Week of December 24

Fourth Sunday of Advent Devotional:

Read the Bible Through: John 19-21
Fourth Advent Reading: Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:46-48
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant’”
Luke 1:46–48, ESV


Pope Paul VI once wrote a January 1, 1972, celebratory letter with the title “If you want peace, work for justice.” He stated that a peace that is not the result of true respect for others is not true “Peace.” He equated this sincere feeling for humankind to justice. Luke, in his celebratory Gospel letter, records the words of Mary who praised God for His sincere act on behalf of humankind that would bring the Prince of Peace into the world.
On this fourth Sunday of Advent, the “Angel Candle,” or “Candle of Love,” reminds us that God’s peace came into the world through the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. The final white candle, “The Christ Candle” will be lit as well on this Christmas Eve. It represents the pure Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29)!

I have chosen to use Mary’s Song as our verse for a key reason. She reminds us that God has had a plan of redemption throughout the ages, and His plan works in the lives of those who humbly receive Him (Matthew 5:3).

The Meaning of the Text

The setting
This extraordinary song is known as the “Magnificat,” which takes its name from the opening verb of the Latin Vulgate’s translation of Mary’s hymn (see 1:46). Mary praised the Lord for what He was about to do, and for the role that she was to fulfill in that plan. She spills forth praise to God, the “Savior.” This word is used 35 times with respect to God in the Old Testament. The psalmist, for example, wrote that we would receive blessing and righteousness from the God of our salvation, and Mary pours out her joy to the God who saves (24:5; 25:5; 95:1; cf. also Micah 7:7; Habakkuk 3:18)!
Friends, how might a narrative that centers on a Jewish maiden, who praises God for the fulfillment of centuries-old Jewish prophecy, intersect our lives? Luke, the author of this Gospel, wrote this book in the early 60’s A.D. for Gentile converts in general. Luke desires to show, especially Gentile Christians, on what firm historic facts that their faith is based (NIC, 41). His motive is practical and religious. He ultimately writes “with the object of convincing, converting, saving, and spiritually edifying his fellow-men” (NIC, 42).
Not the color of our skin but the content of our hearts
The subtitle above will likely call to mind Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, but I tweaked it because my point is rooted in human need that is much deeper than civil rights. Do you wonder why Mary would offer such extraordinary lavish praise? The hope of every Jew was grounded in a coming Messiah and the freedom from oppression that He would provide. King’s speech ignited a movement that produced civil rights for African Americans, but Mary’s praise would hold implications for every human on this planet!
God so loved that He gave!
Salvation for people of low estate. Mary states that God had been mindful of her humble state. She grounds her praise at first upon the knowledge that God’s coming Son would bring salvation to the poor and down trodden. Luke will refer to this humble state again in 1:52. He need not be referring to her childlessness (cf. Hannah in 1 Samuel) because she is a young maiden at this time. It refers to her “low state” in worldly terms (cf. Acts 8:33; Philippians 3:21; James 1:10; NAC). Her child would demonstrate this same status, being born in a manger to poor, insignificant parents.
Genuine justice. The Lord had in mind as well the geo-political insignificance of Israel (1:50-55). The angel would announce, “peace on earth” to the Bethlehem shepherds following the birth of its Prince, the Lord Jesus (Luke 2:14). He would demonstrate the goodness of God by bringing hope to the poor and downtrodden among His people, genuine justice.
Eternal life. The result of God’s justice is revealed in the phrase, “from now on” (1:48; NAC). Luke will use this phrase several times in his Gospel account to refer to important events in salvation history (see 12:52; 22:18; Acts 18:6). So, this birth held implications for the future—indeed, all eternity. It continues to hold lasting significance for all humanity. And it is deeply significant for you!

Living the Truth

Did you read the story of the young boy who disappeared from England six years ago after going on holiday in Spain with his mother and grandfather and was recently found to be alive and in good health in a rural area of southern France? The young man’s mother had taken him and vanished. She had been involved in a “spiritual community.”
He decided to leave and was found by a French motorist making deliveries while walking down a road on a rainy night. Talk about humble means! A captive innocent eleven-year-old child, now seventeen-years-old, was lost and now is found. I wonder what were his first words when he was found?
For that matter, do you remember your first words when you humbled yourself and cried out to God for His salvation? There is deep significance in this fourth Sunday of Advent because it reminds us that God bends Himself to establish a relationship with the voiceless and faceless and that Mary’s moment in human history impacts every generation of humankind! God did bring lasting love and peace into this world. Praise Him, we are beneficiaries of it.

Family Focus on Prayer

1. Many of us have been broken and downtrodden by the circumstances of life. The pure joy of an insignificant maiden can be ours today when we consider that God had us in heart when He sent His Son into the world. Write down words of praise, then join hands as a family and offer them to God.
2. Much of our world exists each day under oppressive, tyrannical regimes. God’s gift of a Savior offers hope and justice to suffering humanity. Pray that God’s peace on earth through His Son would bring eternal hope to the hopeless.
May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock
Here is a link to daily advent readings that we believe will enhance your family worship time throughout this season: Daily Advent Readings