Luke 1:46-56


There are two kinds of joke tellers: the good and not good kinds. The differences between a good and not so good type are how the story is told and the punch line delivered.  The good joke tellers never miss a crucial element within, and they deliver the punch line flawlessly.  The not so good joke teller will miss some critical features within the storyline, which causes the punchline to fall flat; or, they will focus so much on the storyline, they lose sight on the delivery of the punch line. A good joke needs the story and punch lines to be delivered flawlessly for the joke to have maximum laughter.  

Similarly, Mary's hymn of praise has two parts: the heart of the song and the theology in the song.  If we are to gain maximum edification in Mary's song of praise, then we cannot forget the importance of both parts and how they correspond with one another.  Elsewise, the heart of the song or theology in the song loses some significance and power. 

This means we cannot forget last week’s sermon on the heart of Mary’s song.  We cannot fully appreciate the theology in her song if we lose sight of the heart of her song.  

Remember, the cause that gave Mary the heart to sing this powerful hymn started with Elizabeth praising the fruit of her womb and blessing Mary.  Mary caught "the holy flames from the aged Elizabeth, broke out into a humble acknowledgement of her unworthiness, and the wonderful grace of the Almighty, in appointing her to an exalted honor of bearing in her womb the Redeemer of Israel."[1]We capture this statement in the heart of Mary’s worship as her soul magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in the God of her salvation. 

Mary, giving her all to God’s purposes was the heart of this song. If our children, college students and young couple embrace this motto of giving their all to the purposes of the Lord for living, how much change can be had in our society?  Ruth lost her husband but still gave her all to the purposes of God and is in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.  Joseph was not bitter towards his family for selling him into slavery but gave his all to God’s purposes and saved a family from starvation.  In time, Moses was not swallowed up with the guilt of murder and not living up to expectations but gave his all to the purposes of God and freed an entire nation from bondage.  If we give our all to the purposes of God, we may rescue the perishing from certain condemnation. We could never have the right heart without completely surrendering to God’s purposes. Mary understood that life was not about her but being used by God. 

As a child in Sunday School, every quarter we had a pictured paper that we could put stickers on to compliment the picture for bringing our Bibles and memorizing verses in the Bible.  The student with the most stickers at the end of the quarter won a prize. The fourth quarter of every year was an empty picture of the manger.  Throughout the quarter we had opportunities to put stickers of animals, hay, stars, wise men, Joseph, Mary and eventually, baby Jesus.  Once the quarter ended, and if you had many stickers on your paper, the manger scene came to life with joy and happiness.  Generally, speaking, we view Christmas in very favorable terms. We preface Christmas with the word "Merry."

There is nothing wrong with having a joyful attitude and spirit during the Christmas holidays.  However, we tend to view Mary’s life in terms of the manger scene, with the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and miss the pain and hardship Mary experienced throughout her life.  The negative reception she received from the community, journeying from Nazareth to Bethlehem on an uncomfortable animal as you are on the eve of giving birth, giving birth in an animal stable and the only rag you had to wash the newborn child was a rag used for animals, experiencing most people rejecting her son and viewing Him as a child of Satan, and finally, watching your son die a harden criminal’s death on a horrific cross for your sins would not be great cause of joy.  Sill, Mary’s heart praised God for His purpose! Why?  Her song was not about emotions or feelings but theology and truth. Her song either quotes or alludes to fifteen Old Testament scriptures.    

This morning let us anchor her heart’s praise into the theology of this song so that we can understand her heart’s praise and glean the beauty and power of her song.  

Personal God v.48-49

Many people who do believe in God, view Him as a creator who is not invested in the personal affairs of humanity.[2]To them, God is more of a macro and not micro God.  Mary believed in a micro and personal God.  

The theology in her song starts with the word “For” (v.48).  A powerful three letter word.  The word “For” is a pause word and should cause us to ponder[3]The relationship between her soul magnifying the Lord and her spirit rejoicing in the God of her salvation with verses 48-49. Why did her soul magnify the Lord and spirit rejoice in the God of her salvation? 

First, where she was when God regarded her.  Last week, we examined Mary’s self-worth.  She never thought of herself higher or better than any other person.  Even after God decided to make known His plans for using her, she never considered herself deserving of being used by God.  How different this attitude is from many within Christianity today, who believe they deserve God’s goodness or blessings.  They demand prosperity, wealth and influence from God while losing sight of the worm (Isaiah 41:14) they were before grace.  

She continues this thought of her unworthiness of being used by God for His purpose and glory in the theology of this song.  Mary’s song describes where she was when God regarded her. She was a woman of “low estate.” The phrase “low estate” has two possible values.  First, being of “low estate” could reference her economic situation.  Coming from the town of Nazareth would have been very “low estate.”  However, this meaning does not fit the flow of the text and the Gospel narrative. Even after God miraculously allowed her to conceive Jesus, her economic standing in the community did not change. Economically, she was still in a position of “low estate."  Paul said of Jesus life, which would have included Mary: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes, he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).  Also, Joseph and Mary gave two pigeons for sacrifice at Jesus circumcision, which spoke of their poverty (Luke 2:22-24).  Her low economic state did not change.  The other and right value is that she came from a "low estate" spiritually.  Why is this the right meaning? Even though her economic status did not change, what did change was her elevation in service to Her Lord and Savior, which will cause people to call her blessed (v.49).  There were many apostles and today many preachers, teachers, givers, and prayer warriors, but there is only one mother of Jesus.  Mary was describing her situation as “low estate” was an indication that she did not believe herself to be the worthiest person to become the mother of Jesus.  She did not think herself to be a better servant of God than anyone else.

The phrase “low estate” comes from one Greek word, which “means low, not high, not rising far from the ground.”[4]  Keep in mind that Luke wrote this Gospel to a man that was more than likely Greek. "To the Greeks, tapeinos (The Greek word for low estate) and derivatives were words of contempt for they saw man as the measure of all things (sounds very contemporary). To be low on the social scale, to know poverty, or to be socially powerless was considered shameful to the proud Greeks. Thus they used tapeinos almost exclusively in a derisive way, most commonly of a slave.”[5]

Thus, Mary used the right word describing the depth of her humbleness.  She did not believe the man was the measure of all things and was joyful in knowing she was no better than a slave wonderfully and marvelously owned by the Lord (v.46). Mary “believed God and yielded to His will.”[6]

James the brother of Jesus and the son of Mary wrote “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). James lived with arguably the two most humble people in the history of the world: Jesus and Mary. James witnessed his mother’s humbleness every time she thought upon God using her. What does it mean to be humble? Peter gives us a good definition. He said: "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:5, 6). The answer is placing ourselves under others because we are “under the mighty hand of God.”  

Her humbleness explains one half of the equation as to why her soul magnified the Lord, and her spirit rejoiced in God her salvation. The second half of the equation that completes the reason her soul magnifying the Lord and spirit rejoicing in God her salvation is God giving her worth and meaning by using her for His purpose.

The Psalmist sang “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.  He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalms 40:1-2).  Even though Mary was humble, she could do nothing to elevate herself into a usable vessel for the Lord’s purpose. She needed the Lord to work decisively in her life. 

I hope you can feel the weight of the words "He hath regarded" (v.49). While Mary viewed herself as unusable for the Master's work because of her sinfulness, The Lord regarded Mary. The Lord knew the potential of grace changing a sinful young lady into a beacon of hope for so many people. The phrase “He hath regarded” “means literally to look upon, to gaze at especially with a disposition to show favor, pity or partially.”[7]  The Lord of Hope gazed at Mary’s helplessness and gave her partiality. Mary gives us a beautiful message through this song. Most of us know that God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). God does not care if we are black, white, yellow or red; nor does He care where we come from concerning salvation. However, He does show partiality to those humble saints, regardless of race, ethnicity or social standing. The picture Mary presents is God looks down on the redeemed, as He decides to show partiality in magnifying His purpose and grace. His litmus test in determining whether or not to work in our lives for His purpose is our depth of humbleness. 

Jesus said, "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Matthew 23:12). The humble person is not exalting himself or herself if so they would not be humble. The one doing the exalting is God. To repeat a verse given earlier: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time" (1 Peter 5:6). Many times, the Psalmist mentions how God will exalt the humble.

Not only did God look down upon her with the idea of showing partiality; He did a marvelous work in her life. Mary continued her song by singing, “He hath done to me great things” (v.49). “Hath done” means God produced something in us.[8]Whenever God “does” things are never left the same. God will never call us to do anything without enabling us for the task.[9]He enabled Noah to build an ark, Bezaleel and Aholiab to construct the tabernacle (Exodus 31:1-6), twelve ordinary men to evangelize the world, and Mary to be the mother of Jesus. God enables the humble to do extraordinary acts for His purpose. 

Why did Mary’s soul magnify the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in the God of her salvation?  The answer is twofold: God did a work in Mary's life that would forever change human history, and she believed in this work v.45, submitted v.38 and committed herself to the Lord (soul v.38, spirit 47 and body 38).[10]God can do the same for us!

Passion for God v.46-56

Mary demonstrated in her song that her passion in life was God. No doubt that she loved her family and soon to be husband but overwhelming them was her love and passion for her Lord and Savior.   

We can see her passion for God with the inclusion of His name throughout the song.  “There are 20 references to God in her song…She praises God 8x’s for what He has done.”[11]  Her view of God permeates throughout this song. She portrays God as the opposite of impersonal; He is doing!  He has the power to do, and no one can stop His work!  God is the rightful Lord and Master of the universe. Regardless of the depth of darkness that surrounds us, God has not abdicated His throne.  He rules and does as He wills.  

She mentioned God twenty times without using a repetitive chorus. Without any question, the theology of her song was God-centered.  I am sure when she sang this song, she did not have in mind that millions of Christians would read about this song in God's word.  However, when she sang this song, there were only one person and one God she had in mind.  She wanted Elizabeth to know how important God was in her life and affirm her commitment to God.

Several years ago, we used to sing a chorus entitled: There is Something Special About That Name.  The chorus went like this:

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There’s just something about that name
Master, Savior, Jesus
Like the fragrance after the rain

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Let all Heaven and earth proclaim
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away
But there’s something about that name

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There’s just something about that name
Master, Savior, Jesus
Like the fragrance after the rain

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Let all Heaven and earth proclaim
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away
But there’s something about that name (that name)

Something about that name.

The name of God was very sweet and special to Mary! 

Mary praised God for His name being holy (v.49). We take this name holy name of God for granted.  Probably, we are too familiar with His name being holy. Luke wrote this Gospel to a converted Greek named Theophilus.  His name being holy would have had a powerful meaning for Theophilus.  The pagan gods he grew up with “had many human qualities…The gods constantly fought among themselves, behaved irrationally and unfairly, and were often jealous of each other. Zeus, the king of the gods, was rarely faithful to his wife Hera. Hera plotted against Zeus and punished his mistresses. The Greek gods were highly emotional and behaved inconsistently and sometimes immorally.”[12]  Not so much with God.  He is different from all the other created gods of the world.  He is perfectly right in everything He does.  His thoughts, actions, emotions, and plans set Himself apart from every other false deity.   

God being called holy speaks of Him being “transcendent and independent of His creation.”[13]  Greek and Roman gods were transcendent in their power[14]but God’s transcendence extends beyond His power to every facet of His being.  His omniscience and omnipresence are transcendent.  The plan He has for the ages is immutable and transcendent. No one can thwart or change God's plan; His transcendence does not allow this to happen.

She continued praising God by proclaiming “his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation” (v.51).  The word “mercy” is God coming to the aid of people who are in misery. There are many miserable people today. People are miserable for a variety of reasons: finances, relationships, health, jobs, politics, etc.…God does not unleash His mercy for any of those reasons.  He unleashes His mercy on those who fear Him.  Fearing God involves surrendering to His Lordship and recognizing your sinful condition.  One of the two thieves on the cross came to fear God.  While “one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, ‘If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.’  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, ‘Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.’  And he said unto Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.’  And Jesus said unto him, ‘Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise’” (Luke 23:39-43).  

Lastly this morning, Mary praise the Lord because “He hath Holpen His servant Israel” (v.54).  I gave Sister Braley my sermon notes yesterday so she could put them into the bulletin this morning.  She asked if I had misspelled this word, thinking the word should be “helps.”  We do not use the word “holpen” anymore.  In fact, my Microsoft Word will put a red line under the word, denoting a possible misspelling.  The word “holpen” is so much stronger than the word “help.”  The word “holpen” means “to take hold of” and to “participate” in the help.  Another way of defining this word is to “espouse the cause of something.” Everyday people help other people. Some will give to charity or give a couple of dollars to a beggar on the street corner but never engage in a meaningful relational way the charity of their choice or the homeless problem. God holpening Israel and in application us, He espoused our cause and gave His all-in participation to change the bottom line of our misery.  Metaphorically speaking, both God’s feet were in holpening us.  Praise the Lord.  Never for one moment ever think God does not care for you because His grace says otherwise!


[1]John Fleetwood, The Life of Christ (Philadelphia: W. A. Leary and Co., 1849), 152.

[2]“U. S. Becoming Less Religious,” Pew Research Center, October 29, 2015,

[3]Bruce Hurt, “Luke 1 Commentary,” Precept Austin, August 9, 2018,



[6]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament, vol. 1, Matthew-Galatians(Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1989), 173.

[7]Bruce Hurt, “Luke 1 Commentary,” Precept Austin, August 9, 2018,


[9]John Butler, Analytical Bible Expositor Luke and John (Clinton: LBC Publications, 2009), 26.

[10]Brian Bell, "Mary's Magnificat!”," Calvary Murrieta, December 11, 2005,


[12]“Ancient Civilizations,” U S History, accessed March 3, 2019,

[13]Many Authors, “Holiness, Holy,” in Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, 4th ed., ed. Charles Pfeiffer, Howard Vos, and John Rea (Peabody: Hendrickson Publisher, 2000), 802.

[14], Mary Lefkowitz, “God's or God?” Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2007.