Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

St. Mary Visits Elizabeth

Sermon / Homily on Luke 1:39-56

Celebrate The Lord

by Alan Carr

Scripture: Luke 1:46-55

Intro: The months between the announcement of Christ's birth and the actual moment of His arrival were months of hard decisions and anxious waiting on the part of Mary and Joseph. However, as difficult a time as it surely was, it is still a pleasure to watch Mary and see how she conducted herself. In this passage, she has made the journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who is also expecting a very special baby, John The Baptist. When Mary arrives at her cousins house and speaks to Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth's womb leaps for joy, reminding us that an unborn child is more than a mere blob of flesh. Elizabeth responds by telling Mary that she is blessed because she has believed the Lord and that God will do all that He has said He will do to and through her life. Hearing this, Mary, even though she is young, unmarried and pregnant, begins to lift her voice in praise to the Lord. In doing so, she reveals a heart that is in love with the Lord and also a mind that has been saturated with the Old Testament Scriptures. She teaches us that we can praise the Lord in spite of our circumstances at the moment and that God's grace is sufficient even in the most troubled of times. Mary's great song of praise has come to be known as the Magnificat. This is the Latin translation of the first few words which Mary speaks and it literally means, "My soul celebrates the Lord." This doxology is a hymn of praise unto the Lord. It reminds us today that the birth of Jesus is about far more than gifts, trees, myths like Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, and my personal favorite, the Grinch. The Christmas season is about our relationship with the Lord and about learning to celebrate His glory and His goodness. Therefore, this morning, let's spend a few minutes looking at this great anthem of praise and join Mary in her celebration of the Lord, as I preach for a while on the subject, Celebrate The Lord.


I. V. 46-49 MARY CELEBRATES THE LORD FOR PERSONAL GRACE

(In these first few verses, Mary expresses her personal praise to the Lord for His blessings to her own life. In doing so, she sets an example that every Christian should seek to follow.)

A. V. 46-47 She Has Been Redeemed - The first object for which she lifts her voice in praise is for salvation. Like the rest of us, Mary was born in sin and stood in need of a Savior. In verse 47, she declares her dependence upon God in Heaven for salvation. She is simply praising the Lord for the salvation she possesses.

(Ill. Your life may be falling apart this morning, but if you have been redeemed by the precious Blood of Jesus, then you have a reason to praise the Name of the Lord! According to Luke 10:20, simple salvation is a good reason to praise the Lord. Think about it, because you have been saved, you will never go to Hell, you will never stand in judgment, you will be granted access into Heaven, you will experience the presence of the Lord throughout eternity. You are a child of the King right now! I am simply saying that we have abundant reason to rejoice, as did Mary! I challenge every Christian under the sound of my voice to offer the sacrifices of praise unto the Lord today - Heb. 13:15.)

(Ill. Some may argue, "Preacher, I just do not have anything to praise the Lord for!" Well, Mary is speaking out of a personal relationship. She knew what she was talking about. When your saved and you know, it will put some rejoicing in your heart! You may not shout, but you want to!)

B. V. 48a She Has Been Regarded - (Ill. Regard = "to turn the eyes upon.") Mary is telling Elizabeth that she is a nobody, but she has experienced the grace of God first hand. Mary knows that she does not deserve wonderful favor of the Lord that has been extended to her. Yet, the Lord did it anyway.

(Ill. Again, this is another reason for rejoicing! We who are saved, have been chosen, called and saved by pure grace. There was nothing in us then, and there is nothing in us now, that would commend us to the Lord. However, in His grace He loved us, reached down to us and saved us when we responded to him in faith. To be regarded by the Lord is a tremendous thing! (Ill. Eph. 2:8-9) (Ill. Even the great Apostle Paul was a product of pure grace - 1 Cor. 15:10) Even though there is nothing in us that commends us to Him, He still lives us and by grace transforms us into the children of God. That is a reason in itself to praise the Name of the Lord.)

C. V. 48b-49 She Has Been Rewarded - Mary realizes that God is doing something pretty wonderful through her life. After all, she is to be the means by which the God of eternity enters human history. While many in her day ridiculed her and talked about her, she knew that in days to come, others would look back on her obedience and know that she had been blessed by the Lord. Her reward was in the fact that God was to be glorified and that others would be blessed by her actions.

(Ill. Every one of us in this room who have been saved would have to acknowledge that the Lord has done "great things" in and to us. I mean, think of the change He made in your life, 2 Cor. 5:17. Think of the blessings you have enjoyed. Think of the benefits that are yours as a child of God. Think of the glory that awaits out there in the future. We have been blessed abundantly! Like Mary, we all have reason to praise the Name of the Lord! Are we doing it as we should?)

I. Mary Celebrates The Lord For Personal Grace

II. V. 50-53 MARY CELEBRATES THE LORD FOR PERPETUAL GRACE

A. V. 50 The Permanence Of His Grace - Mary knows that she isn't the only one who has received grace from God, nor is her generation that can expect the hand of God to move. His grace is to be revealed to every generation, until the return of Christ to this earth.

(Ill. The grace of God is operating even today! There is grace to save sinners. Grace to reclaim backsliders. Grace for battles, trials and valleys. Grace for every situation we face in life. Ill. 2 Cor. 12:9. This, in and of itself, is a wonderful motivator for praise and worship before the Lord.)

B. V. 51-52 The Performance Of His Grace - Mary praises the Lord because He did not come to reach out to the proud and the mighty. In fact, God chose to reveal Himself to those who were poor and humble. In His working of this great miracle, God has demonstrated His power and has put to shame all those who thought they had Him figured out, 1 Cor. 1:27. In one great act, God has reversed the order of society. Those who are considered great by men will be brought low, while those who trust in the Lord, though they may be poor and humble, will be exalted by their faith in the Lord.

(Ill. This morning, things remain the same. Only those who are willing to humble themselves before the Lord can expect anything from the Lord. Salvation comes to the humble - Matt. 18:3. Those who are willing to admit their sin, can expect to be saved. Those who are willing to admit their need, can expect to have it met. Before we can expect anything from the Lord, we must be willing to humble ourselves in His site. When we do, we can experience His grace in a very real way. There are many who will die lost and spend eternity in Hell, simply because they were unwilling to come to the Lord, admit their sins and receive the Lord into their lives.)

C. V. 53 The Promise Of His Grace - Mary reminds us that those who realize their lack can come to the Lord and be filled, while those who think they have need of nothing can expect exactly that from God.

(Ill. There are many today who see themselves through rose colored glasses. They think, and say things like, "I am as good as that crowd down there at that church."; "I'm a good person, I don't steal, I don't hurt anyone, I mind my own business."; "Well, at least I'm not a hypocrite, like some of those people at church."; etc. However, what they are missing is this; salvation does not rely on how well "that crowd down at church" is doing, it all rests in your personal relationship with God Almighty! Many are like the "church crowd" down in Laodicea, Rev. 3:14-22. They thought they had everything they needed, but failed to see that they were the neediest people of all. With all they possessed, they still lacked everything. Because to have the entire world and not have Jesus is to be eternally doomed to the fires of Hell. Yet, to have Him and nothing more is to have the greatest treasure that Heaven can afford. If you have all the goods of this world in your hand and do not have the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart, you are destitute and headed to Hell - Mark 8:36-37. Remember the sobering truth of John 15:5.)

(Ill. Mary saw in the perpetual grace of God a reason for rejoicing. Things haven't changed. He is still the God of all grace, 1 Pet. 5:10.)

I. Mary Celebrates The Lord For Personal Grace

II. Mary Celebrates The Lord For Perpetual Grace

III. V. 54-55 MARY CELEBRATES THE LORD FOR PERFORMED GRACE

(Ill. Mary praises the Lord, not only for His blessings in her life and for His blessings upon successive generations, but she also praises the Lord for remembering to do what He has promised to do. She exalts His Name because He did not forget her people. Ill. The bondage of the Jews and their longing for a Messiah. Mary praises the Lord keeping His Word!)

A. V. 54 God Remembers His Promises - For centuries, the Jews had lived on the promise of the Lord that HE would one day send a deliverer. A Messiah to redeem the people and to restore the nation to a place of righteousness and favor with God. Jesus is to be the fulfillment of those promises and Mary exalts the Name of the Lord for remembering to keep His promises.)

(Ill. May I remind you that the Lord still keeps His promises? He will never allow anything He has promised to do go undone, Rom. 4:21! That is why He can be trusted in every situation in life. Whether it be for salvation, 2 Tim. 1:12, or for daily provision, Phil. 4:19. God will do what He has said He will do. Therefore, learn to trust Him and learn to praise Him for His goodness, even if the answer has not yet been seen! If there is one thing we can be sure of this morning, it is that we can depend on the Lord, He will never let one of His promises fall to the ground - 2 Pet. 3:9.)

B. V. 55 God Remembers His People - (Ill. Mary rejoices in the fact that the Lord hasn't forgotten about the people of Israel. They were His people, and they still are. She praise His name that He remembers those who have placed their faith in Him.)

(Ill. We have this same reason for praise this morning. There may some here today who feel they have been deserted by the Lord. Let me remind you that we have His wonderful promise in this area - Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5. Christian, you need never God forgetting about you. You are forever impressed upon His heart. In fact, every time He looks at Jesus, He sees you - Eph. 2:6. He will see you through this world and into the next. He did not save you to lose you. He did not save you to forget about you. He saved you take you home to be with Him. What a blessed standing is ours.)

(Ill. Again, this is a wonderful reason to praise the Name of the Lord.)

Conc: We are indebted to Mary this morning. We owe her a debt of gratitude for reminding us that whether it is for personal grace, favors for others, or for those times when the Lord proves Himself faithful in the lives of His children, we have a God who is worthy of faith, love, praise and worship. With that in mind, I ask you this morning, do you have the same heart that dwelled in Mary? Are you in a personal relationship with Almighty God today? Are you in such a position in your walk with the Lord whereby you can truly celebrate Him this Christmas? Is there a need for you to come to Him and meet Him on a personal basis? Is there a need for you to come to Him and make some things right with Him today? Is there a need in your heart to just come and bow before Him and worship Him today? Whatever your need may be, please come to Him and let Him have His way in your life.

Copyright 2003 by Alan Carr

See Also:

Sermons, Bible Commentaries, Bible Analyses on St. Mary's Visit to Elizabeth

Christmas Supplement in Malankara World

Malankara World Special on St. Mary

Malankara World Special on Shunoyo of St. Mary

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