This week, I was preparing for our Connect Group lesson at Southern Calvert Baptist Church. We are walking through the Bible over a three year period and, after two years, we have finished the Old Testament and now we are going to begin the New Testament. Our study of the New Testament begins with the Gospels. We are going to focus on the Gospel of Luke. The lesson for this week does not focus on Mary’s song of praise, but, I want to write about it because it really moved me. Depending on the denomination, Christians generally have two views of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Catholic and Orthodox Christians venerate Mary to the point of almost being god like herself. She is often presented as being the mighty mother of Jesus. Many are taught to pray to her so that she can manipulate her Son Jesus on their behalf. In the Protestant denominations, we tend to downplay Mary as a reaction to the Catholic and Orthodox veneration. She is often presented as a simple peasant girl who just happened to be chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah. The Scriptures present her somewhere in the middle of these two views. She was a godly girl who had a relationship with God. She was also a good student of the Old Testament Scriptures. In the ten verses that hold her song of praise to the Lord for being chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, she make seven Old Testament references. Mary quotes directly from the Old Testament twice. Mary was a simple Jewish girl who had parents who taught her the Word of God. She knew the value of virginity as taught in the Old Testament and she was obedient to the teachings of the Word of God in reference to human sexuality.
I. Mary praises God based on His nature
The idea of worship is presented in the Bible as attributing worth to one who deserves that worth. Mary worships/praises God based on what she knows about His character.
46 And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. (Luke 1)
Mary refers to God as the Lord. The word of “Lord” in the Greek language is “kurios“. This word means “supreme ruler or master“. Mary has a relationship with God because she has bowed her knee to Him as the Lord of her life. This is the same thing that happened to Abraham in the book of Genesis. Abraham connected with God because God revealed Himself to Abraham as Lord. Abraham bowed his knee to God as his Lord. Mary, being a student of the Word of God, responds to God the same way that Abraham did. Not only does Mary acknowledge God as Lord, she also acknowledges Him as Savior (Rescuer). I am reminded of Abraham once again. He came to know God as Lord and then He came to know God as Savior. Mary’s life and relationship with God is a mirror image of Abraham’s relationship with God. Again, Mary is very familiar with the teachings of the Old Testament so I know that she is aware of Abraham and his walk with God. If you want to know more about the character of God based on His Names in the Bible, I have an entire teaching series on the Names of God that you can read by clicking on the hyperlinks below. You will learn names like:
- El Elyon
- El Roi
- El Shaddai
If you would like more information about these Names of God, I highly recommend that you order and study the Precept Bible study, “Lord I want to know You“.
II. Mary praises God based on His actions
As I mentioned in the previous section, Mary is a student of the Word of God. Not only does she know the character of God, she also knows how God has interacted in human history, based on the teachings of the Old Testament.
49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.
50 “AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.
51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.
53 “HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed.
54 “He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.” (Luke 1)
Mary quotes from Psalm 103 and Psalm 107 in this section of her song of praise to the Lord. Mary is intimately familiar with the way that the Lord worked in and through His people, the Jews, specifically referencing Abraham. She knows of the promises of the Lord to Abraham and to his descendants, the Jews. Mary praises God because by bringing the Messiah into the world through her, God is keeping His eternal promises to Abraham and his descendants.
III. Mary praises God for what He has done for her
Many people want to praise God based on what He can DO for them. Mary also praises God for what He has done for her but, that is not her main motivation for praise.
“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. (Luke 1:48)
Mary humbly accepts what the Lord has done for her. She does not view God like many today view Him. Today, many people tend to view God the same way that they view a genie in a bottle, saying things like, “I will worship and praise God as long as He is good to me“. The minute that He does something that they do not like, they turn their backs on Him and shake their fists in His face. Mary was not like this. She praises God based on who He is and what He has done. He is worthy of her praise without having to do anything for her. The things that He does for her are just a benefit. If they were taken away, she would continue to praise Him because He deserves it. What motivates you to praise God? Do you praise Him with hidden motives or, do you praise Him because you know Him and know that He deserves it? Are you a good student of the Word of God the way that Mary is? Do you consider God your Lord and yourself as His bondservant? When God does not do what you want, how do you respond?
May the Lord help us to learn from Mary and her real relationship with God!