This blog is the final part of our advent series I was unable to preach due to tonsillitis.
Over the course of our advent series we have learnt some important lessons about God:
1- He uses human sin to accomplish His purposes.
2- He works out His plan in unexpected ways.
3- He uses messy people for His mission.
As we look at Mary we learn a fourth – He exalts the humble.
Having learnt that she is the person God has chosen to give birth to the Saviour of the world, Mary bursts out in song. Why? Because God has looked on the humble estate of His servant. (Luke 1:47-48)
See, Mary wouldn’t be the obvious choice to care for God’s Son, she didn’t have the qualifications you might expect. A teenager from the backwater town of Nazareth, a town that people questioned “could anything good come from?” A virgin who’d never cared for a child. There was nothing on Mary’s CV that would make us take notice of her. She was of low estate, way down the world’s pecking order.
Yet while the world wouldn’t notice her, God sees Mary and chooses to work out His salvation plan through her. And what’s the result? All generations will call her blessed. (v48)
God looks on this lowly nobody and chooses her for a lead role in His plan for the world. He takes a humble teenager and exalts her as the mother of Jesus. God exalts Mary by giving her a main part in His story in the world. Luke demonstrates Mary’s exaltation by contrasting her belief in God’s message to her with Zechariah’s unbelief at His message to him. The priest on duty at the temple doubts that God can provide a baby for him and his wife in their old age while the teenager from Nazareth believes that “nothing is impossible with God.” (v37)
And that’s one point we learn from Mary God exalts the humble. Why? To show His strength (v51)
God uses the lowly, He chooses the weak so that His power will be shown off. He doesn’t choose Mary so that we’ll look at her and say how great she is but so that we’d look at God and say how great He is. That’s why Mary’s song is so God focused, she calls us to gaze heavenwards because the mighty God has done great things for her. (v49)
Mary is exalted so that we might marvel at the strength of God.
And the good news for us is that the underserved kindness that God shows Mary isn’t just for Mary. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. (v50) God has done great things for us too.
At Christmas we remember that God sent His Son into the world in the person of Jesus. In Jesus, God put on flesh to live the perfect life we can’t live, to die the death we deserve and to rise to new life so that we can live forever. The greatest thing God has done for us is send Jesus to save us from our sin. We receive the gift of salvation by humbling ourselves and confessing our need for Jesus to save us. Phillips Brooks sums it up in ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ where he writes “where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Lord enters in.”
But that isn’t the only great thing God has done for us. Through Jesus, God has invited us to join Mary in the cast of His mission in this world. As God’s people us nobodies have a role to play in His ongoing mission in this world. Like salvation we play that role by humbling ourselves. To participate in God’s mission means we humble ourselves and live for God’s name instead of our own name. We’re called to be servants like Mary who cause others to see the greatness of God.
The question to consider this Christmas is have you humbled yourself before God?