In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and
returned to her home. — Luke 1:39–56 (ESV)
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight”—that line from O Little Town of Bethlehem with poetic simplicity explains that the pregnancy of Mary and the birth of Christ was the most momentous and anticipated event of all history.
This is because ever since humanity was first plunged into sin and rebellion, there has been reason to despair in the world. The nasty cancer of sin poisons everything. It is the reason behind every anxiety, every broken home, every tragedy, every war, every injustice, and every corrupt politician. Worst of all, it is the reason for our alienation from God and our deserving of judgment from God. And as we look for something to hope in, we can only admit—we can not give ourselves reason to hope.
But God demonstrated his love to sinful humanity by answering our despair with a promise to save and redeem. With those promises, he gave the broken world reason to hope. This is who God is. He is the God of Hope. In a world full of rebellion and brokenness, he gives us reason to look forward to the fulfillment of his gracious plan. This hope is a confidence that he will accomplish what he has promised because his word is the guarantee of what is to come. One thing is for certain: What God says… happens. Mary, the pregnant virgin, is the proof that God meant to fulfill his promise.
One thing is for certain: What God says… happens. Mary, the pregnant virgin, is the proof that God meant to fulfill his promise.
I can think of no better example or analogy for Christian hope than what we see in this passage: two pregnant ladies rejoicing for the children in their wombs. Elizabeth was barren. Mary was a virgin. Neither had any natural reason to expect children within their wombs. But God spoke, and Elizabeth was barren no longer. God spoke and the impossible became possible; Mary’s virgin womb became pregnant with Jesus. And just like the situation of Elizabeth and Mary’s wombs seemed hopeless with regard to childbirth, God speaks into our seemingly hopeless situation and answers every sin-tainted area with hope.
How far does this hope go? Listen to Mary’s song! This hope touches everything; it is not merely that her soul would be saved, but that God would make right a world scarred by sin. She rejoices in the Lord her Savior who shows mercy, and this mercy includes the promise that God will us his strong arm to scatter the proud, to break the corrupt political powers, and to provide good food for the hungry. Mary teaches us with this song that we must not limit our hope in God in any way—we must hope in him for all things—that he would bring his blessing “far as the curse is found.” For he has given us reason to hope.
Oh Holy Redeemer,
we marvel at the far-reaching grace of our Savior.
Our world was formed out of nothing at all;
Of course its architect can redeem unthinkable circumstances.
One bite of fruit that was never meant for us brought crashing down a weight that was also never meant for us. Worry. Heartbreak. Covenants shattered—searing loss. And we confess, Father, that occasionally these ring louder to our ears than the wonder of Christmas.
Alas, this broken world is not our home.
Though we may be sojourning through here, our identities are in Christ as citizens of a holy Kingdom.
Though we deserved to be left to rot in our own filth, you spoke.
Your grace, a light into the deep cavern of our depravity.
Your mercy, a balm to every pain of this fallen world.
Your hope, a way out of the darkness and into the light.
Your freedom, promises fulfilled.
Even when life looks grim and the statistics are stacked against us, no story is too far gone for the Father’s love to restore. For surely, if a way can be made for a virgin birth, our tattered lives aren’t too much to be mended.
Grant us, Oh Lord, a hope that cannot be shaken.
Open our eyes to see the work you’re doing around us to make all things new,
And bring before us constant reminders of all that already has been done,
From this time forth and forevermore.