WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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THE AFFIRMATION OF THE PROMISE
(Rejoice in what GOD is doing)
In Luke 1, verses 39-45, just a few days after Mary had been visited by the archangel Gabriel, she traveled to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah, the husband of her cousin Elizabeth lived. When she entered their house and greeted, a now, six month pregnant Elizabeth, the sound of her voice caused the child that her cousin was carrying to leap in her womb with joy.
Being filled with the HOLY SPIRIT, Elizabeth herself gave a cry of joy and exclaimed to Mary, “You are “blessed” (in the Greek “eulogeo”, which means “well spoken of”) by GOD above all other women, and your child is blessed. What an honor this is, that the mother of my LORD should visit me! When you came in and greeted me, my baby jumped for joy the instant I heard your voice! You are blessed because you believed that the LORD would do what HE said” (NLT).
Luke 1:46-55 is the passage that, over the years, has become one of the great hymns of the universal Christian Church as a whole, and is known world-wide as the “Magnificat”. The term, Magnificat, is taken from the “Latin Vulgate” (the first Latin translation of the bible), which was written by Jerome at the end of the fourth century A.D., and it means, “My soul doth magnify the LORD”.
This song, which was first uttered by Mary, the mother of JESUS, praises GOD for HIS favor on her and her people (Vs. 51-55). Some scholars tend to doubt that a young uneducated country girl, such as Mary, could have composed such a wonderful and prophetic poem, however, common sense dictates that she, or anyone else, who was in a close personal relationship with GOD, and were fairly familiar with the Old Testament passages which are alluded to in this song, is capable of expressing these thoughts of praise that we find here.
Apparently, Mary saw herself as a part of the GODly remnant that had served her LORD with all diligence. We see in verse 47, for instance, where she calls GOD, “my SAVIOR”, shows she had a deep intimate knowledge of HIM. She also speaks of GOD’s faithfulness, power, holiness, and mercy in verses 48-50, showing that her relationship with GOD was “an experiential one”.
This timeless stretch of biblical literature, has, contained within it, four distinct parts which should be noted by every reader:
· First, there is “great personal adoration and thanks to GOD” (Vs. 46-48). In the biblical Greek, the word “makarizo” (mak-ar-id-zo) is used in verse 46 for “blessed”, and it actually means “supremely blest”, or, “beatified”. It describes, in this passage, what it is like to be “indwelt by GOD, and thereby, fully satisfied”. Mary was completely satisfied and honored by the wonderful, and unexpected way, in which GOD chose to use her body for HIS purpose.
· Secondly, there is “a celebration of GOD’s attributes” (Vs. 49-50). Mary celebrated GOD’s goodness and she cherished all that HE had done for her, and she also appreciated the fact that HIS mercy extended throughout all generations, for all times.
· Thirdly, we see her “praising GOD for correcting pride, social injustice, and economic disparities” (Vs. 51-53), “GOD’s three great moral revolutions”. These moral rebellions can also be found in the make-up of Christianity itself. We see, first of all:
(a). “GOD’s revolution against pride (v.51), where Mary notes that, “GOD scatters the
proud and haughty ones” (NLT). When Christianity is practiced properly, it
automatically means death to “pride”. A person cannot possibly set their life beside
the life of CHRIST without, first, tearing every ounce of pride from him, or herself.
(b). “GOD’s revolution against social injustice” (v.52) “HE has taken the princes from their
thrones and exalted the lowly” (NLT). When Christianity is practiced properly, it
means death to “social injustice”. It puts an end to race, labels, and prestige, because
what CHRIST did for one, HE intended for all. No man is favored in the eyes of GOD,
but also, we can call no man worthless, or common, for whom JESUS CHRIST has
died. HE died for all men in general, and all Christians, in particular.
(c). “GOD’s revolution against economic disparity” (v.53) “HE has satisfied the hungry
with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands” (NLT). When Christianity
is practiced properly, it means death to “economic disparity and greed”. A “Christian
Society” is a community of believers who dares to have too much, while others don’t
even have enough. The attitude of a believer in CHRIST JESUS, is “one that desires to
have more, in order that they may have more to give away”.
· In the fourth and final part (Vs. 54-55), we see Mary “giving GOD praise for the mercy shown to Israel”. There she cites that, “How GOD has helped HIS servant Israel! HE has not forgotten HIS promise to be merciful. HE promised our ancestors, Abraham and his children, to be merciful to them forever” (NLT).
Even at her young age we can clearly see that Mary knew for sure that her blessing and charge of giving birth to the SON of GOD was not all about her, but rather, it was about a “covenant promise” that was established with Abraham and her fore-fathers, long before she was ever thought about.
It was William Barclay who wrote, concerning this wonderful passage of scripture, that, “There is loveliness in the Magnificat, but within that loveliness, there is also, dynamite”. And he was right. And so Mary went on to birth our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, and JESUS CHRIST birthed Christianity into the world, and Christianity birthed a revolution in civilization against pride, social injustice, and economic disparity. And now, mankind must take up that fight, and continue that revolution, throughout the world.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander