The Two Sides of the Magnificat

The Magnificat, when Mary praises God after Gabriel tells her that she will be the mother of the Messiah, is a beautiful picture of the grace of God towards fallen humanity (Luke 1:46-56). But there is another side to the Magnificat ignored by many.

Just as God is merciful to his children, he is righteous in all his judgments, and he will show his strength and lay low those who reject his grace (Luke 1:51). It is only when we understand his righteous anger against sin that his grace becomes amazing. We cannot have one side of the Magnificat without the other.

Isaiah prophesied the names of God long before the birth of Jesus. He is the Wonderful Counselor, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and the child in Mary’s womb was also Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6). Mary and Elizabeth understood this truth. This knowledge is why, as the two were telling each other their news, Elizabeth became overcome with wonder and said, “why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me (Luke 1: 43)?”

When Mary begins to praise God, it is no wonder her soul magnified the Lord, and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior (Luke 1:46-47). She was but a humble servant in need of salvation. Her own sins condemned her, but God showed her favor. She would be the mother of the promised child who would save her from her sins, along with anyone else who believes in him. All generations will call her blessed (Luke 1:48).

The Lord is mighty, and he has done great things for her. His mercy is for all those who fear him from generation to generation (Luke 1:49-50). In giving us his Son, he has filled the spiritually hungry with good things. He has done these great things because of his mercy as he spoke to Abraham, the father of the faith (Luke 1:54-55). All who placed their faith in Jesus are sons and daughters of Abraham and will be saved.

However, never forget the other side of the Magnificat. Not everyone is a child of Abraham through faith; therefore, not everyone is a child of God. For those outside the grace of God, Jesus will show his strength and scatter the proud. He will bring down the mighty from their thrones (Luke 1:51-52). Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled, but those who believe they are rich in themselves will be sent away (Luke 1:53).

This Christmas, I pray that we will celebrate the birth of Jesus as Mary did; by rejoicing in the mercy provided by the Mighty God who took on flesh. May we rejoice in one side of the Magnificat because we have been set free from the other. Only in Jesus can our sins be washed clean. He will lay low those who stand proud in their sins, but those who are poor in spirit and hunger for righteousness shall be filled with amazing grace.

-D. Eaton

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