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The Magnificat

April 23, 2017 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series: Luke

Topic: Redemption Verse: Luke 1:46–1:55

Luke 1:46-55

Theme: Mary models the features of our worship of God for providing us salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

I. An Appreciation for God’s Grace – Luke 1:46-49


  • This eruption of worship from the heart of Mary begins with a statement of adoration – “And Mary said, ‘My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.’”
  • Mary couldn’t contain the inner delight that God caused as she pondered what God had done, was doing, and would do through the child within her.
  • Although “soul” and “spirit” can be used interchangeably to refer to the immaterial part of man, and in our text there may be an element of parallelism characteristic of Hebrew poetry, it is also true that such synonyms used together can signify a difference between them.
  1. “soul” typically refers to that aspect of man’s being that enables him to interact with others - it is a relational term. (1) She acknowledges that God is “the Lord” [τὸν κύριον] – a reference to the Sovereign ruler, possessing all authority over her life. (2) Her response to “the Lord” is that her “soul exalts” [μεγαλύνω] – a reference to causing someone to be held in greater esteem. (3) Because of the grace of God in her life, Mary desired to make the name of the Lord great – for others to hold God in high esteem and thus possessed a desire for a testimony among those around her to be one of magnifying God and His grace (hence the “magnificat” “to magnify” in Latin).
  2. “spirit” typically refers to that aspect of man’s being that enables him to interact with God. (1) With reference to the relationship to the Lord inwardly, she acknowledges that God is “my Savior.” (2) Her response to her “Savior” is that her “spirit has rejoiced” [ἀγαλλιάω] – a reference to the expression of supreme joy, being “overjoyed.” (3) Because of the grace of God in her life, Mary’s intimate expressions of worship before the Lord is to express to Him the supreme joy she had at being reconciled to Him through the Messiah. (4) She was a woman who worshiped God in spirit and in truth – even as her Son would one day demonstrate is essential for true worship – cp. John 4:24.


  • One of the reasons that Mary had such a deep level of appreciation for the gift given through her, was an awareness of the needs she had because of her own sin as she acknowledges that her own salvation is provided to her from God – “… God my Savior” – V. 47
  • She understood the predicament she was in – having no vaunted view of herself – “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave …” [δούλη] – or, “slave” - a reference to a complete absence of one’s own will in subjection to one’s Master.
  • She had already confessed herself as subjected to God – cp. V. 38
  • In light of her perspective, she responds by personalizing the gift available through Jesus Christ.
  • She acknowledges here that she was a sinner like everyone else and was in need of a Savior.
  • Notice the number of times – and the occasion of them – she uses the 1st person pronouns in her worship.
  • The impact of the coming of Christ cannot be understood until a person sees his or her own need - that which brought Him here and from which we are saved.
  • Only when a person personalizes their sinful condition are they able to fully appreciate what is available in Christ – “For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.”
  • What caused such adoration and astonishment at grace was that God could take an unworthy sinner who was in need of forgiveness and cleansing and bless such an one with the privilege of bearing the Son of God.
  • 1This is the uniqueness of Mary’s blessing, but is also the pattern for all of our lives – how God can take sinners like we are and bring Himself glory through their lives.
  1. His intention is that we glorify Him in the face of the unsaved world – Philippians 2:15-16
  2. His intention is that we glorify Him in the assembly of the saints – Ephesians 3:21
  3. His intention is that we glorify Him in the observation of the heavenly host – Ephesians 3:8-11

II. An Awareness of God’s Goodness – 1:50-53


  • From a personal perspective Mary proceeds to a general awareness of the goodness of God to all men – not just herself – “And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him.” - a quote from PSALM 103:17
  • She indicates that a recurring goodness is demonstrated by the indomitable mercy of God towards those who fear Him (equal to those who obey Him).
  • She continues to laud God by saying: “He has done mighty deeds with His arm …” – which she follows up by listing a variety of demonstrations of God’s mighty arm on behalf of His people:
  1. DISPERSED THE PROUD - “He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.” (possibly a reference to the judgment at Babel).
  2. DEPOSED RULERS - “He has brought down rulers from their thrones …” – (possibly a reference to the conquest of Joshua; or, to Belshazzar in Daniel)
  3. DIGNIFIED SAINTS - “He has exalted those who were humble.” – (possibly a reference to prophets such as Daniel; or the shepherd boy David as King)
  4. DISTRIBUTED BLESSING - “He has filled the hungry with good things;” – cp. PSALM 107:8-9 (possibly a reference to the Manna, Quail, and water in the wilderness)
  5. DEPLETED THE SELF-RELIANT - “… and sent away the rich empty-handed.” (possibly a reference to Haman’s destitution in ESTHER 8:5)
  6. DELIVERED ISRAEL - “He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy …” (perhaps a reference to the crossing of the Red Sea during Exodus from Egypt).
  • The general sense of these actions by God is that these works of God are going to be even more magnificently demonstrated through the ministry of the Messiah.
  • Her essential point is that the provision of the Messiah is the apex of all the mercies of God extended to men through His mighty deeds.
  • “Grace is love toward those who do not deserve it because of their guilt; mercy is love toward those who are in misery as a result of their sin and guilt.”


  • However, not all men are able to receive the mercy and grace that is available in the Savior – the Son of God born of Mary.
  • Those who are unwilling to acquiesce to the authority and mastery of the Lord are described as being “scattered” and “brought down,” and “empty-handed.”
  • The indication is that mercy is reserved for those who humble themselves before Him.

III. We Acknowledge God’s Genuineness – 1:54-55


  • God has never at any time failed to accomplish His faithfulness to His people Israel – even His judgments show this!
  • Here Mary reflects that the birth of the Messiah would be yet another demonstration of this – He always fulfills promises!
  • The consummate “help [given] to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy” is the fulfillment of His promise for the Redeemer – the child soon to be born of her!


  • Not only are we able to look to past demonstrations of the mercy of God, God also possesses an ever-relevant awareness of His purpose to redeem men through His mercy – “… in remembrance of His mercy …”
  • This is the reason that the Messiah was given – that He might fully accomplish what He promised to Abraham – “… As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.” – cp. Genesis 12:1-3; Acts 3:25-26.
  • We ought (as Mary did) to recognize the genuineness of God’s accomplishment in sending the Messiah, see the goodness of God toward sinful men, and then personalize the gift of His Son in heart-felt and devoted worship – cp. 1 John 5:11-12; John 3:16.


More in Luke

March 18, 2018

Responding Properly to the Truth

February 25, 2018

Somebody Call 9-1-1

February 18, 2018

The Authority of Christ to Forgive Sins