Rejoice in God Your Savior
4th Sunday of Advent
Rejoice in God Your Savior
Text: Luke 1:39-55
“Why me?” She was just another young maiden living in little Nazareth near the Sea of Galilee. She was engaged to her husband to be, a simple carpenter originally from the small village of Bethlehem. A young lady no different than any other—until the angel Gabriel appeared to her.
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” “Who? Me?” she thought as she looked at the heavenly being with a troubled stare. “I’m highly favored? Why me?”
“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus . . . So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
“Me? Why me?” Still dumbfounded, Mary trusted in the immeasurable grace of God and replied, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
“But why me?” The thought kept running through her mind as she packed a bag and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea. She was going to see her relative Elizabeth. She had to tell her what had happened and she wanted to hear more about Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy.
Elizabeth was so filled with joy that she had a similar reaction—“Why me?” “Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” The joy was so great that even the baby John the Baptist leaped for joy in her womb.
The merciful, undeserved love of the Lord swelled up in Mary’s heart. Her joy could hardly be contained. It spilled over with these words: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” The grace of God touched her down to her very soul. So she glorified the Lord and rejoiced in God because he was her Savior.
Some churches elevate and glorify Mary. Some pray to Mary and call Mary holy. Some even give Mary part of the credit for salvation. But Mary knew differently. She knew all the sins she had committed. She knew the guilt she carried. She confessed her sin in those two words—“my Savior.” Mary needed a Savior, too. So who was she to receive a Savior? Moreover, who was she to deserve being the mother of the Savior? The “why me?” of God’s grace caused her to rejoice in God her Savior.
“Why me?” The same question runs through my mind. After all the things that I have said in my life! After all the things that I have done in my life! I’m only one person among billions in this world. Maybe I’m the worst sinner of them all.
So why would God come to this world for me? Why would God carry my sins on a cross? Why would God bow his head in death for me? Why would God wash me in the waters of baptism to give me that forgiveness? Why would God plan that I would be in a country, in a place, in a family that would hear the Word of God and learn of his grace? Why am I a Christian living in America rather than a Muslim in Pakistan?
This is something we cannot understand. The grace of God—his merciful, undeserved love—is simply beyond what we can fathom. We don’t know why he so loved the world that he gave his only Son. We don’t know why he chose to offer forgiveness. We don’t know why he chose us. But he did. By grace.
This merciful, undeserved love of the Lord swells up in our hearts just as it did in Mary. Our joy can hardly be contained. So today this joy spills over with the same beautiful words of Mary’s song: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Here now is the rest of the song that we join Mary to sing, phrase by phrase:
“For he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” God knew exactly what Mary was. She was a humble virgin from Nazareth. She was nothing special or out of the ordinary. Yet God chose her by his grace to be the mother of the Savior. God elevated her to the status of being a believer who would be in heaven.
God knows exactly what we are, too. We are nothing special or out of the ordinary. We are lowly sinners. But God has been mindful of our humble state and has sent his Son to raise us up. From the humility of life in this world we will rise to the glory of eternal life in heaven.
“From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” Truly all generations have a respect for Mary who had the honor of being Jesus’ mother. Again, some to the fault of even worshiping her. But Mary shows once more here that it was God who was special, not she. She doesn’t say, “I have done great things for God.” Instead she states, “The Mighty One has done great things for me.”
We know the same. What have we done that is so special for the Lord? What have we done to earn his favor or his love? Nothing! Sin after sin after sin. The only great and mighty thing God should do for us is throw us in the depths of hell. But from generation to generation we will be called blessed. Our children, our children’s children, and their children will call us blessed because the Mighty One has done great things for us. He has forgiven our sins and will bring us to the glories of heaven. Indeed, holy is his name!
“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” Mary was a good Jew. She knew well of God’s mercy in generations past. Her ancestors David, Solomon, and many more had sinned in extraordinary measures and ways. But God extended his mercy to David to Solomon and to generation after generation before them and after them, all the way down to Mary.
Generation after generation has passed for 2,000 years since Mary, and the Lord is still showing mercy to those who fear him today. Oh, the sins we commit! Many times we even commit the same sins over and over. What loving patience God has! What mercy God extends to us! From generation to generation his love is so great for those who fear him!
“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.” Often in the Bible God’s arm is described as accomplishing mighty deeds. That’s how the Hebrew people talked. Look at the mighty deeds he has performed, scattering those who are proud. He destroyed Pharaoh and the Egyptians when Israel came up out of Egypt through the Red Sea on dry ground. He made the sun stand still for a day for Joshua against the Amorites. He crumbled the walls of Jericho. He destroyed the 450 prophets of Baal with Elijah. And if any proud king or prince thought he would be father of the Messiah, God placed his Son in a young virgin’s womb. What mighty things he does to scatter the proud!
Today we are gathered here in this little room. There are no celebrities or star athletes here, no Nobel Peace Prize winners, no world-renowned philosophers. We are just simple, every day people who also believe in the mighty deeds performed by the Lord. From the creation of the world to Moses and the Israelites to the walls of Jericho to a death on a cross to an empty tomb—these are the mighty deeds of our God. And come Judgment Day, all those who are so proud with their wisdom or wealth will be scattered while we are lifted up to heaven.
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” In all of world history, not only biblical history, think of all the mighty rulers who thought they were so great and powerful. We think of Pharaoh in Moses’ time. We think of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, and many more. Those who thought they were great, some even thinking they were gods, the Lord quickly humbled and sent away empty. But then it was a young virgin in a stable who ended up being the mother of the Savior.
God still shows his might and his grace like this today. Look how many celebrities and athletes rise to iconic status in our world. It gets to the point where people almost believe that Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan or Mel Gibson or Tom Cruise are like gods. But oh how quickly the mighty fall! How quickly the rich let their love of money send them to bankruptcy! We may not have mansions or Maseratis, but God still fills the hungry with good things. He gives us food and shelter, house and home, and all that we need to keep our body and life, as he leads us safely to our heavenly homes. This is more of the grace of God.
“He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” The Lord didn’t forget his promises. He told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that all nations on earth would be blessed through him. He repeated that promise to Isaac and to Jacob and to Judah and to David and to Solomon and to many more. The Lord remembered his promises to his people and kept those promises just as he had said. This child born to Mary would be the fulfillment of all those promises.
We have the blessing of looking backwards at the fulfillment of God’s promises. He did send his Son. Jesus did die for us. Jesus did take away our sins. Jesus did rise to life. God kept all those promises. So he will continue to help us by remembering his mercy and keeping his promises still today. He will be with us always. He will work all things for our good. He will bring us safely to heaven. The Lord always remembers his mercy, always remembers his promises, and always keeps those promises.
“Why me?” Mary didn’t seem to understand why God would choose her to be the mother of the promised Savior. But then again, none of us can ever truly understand God’s grace.
Why would God love us so much? Why would God die for us? Why would God continue to forgive our sins? Why would God want us in his heaven forever? We don’t know why those things are true, but we give thanks that they are!
So this grace of God that caused Mary to run off to Elizabeth’s house, that caused John the Baptist to leap in the womb, and that caused Mary to burst into song still today touches our hearts to overflow with joy. This Christmas and every day, Rejoice in God Your Savior!
Posted on December 23, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged Alexander the Great, Church, Elizabeth, Genghis Khan, Jesus, John the Baptist, Joy, Julius Caesar, Luke, Luke 1, Magnificat, Manger, Mary, Michael Jordan, Napoleon, Rejoice, Sermons, Tiger Woods. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.