As I consider Christ’s birth, the words of Mary stand out to me. In Luke 1, starting in verse 46, she says: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever."
There’s a theme that runs throughout her song of praise that is echoed by Jesus several times during his ministry. We see that the Lord exalts the humble and brings low the proud.
Mary begins by praising God for looking on her humble estate and blessing her. Although we haven’t been blessed in the same way as Mary, although none of us have carried and given birth to the Savior, this is a statement that is true also of us.
Jesus came into the world for the humble. His mercy is for those who fear his name. This is true from generation to generation.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. Jesus came and gave his life for the sin of all people. God's desire is that all should repent and come to a knowledge of the truth. And Jesus offers his forgiveness to all people. However, it’s only those who see their low condition, it’s only those who understand their sin and their need for salvation, who’ll receive this blessing.
This brings to mind the words of Jesus in Luke 5:31: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Jesus made this statement after being criticized for eating with tax collectors and sinners. He was criticized by those who believed themselves to be righteous. And his point is clear. It’s the sick, the sinful, who need help and not the righteous.
In saying this, Jesus wasn’t stating that those criticizing him were more righteous than those with whom he ate. According to Scripture, we are all sick. No one is righteous (Romans 3:10). All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). However, it’s only those who realize they’re sick who will seek the help of the doctor. It’s only those who are sick who will receive the help that a doctor can offer.
The same message is contained in the words of Mary. Those who are exalted will be brought low. This isn’t because they’re unable to receive his blessing. It’s because they think so highly of themselves that they will not receive his blessing. But those who are lowly, who see their need for salvation, rejoice in the gift Jesus brings. They see their need for salvation and they gladly receive it.
As we celebrate Christmas this year, may we see our need. May we understand the salvation we require, as well as the salvation Jesus offers. When this is true of us, we can, like Mary, rejoice in his mercy. We can rejoice in the fact that we too will be called blessed.