Lake Wisconsin Evangelical Free Church

February 4, 2024

Mary’s Praise of God’s Character – Luke 1:46-56


“Mary’s Praise of God’s Character” Luke 1:46-56 Senior Pastor, Robert Dennison, preached this message on February 4, 2024.

Luke chapter 1 verses 46 through 56. As we look at the topic today, Mary’s praise of God’s character. Today we’re going to be looking at the character of God through the eyes of a young woman who is living in what she calls a humble condition.

She’s from an insignificant town that’s far from any big city, far from the offices of government, far from the seats of royalty, and the majority of people in her country would never visit her town because everyone knows that nothing good ever comes from that area. Her life experience has probably been very minimal and ordinary. There’s nothing mentioned about her appearance being special or her family being influential.

She’s just a common girl. We’re going to listen to the words of a song or a psalm that she sings about God and it gives us a better understanding of who God is. The young woman is Mary, the mother of Jesus, and she’s going to reveal her understanding of God by telling us about his names, telling about his character, and telling about his involvement in our lives. I’ll tell you the goal of the message today is to know God better, to see where his greatest interests lie, take a next step in your personal relationship with him, and adopt God’s interests to be your interest. Let’s read now from Luke 1 verse 46.

Mary said, my soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior because he has looked with favor on the humble condition of his servant.

Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed because the mighty one has done great things for me and his name is holy. His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him. He has done a mighty deed with his arm. He has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts. He has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly.

He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel remembering his mercy to Abraham and his descendants forever just as he spoke to our ancestors. And then Mary stayed with her Aunt Elizabeth for about three months and she returned to her home.

May we pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you once again for your word that you have given it to us that we might know how to obtain salvation and a right relationship with you and how then to live faithfully like your son that we might reflect him in this world. It’s in his name that we pray, amen.

First way that Mary tells us about God is she lets us know about some of his names. So we go back to verse 46. And Mary said, my soul magnifies the Lord. That’s the first name we’re going to look at. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

That’s the second name because he has looked with favor on the humble condition of his servant. Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed because the mighty one has done great things for me and his name is holy. Three names of God that Mary uses in the text today. She uses the Greek word for the Lord. She uses the Greek word for God who is her Savior and she talks about the mighty one.

Who is the Lord? What does this infer about God that we need to know about him? It’s the word that the Greeks used to translate the personal name of God in the Old Testament. So wherever they translated Jehovah, which was the personal name that God gave, not just a title, they transferred it and translated it to Greek in this. It means master.

But the most important thing to remember then is that this is God’s personal name. He isn’t saying my name is Mr. Smith. He’s saying my name is Joe. That’s what I want you to call me because God desires to have a personal relationship with us and Mary is expressing that in how she sings about him.

She also says that he is God my Savior. God here meaning that he is the true God. But the Savior word here means that he’s a deliverer, a preserver. He’s one who saves from danger or destruction and he brings into a state of prosperity and happiness. Mary is recognizing that she’s not able to save herself.

She has to depend on someone else and she is looking to God the Almighty to do that for her. He’s her Savior. He’s going to deliver her from her sinfulness. He’s going to preserve her. He’s going to take her out of the danger and destruction that is awaiting all those who continue to follow the Lord of this world who is Satan.

And not only that is he going to save her, but eventually our Savior Jesus Christ and Mary recognize God was going to do this for her would bring her into a state of prosperity and happiness. God is her personal God. He wants to have a relationship for her. He is her Savior. He’s rescuing her out of this world, but he’s also the mighty one.

This word means able. It means strong and it means powerful. So not only is God personal, not only is God Savior, but I want to say here that God is capable. He’s capable of doing everything he promised. And if we want a Savior, we want a capable Savior that can do everything that is needed to do.

Imagine you’re out on the beach and you see someone in the water and you can tell they’re struggling and they start yelling out for help. Who are they going to be looking for to come and rescue them? They’re looking for a lifeguard to come out. Someone who has something across their chest that they can bring them in. Someone with strong arms and legs.

Someone that looks like they know how to swim. They’re not calling out to the guy that’s walking with a cast on his leg to come out and save them. They’re looking for a capable lifeguard. God alone is capable of bringing salvation to us and restoring a personal relationship with him. He is not inhibited or limited in any way like somebody with a cast trying to get someone out of the ocean.

God is personal. God is Savior. God is capable.

Those are the names that Mary shares here. Let’s look at what character qualities that she points out now. Go to verse 49 and 50. Because the mighty one has done great things for me and his name is holy. His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him.

There are many attributes of God. He’s all-knowing. He’s all-powerful. He’s all-present. But Mary is narrowing in on these two attributes here today.

The one of holiness and the one of being mercy. And we say this is an attribute or a character trait of God. We’re not saying he just acts this way.

We’re saying he is this way. He doesn’t just pretend that he’s merciful and holy. He is merciful and holy. We wouldn’t even know what mercy was unless God himself is merciful. We don’t know what holiness is unless God is holy.

Holy. The verse that comes to mind is Revelation 4 verse 8. Where we find the angel singing day and night. They never stop saying holy, holy, holy, Lord God the Almighty who was, who is, and who is to come. They don’t say he’s gracious over and over.

They don’t say he’s merciful over and over. They talk about God being holy, holy, holy. The word holy itself means to be separated for some special reason. We had the tabernacle and it was holy because it was separated for worship of God. There were bowls and utensils.

There were lamps. There were altars. They were all in the temple and they were holy because they were set apart to be used for a specific purpose. We also need to understand not only what holy means, it’s separate, but the Jews didn’t have a language that said like someone is good, better, and best. If they wanted to say someone was really good, they would just say they’re good, good.

That meant you were the best possible. Or if it was hot, they wouldn’t say hot, hot, or hottest. They would say it’s hot, hot outside today.

Well interesting thing here is what they’re saying is, as far as I know, this is the only time that we find in the Bible that something goes beyond being the most. God isn’t just holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. What I’m trying to say is they never said it’s hot, hot, hot. They didn’t say it’s cold, cold, cold, or good, good, good.

They would only use two. But when it comes to God, he is so separate.

He is so far completely different than everything that we know and that we understand that he is holy, holy, holy. His name, his title, his character, his reputation, his person, everything about God is so completely different that we will never completely understand him. And if we didn’t have his word, we wouldn’t understand him at all. What he reveals to us, we can’t understand. And he’s gonna be in heaven someday, and for eternity we’re always gonna be learning something new about him because he’s so far above us, and he’s so different.

So Mary’s recognizing the complete separateness of God and how wonderful he is. But she also talks about his mercy. We tend to talk more about God’s grace. Grace means a gift.

It’s all the good things that God gives us. God is gracious in giving us sunshine. He’s gracious in giving us air to breathe. He was especially gracious in giving us his son to die on the cross for our sins, that we might have eternal life. Grace is giving things that we don’t deserve.

Mercy, on the other hand, is withholding the things that we do deserve. It’s where somebody steals something, and we want them to what? To repay. That’s what a just judge would do. But mercy says, no, he needs to repay.

He needs to suffer. But I’m gonna withhold that punishment. That’s what Mary is pointing out here today. She’s not talking about how God is giving her something. She’s recognizing that she needs to be forgiven.

She’s recognizing that there’s a penalty that’s due upon her. There’s a punishment for sin in her life, and she is so thankful that God is withholding that punishment from us. Let’s read Titus 3, verses 4 and 5. When the kindness of God, our Savior, and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us. Again, here he is, the Savior.

And it’s not by works of righteousness that we had done. He didn’t save us because we were beautiful. He didn’t save us because we have money to give. He didn’t save us because there’s something special about us. Instead, it says, he saved us according to his mercy.

Meaning that when he looks down on us, we are sinful creatures. We deserve death. We deserve punishment. We deserve to be handed over to Satan. But God, when we come to him by faith, he withholds that punishment, and he placed it on Jesus Christ on the cross instead.

Mary here is recognizing her need for mercy, not her need for grace. So we find here in God’s character, he’s holy and he’s merciful. The wonderful thing about God’s mercy is that it never, ever stops.

We have people that have wronged us in our life, and we let them wrong us one, two, three, four, five times, and eventually we just get tired of it, and we go away. God doesn’t do that. As we continually sin every day, every sin, whatever we do, he always extends mercy and withholds judgment. Lamentations 3, 22 through 24, we read this. Because of the Lord’s faithful love, we do not perish.

Perish is what we deserve, but instead his mercies never end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. I say the Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him. Because of God’s never-ending mercy that he withholds from us what we so rightly deserve, that we can place our hope in him, and we can also know it doesn’t matter how far off the track we get, how often we sin, or how much we do.

Coming back to him, we can always be assured that if we ask for his forgiveness, that he offers it to us, and he withholds the punishment. Let’s look now at God’s involvement in the text. Go back to verse 46. Mary said, my soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, because he, and here’s the first involvement in life, he has looked with favor on the humble condition of his servant. Secondly, we go on to read, surely from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the mighty one, here’s something else in the way he’s involved, has done great things for me, and his name is holy.

His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him.

Verse 51, he has done a mighty deed with his arm. He has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts. He has toppled the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he spoke to our ancestors.

And Mary stayed then again with Elizabeth for about three months, and she returned to her home. Let’s just make a list of God’s involvement here in the text. First is God looks with favor on the humble. God does great things for me. God does mighty deeds.

God scatters the proud. God topples the mighty. God exalts the lowly. God satisfies the hungry with good things. God helps his servant Israel, and God remembers his mercy.

Let’s look at the two things that are both faced there. God does great things for me, and God does mighty deeds. God wants to be involved in our lives. What if I told you about the contents of my mail yesterday? Would you be surprised if I told you that I got a very special, personalized invitation from pick and save to come there and spend my money?

I’m sure I’m the only one that gets that because I’m so special, right? Or if I told you that TDS is extending this special invitation to me to have a lifetime membership. I mean, I was just delighted when I got that. I’m sure you didn’t. What if I told you that I also got three handwritten invitations?

One came from Governor Greg Abbott, one came from President Joe Biden, and one came from King Charles of England. I mean, I am super special. You want to know what the notes said?

Anybody want to know? I’m gonna tell you, all right? All three notes basically said this.

I’ve been listening to the LWEFC podcast of your sermons. Please thank Hunter for posting your sermons every Tuesday so that I can listen while I’m driving to work. That’s my first advertisement today.

And each of them said, I want you to be my personal friend. Enclosed are first-class airplane tickets and keys to a house next to mine that has been deeded to you and your awesome wife, Mary. Please come soon. There’s no need to bring anything. I will provide everything you need.

Did any of y’all get that invitation yesterday? I didn’t get it. I’m not lying. I told you if I had gotten them. But you know, this is what God extends to us.

He wants to be involved in our life, and he sends us a very personal invitation that gives us the opportunity for us to be his friend. He does it by reaching out to us. I mean, if I wrote a letter to Greg Abbott, Joe Biden, Prince, well King Charles now, I would probably never hear from them.

Maybe you would. I wouldn’t. We don’t write to God and ask him to be our Savior. He sends us the personal invitation. It’s not because we impress him.

It’s not because we’re rich. It’s not because we’re beautiful. He just does it because he wants to do great things, not for everybody, but Mary says, for me personally. And not only does he do great things for me, but she says, he goes way beyond that. He does mighty deeds.

God wants to be involved in our lives. The psalmist, chapter 46, verses 1 through 3, we read this, God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the sea. Though its water roars and foams and the mountains quake with its turmoil, Selah. What is it that God desires to offer to us?

He wants to be our refuge. He wants to be the place that we can run to when we need protection. He wants to be our strength. The psalmist says that he wants to be our helper and he wants to be available, not sometimes, but always. The almighty, awesome God wants to be involved in your life.

He wants to be the first person that you run to. He wants to be the first person that you go to when you are looking for help because he is always there. Going back to the beach situation, imagine now there’s a boy out there and he just got bitten by a shark.

That’s awful, isn’t it? And he looks up on the beach and his mom has got her hands out, come to me, I’m going to help you. And the little kid runs to a complete stranger over here.

That’s what we do to God. He has his arms outstretched when we’re in need, but we bypass him to go to other people. We call somebody else up.

God wants us to come to him first because he really wants to be personally involved in your life. The next two things I want you to look at is that God scatters the proud and God topples the mighty. And not that everybody that is mighty is wrong, but he’s talking about these people in the world that they’re in high positions and they’re proud and they’re abusing their power.

And Mary felt this way with the Romans. God, get rid of them. They’re abusing their power. God’s promise to us is that eventually he is involved in our life to the point that he will make everything right. God is just and eventually the evil will be punished and the good will be rewarded.

Mary took hope in this because she saw God scattering the proud and God toppling the mighty. We talk a little bit later about God’s interest. His interests are going to be in the humble and the lowly, just to give you a sneak peek, but we tend to put our emphasis on those that are proud and they’re mighty. We look to movie stars, we look to politicians, we look to people that are rich, and they get our attention more than those that are plain and ordinary. We’re not acting like God when we do that.

We need to be concerned about those that are of lowly estate, just as he was concerned about Mary and honored her even though there was nothing spectacular about her. Going on with God’s involvement, three more statements to look there at the list. God looks with favor on the humble. God exalts the lowly. God satisfies the hungry with good things.

Who is it that God is interested in? He’s interested in people that are humble, just like we sang from Micah today. He’s interested in people that are lowly. He’s interested in the people that are starving and have nothing. And the comfort to us is we don’t have to be mighty or special or talented or beautiful for God to love us.

He’s concerned about us no matter where we are. And since these are the ones that God is favoring, we should also spend time looking outside of our comfort zones to those that are in humble condition, those that are lowly, and those that are hungry. Psalm 113 verses 4 through 8.

We have this juxtaposition here. We have this almighty God who’s exalted above all things, but he actually gets down on his knees in the dirt and the trash to help those that love him. Let’s read in verses 4 through 8. The Lord is exalted above all the nations. He’s separate.

He’s holy above everything. His glory is above the heavens. Again, he’s so separated from us, so above everything. And the psalmist asked this question, who is like the Lord our God? And the answer is none.

No one is. He is the one enthroned on high. But the miraculous thing is that he, from that lofty position, stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth. He’s watching all of us to know what’s going on in our lives. He raises the poor from the dust.

I mean, when they’re filthy and dirty, when we’re filthy and dirty in our sin, he gets down in the nitty and gritty with us. He even goes to the extent that if we’re living in a trash heap of sin and disgusting habits and whatever, that he’s there to lift us up. And he isn’t just pulling us out of the trash and the dirt to give us a better place. He’s pulling us out to live in the best place because he does this in order to seat them with nobles, with the nobles of his people. What we would expect from a great and awesome and mighty ruler is that we would never see them.

We might see them waving as they pass in the street, but God isn’t like that. He wants to be involved in the day-to-day aspects of our life, in the worst places, in the most difficult parts of our life. Micah 6, 8. How should we live, then, in light of what God says about himself? Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you.

It isn’t to give money. It isn’t to be beautiful. It isn’t to be talented. It isn’t to be extremely intelligent. It’s to be just, treat everyone fairly, be faithful in your commitments and to those around you, and to be humble in how you live.

These are the people that God is most involved in their lives and most honored to be involved with.

God’s involvement. Last two statements. Mary points out that God helps his servant Israel, and God remembers his mercy. Who is she talking about when she’s talking about Israel? We have to think about some family genealogy.

We have to go all the way back to Abram. What did his name eventually become? Abraham. And God promised Abraham that your descendants are going to be a blessing to all the world. And his descendants included the Muslims, and it included the Israelites.

Scripture tells us that not only does that refer to his physical descendants, but it also refers to his spiritual descendants. Where is where we fit in today if we are believers, that we are spiritual descendants of Abraham. But Mary gets more specific here because who became Abraham had a son named Isaac and a son named Ishmael, and then Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. So there was a promise to Abraham, but what Mary is saying here is that there’s also this memory of this promise that was given more specifically to Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel from God. And it is through Jacob through Israel that we have the 12 tribes.

Mary’s pointing out that God not only favors the humble and the lowly, but he has a special favor for his children Israel, for the nation of Israel.

And with all that’s going on in the Middle East today, we need to remember that God favors us as the spiritual children of Abraham, and he favors Israel as physical descendants of Abraham. But more specifically, he gave a blessing and promises to Israel. Let me just read some verses about this.

Isaiah 41 verses 8 through 10. These aren’t written to Abraham. Now this is very specific to Jacob. But you, Israel, my servant Jacob, whom I have chosen, a descendant of Abraham, and he calls Jacob, and he calls Israel, my friend. I brought you from the ends of the earth, and I called you from its farthest corners.

I said to you, you are my servant. I have chosen you. I haven’t rejected you.

Therefore, do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.

God made these promises to Jacob, just as he had made promises to Abraham. And because God is capable, he is able to keep his promises. He does not lie. Let’s go to Ezekiel chapter 38, and it talks about the end of times, what is going to go on. And if we make correlations in this passage to modern day countries, we’re talking about Russia, we’re talking about Turkey, we’re talking about Iran, and the nations that are around Israel.

And what we see is this coalition that is rising up to be against Israel. We need to make sure that we are on God’s side in all of this. Let’s read what Ezekiel wrote. Son of man, face Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshach and Tubal, prophesy against him and say, this is what the Lord God says. Look, I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshach and Tubal.

I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws, and bring you out with all your army, including horses and riders who are all splendidly dressed, a huge assembly armed with large and small shields, all of them brandishing swords. He goes on in verse 5 and talks about the other countries involved, Persia, which is Iran today. Cush and Put are with them, all of them with shields and helmets.

Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the remotest parts of the north, along with all its troops. Many people are with you. The nations here are Iran, Russia, Turkey. Two weeks ago, the Turkish president met with the president of Iran. Last week, Turkish president met with the Putin, okay?

We see this lining up. It could well be in the end days where this scripture is referring to. But Israel’s not supposed to fear, because we go on to read, after a long time you will be summoned talking about these enemies, and in the last years you will enter a land that has been restored from war. A land that for many peoples to the mountains of Israel, which has long been a ruin when the Israelites are going to come back to the land. They were brought out from the peoples, and all of them now live securely.

And you, all of your troops and many peoples with you, will advance coming like a thunderstorm. You will be like a cloud covering the land, referring to Israel. Therefore prophesy, and say to God, this is what the Lord says on that day. When my people Israel are dwelling securely, will you not know this and come from your place in the remotest parts of the north? You and many peoples with you, you are all riding horses, a huge assembly of powerful army.

And you will advance against my people Israel like a cloud covering the land. And it will happen in the last days God, that I will bring you against my land, and the purpose is so that the nations may know me when I demonstrate my holiness through you in their sight. And the chapter goes on to describe how God is going to step in and do what his people can’t to rescue them from this great enemy. I’m just bringing this all up today because our interest needs to be like God’s, not only with the poor and the humble and the lowly and those that are destitute, but also with his chosen people that he is going to save in the last days. And we could spend a lot of time on this, but we’re not.

Here’s another advertisement. Tom and I have talked about this past week. If you’re interested in looking at prophecies in the last days, we’re willing to put together a class, but we want to know if there’s interest. So on your connection card, just write Israel and put it in that back box with your name, and then we’ll know if we have a class. And if no one’s interested, Tom and I’ll meet for lunch and talk about these things.

I’m talking about Tom Midtunes. Okay, don’t get worried, you’re putting a class together. God’s involvement. Let’s go to the list one last time. God looks with favor on the humble.

God does great things for me. God does mighty deeds. God scatters the proud. God topples the mighty. God exalts the lowly.

God satisfies the hungry with good things. God helps his servant Israel, and God remembers his mercy. Israel is such a great example to us of how long God’s mercy lasts. I mean, they have turned against him over and over and over, and just as you and I, if we turn against him over and over and over, he continually comes back and he forgives. Remember today that God is personal, and he wants not just to have a relationship with the world, but Mary recognized that he wanted to do great things for her individually, and he wants to be involved in your life and my life.

He’s also capable. He’s all-powerful to be our savior. He does great things. He does mighty things on our behalf, and it doesn’t matter how powerful or wonderful people are. He can scatter them.

He can topple them at his will, and he can take someone that you would never think was worth anything and take them and seat them in high places because he is capable of doing as he desires. And we also need to remember so that we can be like God in his heart that we need to show preference for people that are humble. Show preference for people that are lowly, for those that are in the dust, those that are in the garbage heap. They need us to have an interest in them just as God does. And don’t forget his servant Israel, his people, as he desires to help them and will, we also should have that same heart.

May we pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you once again for your word. Thank you for telling us how to live. Father, we thank you that we don’t have to be rich or beautiful or talented or smart to have a personal relationship with you. We thank you that you step down from your lofty position, Father, to kneel in the dust, Father, to sit in the trash heap with us, to bring us to eternal life and a relationship with you.

Father, we look forward today to the return of your son when he will show all of your capabilities to make the world right again, to give us a new creation, to reward those that are good and to punish those that are evil. In his name we give thanks today for the gift of salvation that we have through his life, his death, his burial, and his resurrection. To your praise and to him we give thanks. In his name, amen.