In this Bible-study, we will examine Mary’s Magnificat, her praise to God when she visited Elizabeth. It is found in Luke 1:39-56.
The Angel Gabriel had told Mary that, although she was a virgin, she would conceive and deliver a son who would sit on David’s throne as king over Israel forever. Clearly, Gabriel was saying that Mary’s miracle child was the Messiah.
Gabriel had also told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth had conceived a son, even though she was old and barren—for nothing is impossible to God.
Therefore, Mary went to visit Elizabeth. When she came into Elizabeth’s house and greeted her, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (in verse 15, Gabriel had told Zechariah that the baby would be filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb).
Filled with The Spirit
Take note of the progress: Mary greets Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s baby (who was filled with the Spirit) leaps, and then Elizabeth is filled with the Spirit. Because Elizabeth is filled with the Spirit, she blesses Mary and Mary’s child—whom Elizabeth acknowledges as her Lord.
In response to Elizabeth’s blessing, Mary blesses and praises the Lord (God). Was Mary also filled with the Holy Spirit? The text does not explicitly say that Mary was filled with the Spirit, but her praise to God may indicate that she was indeed filled with the Spirit (compare with Ephesians 5:18-21).
When we are filled with the Spirit, the Spirit influences how we speak, how we relate to others, and how we relate to God.
Mary’s words are known today as the Magnificat, a song of praise to God. Mary’s Magnificat is reminiscent of Hanna’s praise (1 Samuel 2:1-10)
Who Was God to Mary?
In her praise to God, Mary identifies God as the Lord (v.46), her Savior (v.47), the one who is mighty (v.49), and the one whose name is holy (v.49).
These concepts are found in the Tanach, the Old Testament (which was the Bible available to Mary at the time),
What did God do for Mary?
In her praise to God, Mary declares that God has done some things for her: he looked on her humble estate (v.48), he caused all generations to call her blessed (v.48), and he did great things for her (v.49).
Mary adds that, throughout the generations, God bestows his mercy on those who fear him (v.50).
What Is The Meaning of God’s Work?
Mary declares that God has done other things:
- (1) Shown strength with his arm
- (2) Scattered the proud despite their thoughts (plans)
- (3) Brought down the mighty from their thrones
- (4) Exalted the humble—of which Mary is one (v.48)
- (5) Filled the hungry
- (6) Sent the rich away empty-handed
In a spiritual sense, the birth of the Messiah (Jesus) did these things:
- (1) It was miraculous event
- (2) Jesus would oppose the proud religious leaders of his time
- (3) No one else, but Jesus, is God’s appointed king (compare with Psalm 2)
- (4) Jesus would teach that those who humble themselves would be exalted (Luke 14:11, 11:14)
- (5) Jesus would teach that the hungry would be satisfied (Luke 6:21)
- (6) Jesus would speak against the rich (6:24, 12:21)
Mary’s Magnificat, then, appears to tell us about the miraculous and spiritual nature of the Messiah’s kingdom.
God Fulfills His Promises
Ultimately, Mary sees the birth of the Messiah as help for Israel, which she identifies as God’s servant (compare Isaiah 41:8-40); and, she also sees the Messiah’s birth as a fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham and to Abraham’s offspring (Isaac and Jacob, maybe even the prophets of Israel).
Questions for Reflection
- What has God done for you?
- How is Jesus, God’s Messiah, relevant to you?
- How are you expressing and sharing your gratitude to God?
Praise God and thank Him for sending Jesus and for all He has done for you.
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