The Book of Luke, The Worship of Mary and Elizabeth, Part V - Lesson 11
Luke 1:46-54, And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for I behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
1) Mary is a model disciple in her faith in the word of God, and in her submission to the will of God.
2) Mary is a model disciple because she knew the scriptures.
3) Mary is a model disciple in her grasp of the grace of God, and in her gratitude toward God for bestowing grace on her.
4) Mary is a model disciple in that her praise was not only a personal expression of worship I but also was edifying to Elisabeth.
We are led to the conclusion that Mary's praise was spoken in the hearing of Elisabeth, just as Elisabeth's praise was spoken to God, but for Mary's benefit.
In both cases, the praise of God spoken before others was done in such a way as to edify and encourage those who heard.
Their praise was pleasing to God and it has been preserved for our edification.
We can learn much about praise from this brief passage that God has given to us.
The praise of Elisabeth and Mary provide us with a model for our own worship and praise.
Mary and Elisabeth's praise of God went much further than just gratitude for the gift of a child.
Mary's praise began with her own experience, but quickly linked this with God's character and actions in the past (His ways) and then with His promises regarding the future.
Our prayers and our praise seem so shallow when compared with that of these two godly women.
Much of our praise tends to be based almost exclusively on our pleasant and pleasurable experiences.
Much of our praise tends to focus primarily on what God has done for us.
We must seek to dwell much more on the character of God, of His promises, and of His working in history, as well as in the future.
Praise that is Biblically based will come from a continual immersion and meditation in the Scriptures.
As we come to the Thanksgiving and Christmas season we should desire to and then pattern our praise after that of Mary.
She did not focus on the tiny baby Jesus, but in the God who sent that baby to redeem us and for the future purpose of making that which is crooked straight.
This is the God who provides the Messiah for redemption and salvation, and the God who will be "setting right" those things which are unjust and evil.
These things are still future for us, as they were for Mary, for they will be accomplished at the second coming of our Lord.
Our praise then, like that of Elisabeth and Mary, should not only seek to exalt God, but also to edify those who may hear it.
Don't we find that too often we find ourselves almost performing before others, using our praise to speak to men, to convey some message to them, rather than to God?
We even may find ourselves performing for others in our public prayers and not remembering that it is God to whom we speak.
Mary's praise was addressed to God, but in adoring God she also encouraged and edified Elisabeth, just as Elisabeth's praise encouraged her.
As the apostle Paul put it I "let all things be done unto edifying" (1 Cor. 14:26a).
As we are given a glimpse of this godly conversation between Elisabeth and Mary we ought to take from it what it is to be a disciple of Christ.
This account should instruct and inspire us in the disciplines of discipleship.
We hear Mary and we hear Elisabeth and this hearing gives us a picture of what can come from those who are students of God's
Word, those who are obedient to His commands.
We see what kind of Christian we can be by the working of God's Spirit in our lives though His word.
Finally, as Mary did so eloquently in her maqnificat, we should strive to see beyond the birth of the baby to the end for which the child came - to restore and reconcile fallen men to God and to one another.
The world, may at Christmas time only focus on the birth of the baby Jesus for that is sweet and requires no decision or commitment, but the Christian like Mary is to focus on the purpose for which that baby came.
While Christ's coming meant more than saving men from their sins, this was the beginning, the prerequisite for all that He would accomplish.
The miracle of the virgin birth, which is the basis and "the starting point of the praise of these two women, is analogous to the miracle of the new birth which every man, woman, and child must experience to have eternal life and to live the kind of life which our Lord requires.
Jesus Christ had no earthly father.
As far as the new birth is concerned it also requires no earthly father.
In fact the new birth demands no human agency, no human hands are welcome in the transaction.
Only that which is Holy is welcome.
The new birth is all of God and none of man.
Mary knew no man and yet she was the mother of our Lord, who was born of the Spirit of God.
Luke 1:35, And the angel answered her and said, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.
Jesus Christ came into this world in a miraculous way.
Jesus Christ is the first fruits of this miraculous way and all who come to the Father must come in the same way.
Throughout the Old Testament, the miraculous ministries of God's chosen instruments often began by a miraculous or unusual birth.
The births of Isaac (Genesis 12-21), Samuel (1 Samuel 1 & 2), and Samson (Judges 13), are examples of such miraculous or unusual births.
It is not at all surprising to find that the births of both John and Jesus are miraculous, for the lives of both are miraculous.
Based upon the scriptures I think it is safe to say that every miraculous birth resulted in an extraordinary or miraculous life and ministry.
There are many today who seem to think that they can live according to the standards and principles of the Bible by setting their minds to it.
This is not so, for no man's mind is up to it.
Man's mind cannot be man's savior!
We are not saved by intellect!
The Bible requires that men live a life which is miraculous, a life that is humanly impossible. Romans chapter 7
What is miraculous?
Miraculous means an act performed supernaturally, or by a power beyond the ordinary agency of natural laws; effected by the direct agency of Almighty power, and not by natural causes.
God-said that his grace is sufficient but His grace is made effectual though the New Birth.
There is only one way that a man can live according to the Word of God and that is by our experiencing a miraculous "new” birth.
This is why the Lord Jesus Christ told Nicodemus that he must be "born again," even though he was a prominent teacher in Israel (cf. John chapter 3).
There are many nominal "Christians" who are trying to live an impossible (miraculous) life, yet who have not been miraculously "born again."
Many may wonder why living the "Christian life" is so hard in spite of the fact that Jesus said his yoke is easy and his burden is light?
Perhaps it is because some may be trying to live a miraculous life, without having had the indispensable "new birth."
Jesus' command to Nicodemus, His command to me, His command to you is that you must be born again.
This command is so clear and can only be muddled by a wicked heart.
So as your God given messenger my obligation to those who have never been born again is to exhort; you to experience this new birth through faith in Christ this very day for now is the day of salvation.
God has given you "now he has not yet given you tomorrow.
We are not to tempt the Lord by any delay.
There have been no promises made to any of a tomorrow
Some think that they will be a Christian by "trying harder to live a good life".
But they need to learn that becoming a Christian, being "born again" is illustrated by the birth of Mary’s child, and not Elisabeth’s child.
John the Baptist was born through the actions of Elisabeth and Zacharias, which God supernaturally brought to conception and birth for Elisabeth was well stricken in years and barren all of her life.
However this is not the way men are saved.
Salvation does not result from our efforts, which God somehow miraculously blesses.
Our salvation comes about in the same way that Mary's baby was conceived - totally by the sovereign work of God, apart from any effort which Mary would make.
God does the work of producing life in us, just as He brought about life in Mary.
We but need to believe and to accept God's work, but we must leave the working to Him, and not to ourselves.
Just as Mary did concerning the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Luke 1:38, And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.
Salvation is God's miraculous work in us producing new life.
The Israelites felt that their physical link with Abraham was sufficient to save them, but they were wrong, and John would later challenge this false belief (Luke3:8).
As our Lord Himself said later, those who obey His word are His sisters, brothers, and mother.
Physical relationship to Christ is not nearly as important as one's spiritual relationship.
What is your spiritual relationship to God?
Are you trying to get a hold of God by what you think is your goodness or are you letting God take hold of you knowing that you have no goodness worthy of his notice.
Be it unto me according to His word!