Mary sings because Jesus saves – Luke 1.39-56

There are many different responses, to brilliant news: from tears of joy to shouts of excitement; from uncontrollable laughter to a Mr Bean dance. When Mary found out she was going to have God’s Son, she bursts into song and pens the first ever Christmas carol.

It’s a heartfelt response, but perhaps surprising initially. We might expect Mary to be rather worried: the shame on the family and Joseph, that an unmarried, pregnant, young Jewish woman would bring would be significant. Yet, as we saw last week, Mary trusts God. She was having his Son, and He’ll be an eternal King – that was very good news regardless of what anyone else might think.

In her song, Mary reminds us of how merciful God is, and how the first Christmas was the fulfilment of promises made long before.

Read Luke 1.39-56

To ponder:

Mary has been specially chosen, but who is the clear focus of her song in vv46-56?

What does she sing about God’s character?

What does she call God in vv46-47, and what is also striking about her referring to Him as both Lord and God?

What does she sing about God’s actions: past, present and future? (The tense in the original Greek infers events that are so certain, they can be portrayed as past realities – ie, Jesus has the final victory!)

What phrase does Mary repeat in v50 and v54? Why is that so important as she sings of her Saviour?

Mercy implies there’s been a judgement. Who does Mary warn are unlikely to accept God’s mercy, and what are is their dire reversal of status?

Mary trusts God’s promises: the Son she’ll bear, but ultimately what other promises is she trusting?

To pray:

That as you understand more of God’s mercy and your salvation in Jesus, that your soul and spirit would rejoice like Mary.

That you’d trust God with his plans for your life in 2015, no matter how hard or extraordinary they might seem to you.

Pray by name for those you know who’ll hear the gospel for the first/umpteenth time this Christmas, that they might be humble enough to accept God’s mercy as He draws them to Jesus.

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Mary’s response to grace – Luke 1:26-38

A virgin conception is impossible – at least, that’s the conclusion reached by many people, who question the account from Luke 1. People object on genetic grounds (where did the DNA come from?), textual grounds (can we really trust the Bible at this point?), and with more than a small amount of cynicism (someone’s fiancée is pregnant and says it’s from God. Really?)

To make those objections, though, is missing the point. A miraculous birth is a marker of something far greater; the coming of a messiah-king, the fulfilment of plan lasting a thousand years, the birth of a divine rescuer, and the beginning of an act of recreation. That God can act on such a grand scale surely implies that he is able to bring about a remarkable pregnancy in one individual. No wonder, then, that verse 37 concludes that with a God like this, surely there is nothing that he cannot do.

Read: Luke 1:26-38

To ponder

How does Luke’s stated purpose (Luke 1:1-4) affect how we read this account?

What similarities and differences do you notice between the two accounts in 1:5-25 and 1:26-38? What is Luke’s purpose, do you think, in putting the two accounts side-by-side?

How do these verses highlight the grace, and the rule, and the power of God?

What is so remarkable about Mary’s response in verse 38? What can we learn from it?

How might we be resisting God’s plans and promises?

How might Mary’s response change our focus in the busy run up Christmas?

To pray

Pray about those areas where your plans and God’s plans are currently in conflict. How could you align your purposes with his purposes to glorify his Son?

Pray for the people invited this coming Sunday to the carol service. Pray that they, like Mary, would commit themselves to being servants of the Lord.

The right response to rescue

Back in early 2013, Dominic Szymanski made an emotional public thanks to his rescuers, having been hit by a train. He was of course hugely grateful to all those that had come to his rescue. Naturally, if he’d instead said “I couldn’t really have cared either way” we’d question how grateful he was at all. There is a right response, and a wrong response, to being rescued.

As we take a seasonal break in our Bible overview series, and in anticipation of Christmas, it’s good to be reminded of  the depth of God’s forgiveness and rescue of us in Jesus.  Luke’s gospel, repeatedly reminds us that it was society’s more dubious characters that come to Jesus, whilst the more upstanding think their status before God is secure, in and of themselves.

Read Luke 7. 36-50

To Ponder:

Why does the woman respond as she does?

What is the difference between Simon’s response to Jesus, and hers?

What has she understood about Jesus and his forgiveness and rescue?

She doesn’t say a word all evening, but it’s clear she loves Jesus. Would people say the same of us? In what ways does our lifestyle need to change to reflect love and gratitude for Jesus?

Do we ever think our debt of sin was smaller than another’s? Does that limit our love and gratitude?

So often we know we’re the woman in the story, but Simon-like attitudes remain in our heart: we think too highly of ourselves, too little of our sins, and too lowly of others. There’s no place for that in the heart of a follower of Jesus, who relies on His gracious death for us, through faith.

To Pray:

Ask for forgiveness from those times where we judge ourselves as having less a debt of sin than others. Ask that we would let the depth of God’s forgiveness change us, and that we might pray for others to know him too.

Name those you long to accept a Carol Service invitation: to come to Jesus and be saved.

Thank him for completely forgiving you, and drawing you to Jesus, the one who paid your debt.