“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 shewed 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 for ever.”
After, declaring her submission and joy in The LORD (Luke 1:46-47), Mary explains seven reasons why she looked to God for her salvation. The seven reasons undergirding Mary’s Salvation must be foundational for all Believers as well.
1. God has the sole solution to our sin problem
“For He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” ~ Luke 1:48
The first reason to look to God for salvation is that He alone has the solution to our sin problem.
Mary considered that God looked with concern at her “low estate”, her “tapeínōsis”. From both Strong’s and Thayer’s concordances, the Hebrew word “tapeínōsis” means vileness, spiritual abasement, spiritual humiliation. In other words, Mary admitted that her sinfulness was exposed before God. And it was awful, shameful and disgusting. But God did more than just look at her sinfulness, He saved Mary. Mary, went from “low estate” to “blessed, from “filthy sinner” to the mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ. God cleansed her from sin and imputed His righteousness to her so that she could be the one to bear His son. And, for that reason, all generations, all peoples, all nations would call her blessed.
A parallel of Mary’s experience is recorded in Zechariah 3. In Zechariah’s vision, the High Priest, Joshua came before into The LORD’s presence to receive a message for Israel. But, before Joshua could receive God’s message, his sin, metaphorically represented by his filthy clothes, had to be removed. God removed Joshua’s sin and clothed Joshua in righteousness: spotless white raiment that God Himself provided.
Like Mary, we too must come to recognize our abject and awful sinfulness, our filthiness in the God’s holy presence. Like Mary, we too must see that God has the solution, the only solution, to our sin problem: Jesus Christ, His son. And if we put our trust, our faith, in Christ for our salvation, God will remove our sins; He will clothe us with His righteousness; and make us, like Mary, bearers of His Son (Ephesians 3:16-19, John 14:23, John17:23, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Colossians 1:27).
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” ~ Galatians 2:20
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God;
for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness…” ~ Isaiah 61:10a
2. God is good
“For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name.” ~ Luke 1:49
The second reason to look to God for salvation is that God has been good to us. Even while sin made us repugnant to God because of His holiness, God still reached into our lives to bless us, to do great things to us.
Central to salvation is the belief that God is good.
Who can trust salvation from a “bad” God? Who wants to be saved by an “unkind” or “unfair God”? How will one have faith in God if God is not good?
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6
That is why those that oppose God always begin with questioning/challenging His goodness: “How can a good God allow _________?” Or “If God is good He wouldn’t allow _______!”
However, the problem with that approach is that God’s goodness does not depend on our ability to see/perceive it. He requires us to trust Him.
Infants cannot understand many of the good things their parents do for them. When my son was a few weeks old, he would cry relentlessly whenever he was bathed. He did not understand the importance of cleanliness. And when he was a few months old he would cry relentlessly when we took him out of his bath. He did not understand that baths should not last forever.
But my son’s lack of understanding did not mean his parents’ actions were unkind or unfair.
Mary’s circumstances give us even more insight. Mary was a poor girl from a town (Nazareth) with a bad reputation (John 1:46). Mary’s pending marriage was in jeopardy because of her pregnancy (Matthew 1:19). And if people found out she was pregnant before marriage, they would slander her. Her pregnancy would be a disgrace to her family.
Mary, by human standards, had little going for her, and that little was about to lessen. Yet Mary avers that God has been good to her: “He that is mighty hath done to me great things”.
How is that possible?
Mary could proclaim God’s goodness because she trusted in Him, not in her own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). She examined her life through eyes of faith and saw God’s blessings. She saw how God had provided for her; how He had taught her His Word, how He had guided her steps. She felt the good hand of God upon her life (Nehemiah 2:8, 18). For understanding, Mary looked to God rather than her circumstances.
We can only see God’s goodness if we trust in Him: if we, in faith, look at life through His eyes, from His perspective.
When we see by faith that God is good, we will accept His salvation.
But there is more…
Mary never forgot that she did not deserve God’s goodness: “…holy is His name”. God’s holiness precludes us from His presence. Yet, because of His love, God reaches into our lives to bless us.
For this reason, God’s offer of salvation is not to be treated lightly. Jesus Christ gave up His glory (Philippians 2:7) to come to earth and He gave up His life on a cross, all to save us from our sin.
3. God is merciful
“And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation.” ~ Luke 1:50
The third reason for salvation, given in Mary’s song, is God’s mercy: Without God’s mercy, we have no hope of avoiding judgment for our sins.
Mercy is often informally defined as “not getting the punishment that one deserves”. But, while that definition is useful, it does not fully capture the meaning of God’s mercy. God is neither a weak, nor an unfair judge not properly dispensing justice. Rather, God remembers our weakness: our complete inability, in our own power, to do what is right.
Anyone anywhere who by faith, confesses their inability AND cries out for God’s ability (His power to enable us to do right), will receive God’s mercy. And God shows His mercy not by withholding judgment, but by paying the price for us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the propitiation for our sin.
However, those who claim to be able to pay the price themselves, those who do not fear God, do not have any access to His mercy.
Mary was aware that she needed God’s mercy, that she could not escape judgment for her sin, that she needed the Saviour. Mary feared God. And so should we.
We will not look to God for salvation until we realize our need for His mercy. Until we confess that we have no inherent ability to be righteous, we will not call on God. Instead, we will declare ourselves good enough to get into heaven. God’s Word, however, tells us otherwise:
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” ~ Isaiah 64:6
4. God’s offer of salvation will not always be available
“He hath shewed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.” ~ Luke 1:51
Mary’s song reveals a fourth reason for accepting God’s offer of salvation: the window of opportunity will not stay open forever. There comes a time when God removes His light.
God reveals Himself to us: He makes us aware that He is real and His authority and power are real: “He hath shewed strength with His arm…”. In Romans 1:19-20 and John 1:9, we learn that God makes Himself known to everyone.
However, some choose to ignore God’s revelation because they prefer to live their own way: they prefer to live in the darkness of sin, Romans 1:18, 21-23, John 3:19-21.
Accepting their choice, God removes His light and allows them to become what their hearts desire, Romans 1:24, 28, Psalm 81:11-12, Ephesians 4:17-19, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; “He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.”
The Hebrew word used for “scatter” in our text is “ diaskorpízō ”. And it means “to winnow”, i.e., to separate the chaff (the proud) from the wheat (those that fear God, the humble).
Also important in understanding God’s message is the tense of the verb. In this verse, the past perfect tense is used to convey that the action has been completed.
Put together, the idea is that Mary has already seen God’s judgment of the proud, which is to separate them from the wheat and set them aside for burning (Matthew 3:12).
Just like Mary, we can see around us those that reject God and the terrible results of lives lived in the darkness of sin.
To be clear, we do not decide who no longer has access to God’s mercy: that is God’s job, not ours. It is sufficient for us to observe the degeneration caused by sin and thereby to be aware of God’s judgment and our need to accept His light NOW, before it’s too late.
Why would we believe that Almighty God allows us to respond to Him when we want? Do we presume to set God’s schedule?
If we do not know the urgency of our plight, that God will not always strive with man (Genesis 6:3), we will not look to God for salvation. If we believe we can come to God whenever we decide, we will ignore His offer of salvation.
“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:2b
5. God’s alone is King
“He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.” ~ Luke 1:52
In this verse, Mary proclaims the fifth reason for salvation: God is the sole authority in the universe.
The lyrics from a famous Bob Dylan song say,
Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Since God is the sole and ultimate authority, serving anything or anyone else is a waste of time and effort: a fool’s errand. The first sin was a result of man wanting to be his own authority (Genesis 3:1-6). The temptation was as follows
“…in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods…” ~ Genesis 3:5b
That desire for independence from God, for self-determination, has never left the hearts of men and women. We do not want to submit to God’s authority over us. But Mary’s statement shows us that our insubordination is futile: God is in control. Even in our imagined mightiness, God will pull us down from our self-made thrones. Conversely, when we are humble, when we yield to His authority, God will lift us up.
Looking to God for salvation requires that we acknowledge Him as the ultimate authority over our lives. In everything we do in life, we must be about serving Him. The one who seeks to serve himself will never come to God.
6. God’s supplies all our needs
“He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away.” ~ Luke 1:53
The sixth reason for salvation given in Mary’s song is acknowledging that every good thing comes from God.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father…” ~ James 1:17a
In other words, if you are looking for good in life you must come to God, because that’s where ALL good things come from. There is no way to get good things aside from coming to God. This is more than just saying God is good, it is saying God alone is good: there is no good without God.
This concept is fairly straightforward, but we run into problems with the definition of “good” things. Our tendency is to use our human nature to define what good is. By this approach, good things are those things that appeal to our bodies, our way of thinking, and/or our pride (1 John 2:16, James 4:3).
However, not only do ALL good come from God alone, God also defines what is good (Luke 11:13). And God is not concerned with feeding our lusts. God wants to bless us with things that primarily benefit our spirit, not our flesh. Our spirits are eternal but our flesh is temporal.
Indeed, focusing on fleshly desires causes our spirits to wither (Psalm 106:13-15, Numbers 11).
God feeds those hungry for righteousness with good things, things that will feed their spiritual growth. But those who are rich, those who are self-sufficient in bodily desires, in philosophies of life, or in self-importance, they receive nothing good from God.
If we reckon that we can get good things outside of God we will never accept His salvation. Instead, we will consider other paths more agreeable to our mindset. Likewise, we will never accept God’s salvation if we are seeking things to feed our lusts, because God is not concerned with assuaging our flesh-focused desires.
To accept God’s salvation we must believe, as Mary did, that all that is truly good comes from God alone.
7. God’s is faithful, we can trust His promises
“He hath [helped] His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy; As He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.” ~ Luke 1:54-55
Mary’s seventh reason for salvation is God’s faithfulness. She recalled the promises that God had made to Abraham, the Father of the Hebrew nation, a few thousand years earlier. And God had remained true to His promises: God was faithful: God’s Word was true.
Moreover, God’s faithfulness was not because of man’s goodness. Indeed, over the years, the Hebrews had broken all their promises to God and had failed in all their obligations. God was faithful because of His mercy, because He remembered that man is “dust” (Psalm 103:14). God was faithful because He was willing to pay the price to redeem the Hebrews and all of mankind for their unfaithfulness.
God’s faithfulness means we can trust Him, it means that we can find rest in Him, we never have to worry that His character will change, or that His plans will change.
Belief in God’s faithfulness is crucial for accepting His salvation. If God is not faithful, could we believe that we are truly saved?
Our difficulty in trusting in God’s faithfulness often arise from insufficient patience. It is instructive that Mary examined God’s promises over the course of thousands of years. It was only then that she could see His faithfulness clearly.
Abraham died long before all of God’s promises to him were fulfilled. But though Abraham’s death meant he never lived to see God fulfill His promises, it didn’t mean God wouldn’t keep them. Likewise, we sometimes have to wait for a long time to see God’s promises fulfilled.
“The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” ~ Lamentations 3:25-26
Moses had to wait eighty years, forty of which were in the desert tending sheep. But God kept His promise.
Joseph has to wait more than ten years, mostly in an Egyptian prison. But God kept His promise.
It is our impatience, our unwillingness to wait, that causes us to doubt God’s faithfulness.
But, if we, by faith and by testimony in His Word, believe that God is faithful, then we can also trust in Him for our salvation. Mary believed God was faithful, therefore, she trusted God as her Saviour.
“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations” ~ Deuteronomy 7:9
At this time, the Church is beset by easy “believism”: whereby we confess faith in a God of our own making. Some believe in a God that does not judge sin. Others believe God exists to give them whatever their lust desires. Still, others believe Jehovah is just one God of many.
Real salvation is available only from the real God of the Bible, not of our imaginations and idiosyncrasies. We come to Jehovah on His terms, not on ours. He is the God that He reveals Himself to be, not the one we wish for.
True salvation requires that we believe what God says about Himself in His Word. Therefore, it behooves us all to examine ourselves to discover what it is that we truly believe.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.
Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5