The Gospel of Luke

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs. Matt is the associate vicar and is married to Pip.

Luke 1:46-56

Mary's Song

46 And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me-
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors."

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Reflection

The people of God at the time of Jesus' birth were used to oppression and domination. They had been ruled over in their land by countless brutal and powerful empires. In their suffering, they desperately prayed for and awaited the Messiah who God would one day send to set them free. This was a spiritual desire for some but also a political one.

Mary's song reveals some of the expectations of what the coming Messiah would do. If you know the context of the world that Jesus was born into it's difficult not to read Mary's song as anti-Roman propaganda.

This is a power encounter between two conflicting kingdoms. Much of the gospel writing can be understood through this same lens. 

However, the Kingdom that Jesus announced is utterly distinct from the kingdoms of the world.

At the end of the gospel, we see these forces come to head - Pilate wielded the most powerful army on earth. The Jewish people wanted a holy war. The Jewish leaders wanted to keep their power. And Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey - weeping.

Everything Jesus does speaks of a completely different kind of power. He enters as the king. But his crown will be a crown of thorns, his throne will be a Roman cross, his coronation will be his sacrifice as the lamb of God.

For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, what appears to be a manifestation of the devastating power of Roman authority is actually its defeat. Jesus' resurrection will be the ultimate victory over Roman power.

Behold the power of God. Behold the merciful humility of God. The king of kings with all authority and power empties himself becoming a weak, dependent baby. 

What an extraordinary song of faith Mary sings over the fetus in her womb.

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