GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
By Keith L. Estes
Luke 1: 46-56
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever. And Mary abode with her [Elizabeth] about three months, and returned to her own house.
Here we have a passage which has become one of the great hymns of the Church- the Magnificat. It is a passage which is saturated in the Old Testament. It is specially kin to Hannah’s song of praise in 1 Samuel 2: 1-10. It has been said that religion is dope, the opiate of the people: but, as Stanley Jones said, “the Magnificat is the most revolutionary document in the world.” The Magnificat speaks of three of the revolutions of God.
(1) He scatters the proud in the plans of their hearts. That is a moral revolution. Christianity is the death of pride. Why? Because if a man sets his life beside the life of Christ it tears the last vestiges of pride from him. Sometimes something happens to a man which with a vivid, blinding, revealing light shames him. O. Henry has a short story like this. There was a lad who was brought up in a village. In school he used to sit beside a girl and they were fond of each other. He went to the city and he fell on evil ways. He became a pickpocket and a petty thief. One day he had just snatched an old lady’s wallet. It was clever work, and he was pleased. And then he saw coming down the street the girl whom he used to know, still sweet with the radiance of innocence. And suddenly he saw himself for the cheap, vile thing he was. Burning with shame, he leaned his head against the cool iron of a lamp standard. “God,” he said, “I wish I could die.” He saw himself. Christ enables a man to see himself. It is the deathblow to pride. The moral revolution has begun.
(2) He casts down the mighty- he exalts the humble. That is a social revolution. Christianity puts an end to the world’s labels and prestige, Muretus was a wandering scholar of the middle ages. He was poor. In an Italian town he took ill and was taken to a hospital for waifs and strays. The doctors were discussing his case in Latin, never dreaming he could understand. They suggested that since he was such a worthless wanderer they might use him for medical experiments. He looked up and answered them in their own learned tongue. “Call no man worthless for whom Christ died.” When we have realized what Christ did for all men, it is no longer possible to speak about a common man. The social grades and ranks are gone.
(3) He has filled those who are hungry…those who are rich he has sent empty away. That is an economic revolution. A non-Christian society is an acquisitive society where each man is out to amass as much as he can get. A Christian society is a society where no man dares to have too much while others have too little, where every man must get only to give away. There is loveliness in the Magnificat but in that loveliness there is dynamite. Christianity begets a revolution in each man, and a revolution in the world.
Ref. The Daily Study Bible The Gospel of Luke by William Barclay, The Westminster Press Philadelphia
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