Advent Week 4: Luke 1:46-56



2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

Luke 1:46-56

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

Romans 16:25-27

Luke 1:26-38


The Lord sends Gabriel to Mary to tell of the Lord’s plan and Mary responded to the angelic message by going to stay with Elizabeth until just before the birth of her child.


Mary’s visit provided further confirmation of the message in that she was greeted by Elizabeth apparently spontaneously with a blessing (verse 42).


She realized that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah, and she was overjoyed that she should visit her. She praised Mary for accepting the angel’s word. Even the movements of John in her womb were seen as a response to Mary’s arrival.


Mary’s poetic reply is known as the ‘Magnificat’ (the Latin verb for ‘glorifies’). It uses the form and language of a Jewish psalm and is loaded with echoes of Old Testament praise to God. Inspiration for the words came from 1 Samuel 2:1–10, the song of Hannah after God had given her a child.


      The shape of the song is that a shout of exultation, of praise to God is followed by a series of clauses indicating why he is to be praised.


After the briefest reference to Mary’s own reason for thanksgiving, the song tells of what God does for his people, speaking quite concretely of his judgments on the mighty and his blessings for the humble—all in fulfillment of his promises to his people. The past tenses in verses 51–54 most probably express what God is going to do in the future through the Messiah—actions that have already begun to take place in that the Messiah has already been conceived, and actions that are of the same kind as what God has done in the past history of Israel. This is thus a metaphorical description of the work of Jesus.[1] Particularly, this passage looks to the future work of Jesus in his return. Thus the theme of his return.


1. People are to magnify the Lord (1:47): Magnify to glorify DO NOT magnify to demean

μεγαλύνω megalúnō; fut. megalunṓ, from mégas (3173), great, strong. To make great, enlarge. With the acc., in relation to the borders of garments (Matt. 23:5); to show great mercy to someone or to do him great kindness (Luke 1:58); magnify or praise (Luke 1:46; Acts 5:13; 10:46; 19:17; 2 Cor. 10:15; Phil. 1:20; Sept.: 2 Sam. 7:26; Ps. 34:3; 69:31).

Syn.: doxázō (1392), to glorify; hupsóō (5312), to, elevate; sébomai (4576), to revere; hairéomai (138), to prefer; aírō (142), to lift up; phusióō (5448), to inflate; auxánō (837), to grow, increase; prokóptō (4298), to cut one’s way forward, advance.[2]


A. Mary repeats herself, as usual in Hebrew poetry, to emphasize the point. Mary says the same

thing in a different way to make the point obvious.

1. Magnify – take what appears to be small and barely visible because it is far away and make it visible so as to observe it

Example: the sun

2. Magnify – take what is very small and make it look bigger than it is in order to

observe it

Example: a paramecium (cell)


Why magnify the Lord?


2. God condescends to us (1:48): God too notice of Mary and he takes notice of us

A. The incarnation has implications regarding Jesus’ identification with his people

1. Hebrews 2:14-18

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:14-18 ESV)


3. Our God is holy (1:49): He has done great things for Mary

A. Great things means things man cannot do, therefore, holy is his name


4. Our God is full of mercy (1:50): His mercy goes on from generation to generation.

A. Mercy is for the one who knows the Holy God of creation and fears him

5. Our God is full of might (1:51): Jesus has a strong arm that scatters

A. Outstretched Arm – Military term used in Deuteronomy and the prophets

God uses to describe his rescue of Israel from Egyptian captivity.

B. Hand – Military term used to describe God’s movement of nations and particularly his movement of his people in discipline       for their sin


6. Our God reverses the order of fallen men (1:52–53): Jesus humbles the proud and exalts the lowly.

James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 quoted from Proverbs 3:34 (Septuagint)

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 ESV)

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5 ESV)


A. Jesus’ reign reverses the order created by fallen man.

1. The proud are nothing because man’s strivings are not counted.

2. The humble are saved for they counted Jesus better than themselves.


B. The proud and rich are those who owe their status to quarreling and

injustice, not gain that has been brought by God for God’s purposes.

1. Do not boast in what we do but what he has done

2. Do not gain by the slightest cheat


7. Our God is faithful (1:54–55): Jesus will keep all his promises to Israel.

A. Romans 11 reminds us that Jesus is faithful and will complete his promise

to make a great nation comprised of a people from every tribe, nation and


1. Christmas points us to the global scope of the season

2. Christmas points us to the faithfulness of God to complete what he started


[1] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Lk 1:39–56.

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary : New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

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