because God had made Abraham a promise thousands of years ago, telling His friend that He would bless the world through him. God came to Mary in order to fulfill His Word to Abraham, and He did it by sending a merciful king as one of Abraham’s offspring. This remembered mercy causes Mary’s soul to magnify the Lord.

The glorious good news is that this mercy also belongs to you, because by sharing Abraham’s faith, you share Abraham’s blessing. Are the proud lording it over you? Are you distressed because of who’s on the throne? Are you a nobody, an obscure servant? Are you hungry? Then Advent is for you! Through the womb of a humble young woman, God sent a merciful king to help Abraham’s children, so let your spirit rejoice!

Here is the encouragement that Mary’s song offers to you: if you are humble and insignificant, if you aren’t rich or beautiful or smart or powerful, this does not mean that God hasn’t blessed you or doesn’t care about you. In place of these lesser things, God blesses you like He blessed Mary: by filling you with Jesus. That is why Mary’s joy is also your joy. What God did quite literally for Mary, He does spiritually for you. When you are filled with Jesus, you, share in the blessedness that Mary knew, and so you share in her joy.

In addition to new joy, the birth of Jesus also introduces the world to new strength. Before Jesus, strength was seen as the power to do great things, but now strength is the power to do great things for others, as in Luke 1:49. Jesus shows you what power and might are for: whatever God has given to you, He gave it to you so that you could bless those of humble estate. This is new strength: strength that came not to be served, but to serve. God has filled you with strength so that you can fill others with joy by blessing them. The humble need to be exalted – visit widows and orphans in their distress. The lowly need to be defended – protect the weak, and ensure that the poor get justice. The hungry need to be fed – fill them with good things. God gives strength to the body of Jesus to carry out the work of Jesus.

Now combine the ideas of new joy and new strength: the joy of the Lord is your strength. By yourself, you are a humble servant. You can’t scatter the proud or topple the mighty. But God fills humble servants with Jesus, and Jesus is the kind of king that makes all other kings look bad. Your joy in being Jesus’ servant shows the world a better king, and in this way the work of bringing down the mighty from their thrones is begun.

This is what caused Mary to burst into song: out of her womb, God brought a new kind of strength into the world that fills the world with new joy. May every soul magnify the Lord in holy fear, and may every spirit rejoice in God our Savior!

Posted on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 by CJ Bowen