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A PROMISE KEPT
By Dale D. Meredith
February 11, 2018
University Baptist Church
790 Dodge Road
Getzville, NY 14068

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Good News Bible, The Bible in Today’s English Version, copyright ©1976 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.

46 Mary said,
"My heart praises the Lord; 47 my soul is glad because of God my Savior, 48 for he has remembered me his lowly servant!
From now on all people will call me happy, 49 because of the great things the Mighty God has done for me.
His name is holy; 50 from one generation to another he shows mercy to those who honor him.
51 He has stretched out his mighty arm and scattered the proud with all their plans.
52 He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has kept the promise he made to our ancestors, and has come to the help of his servant Israel.
55 He has remembered to show mercy to Abraham and to all his descendants forever!"  (Luke 1:46-55, TEV)

WHY LUKE WROTE: Luke wrote the book to Theophilus, a Gentile, so he would know the full truth about what he had been taught. Theophilus knew about Jesus. He may have even become a believer. However, he was needed to be fully instructed in what his faith meant and that the Heavenly Kingdom of God was not an attempt to replace the earthly kingdom of Rome. Luke included Old Testament information to provide background. Luke began with the announcement that God had answered Zechariah’s prayer and he would have a son John. John would introduce Jesus to the world. Luke next included the announcement to Mary of the birth of her son Jesus. We are probably familiar with the story of how the angel Gabriel told the young girl Mary, promised in marriage, that "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and God's power will rest upon you. For this reason, the holy child will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). He will be the king of the descendants of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end!" (Luke 1:33). This means that Jesus will be the Messiah that Israel was expecting. Mary didn’t understand this could happen because she was a virgin. The angel told her that “there is nothing that God cannot do (Luke 1:37)." To which Mary replied, "I am the Lord's servant may it happen to me as you have said (Luke 1:38).” No argument. No questioning. No bargaining. Just let it happen. Mary went immediately to visit Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth. That is where Mary gave the praise to God that we read a few minutes ago.

In 1 Samuel we read that the priests had become corrupted. Eli’s sons were scoundrels (1 Samuel 1:12). Samuel was born to be the prophet to call the people back to God. Hannah also had praised God for the birth of her son Samuel. Mary is Hannah of the New Covenant. Her son will call the people to God and offer forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Luke included Mary’s praise to show that Israel had long expected the coming of a Messiah.

MARY’S PRAISE: Let us examine Mary’s praise:

"My heart praises the Lord; 47 my soul is glad because of God my Savior, 48 for he has remembered me his lowly servant!  Mary had no position of power, strength, education, wealth or special abilities. She was simply a young, unmarried woman. And, yet, God chose her. God used a willing, obedient, believing girl to be the mother of Jesus. This is still true today. When God wants to do something, He looks not for the mighty, powerful person who can do great things on his own strength, power and ability. God looks for someone who trusts God and is obedient and willing to do as God asks. God will provide the strength, power, and ability to complete the task. Then, God will get the praise and not the person doing the task. It is amazing what a person yielded to God can do.

From now on all people will call me happy, 49 because of the great things the Mighty God has done for me. The word translated as "happy" in our translation is sometimes translated as blessed. Blessed is not an easy word to define. It can mean things like happy, joy, fortunate, or spiritual happiness. Perhaps one of the best places to see what blessed means is to examine what we call the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3-12.

In the Beatitudes Jesus said that the blessed are those who are spiritually poor, those who mourn, those who are humble, those whose greatest desire is to do what God wants, those who are merciful to others, those who are pure in heart, those who work for peace, those who are persecuted because they do what God wants, and those who are insulted and lied about because they follow God. It seems that those who are blessed haven’t achieved power, prestige, money, or a stopping place. Jesus does say that those who are blessed will receive something. Those who are blessed will be comforted, they will receive the promises of God, they will be satisfied by what they do for God, they will receive mercy from God, they will see God, they will be God’s children, they will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God, and they will receive a great reward in heaven.

I like to think of happy or blessed as the feeling of peace and comfort that we have when we are satisfied with our life.

Let me outline how we can be blessed, or happy, as Mary was blessed.

Mary was blessed because she knew that God had chosen her. She was a young girl with nothing. Yet God chose her from all the other girls to be the mother of Jesus. We may not be able to do what others can do. But God has chosen us – each one of us. God loves each of us and wants each of us to let him live in our lives. We did not first choose God. God first chose each of us from all the people in the world to be his child. It is as though he says, “I love you and want you to be my child.” We are blessed because God loves us.

Mary was blessed because she had something significant to do. Life is really boring when it seems that we have nothing important to do. Jesus would be the Savior of the world. His life, death, and resurrection would affect all people forever. Mary was responsible for caring for and raising the boy Jesus. That is something significant. Jesus has also given us something to do. He said, “Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” That is a significant assignment. No one of us can do all of that in our life time. However, we can be active sharing the love of Jesus to one person at a time. We might witness for Him. We might baptize for Him. We might teach for Him. Each of us can have a place of importance. We are blessed to be doing something so significant and important to God.

Mary was blessed because she had peace. She still lived in a country where they tried to kill her baby and did finally kill him when he was an adult, but she had peace that God would care for her. She had peace that she knew she was doing what she should do. We are blessed because God gives us peace. In John 16:33 Jesus told the disciples that they would have to suffer, but they should be brave, because he had defeated the world. They would have peace by being united to him. And so can we. When we are united with him and we know we are doing what he asks, we have peace.

Mary was blessed because she had hope. Mary was not discouraged by what she could see. She was young. She had no possessions. She wasn't even considered an important person by the people around her. However, she had hope that through Jesus she could please God. We are blessed because we have hope. How we live now is not all there is. We can not see it yet, but Jesus said he went to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-3). We have a hope for all of eternity. We will be included.

Mary was blessed because she had joy. She may not have sat around and giggled all day. She just knew everything was going to be all right. She didn't know how it would all happen, she just knew it would be all right because God had said it would be all right. We are blessed because we have joy. There is within us the feeling that no matter what happens God is at work in us making us what he wants us to be. We have the feeling that we will finish the race and finish it well because Jesus is our comfort, strength, and joy.

His name is holy; 50 from one generation to another he shows mercy to those who honor him.
51 He has stretched out his mighty arm and scattered the proud with all their plans.
52 He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.

Mary was thinking of all the things that God had done for Israel in the past. She was referring to things written in the Psalms and writing of the prophets. The proud, the mighty kings, the rich represent those who expected to be served rather than be shepherds and helpers of Israel. The lowly, the hungry are those who are powerless, who are subjected to harsh treatment are those who want to know and follow God. God had helped Israel survive even with the opposition. The things He had done for Israel had resulted in Mary being able to hear God and be chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. In reviewing what God had done she also knew He could do those things again. That was what was expected of the Messiah. The Messiah would represent God in their midst and help them and do the mighty things God had done in Israel’s past. He would be the everlasting king.

We can also think of times when God has given us things and done things for us. He has forgiven us. He has given us homes, families, food, and jobs. That is just a short general list. It would take pages to list all the things God as done for us.

54 He has kept the promise he made to our ancestors, and has come to the help of his servant Israel.
55 He has remembered to show mercy to Abraham and to all his descendants forever!"  Mary saw the action of God in the history of Israel as the fulfillment of the ancient promises of the Messiah. No wonder she was so excited. The Messiah was finally coming. It was a promise kept. However, she couldn’t tell anyone. She was young. She was powerless. She pregnant. She wasn’t married. Who could she tell but Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the right one to tell. Elizabeth welcomed Mary’s story. She encouraged Mary. She celebrated with Mary the good news of the Messiah.

Mary was not happy just for herself. She was happy for all that would accept the Messiah and be included in the provision of God for them to have their sins forgiven and be accepted by God. They could have love, hope, joy, and help in their lives.

WE CAN BE INCLUDED

Mary was happy because many would be happy or blessed by the Messiah. We can be included in that group that Mary saw as being blessed by the Messiah.

Many of us have also heard God speak to us. He has spoken to us through the Bible, through pastors, through teachers, through angels, through Jesus. Many of us here today have followed Mary’s example and said “Yes” to the Lord. We have accepted God’s words to us. We trust that God loves us as his child, that he will care for us, that he will guide us, and use us in his service. We view ourselves as God’s servants. As we worship and follow God we are blessed. We have joy.

You also can accept God’s love and become his child. Today he is asking you to accept him. You must give up trying to be happy or trying to find joy. When you trust God, worship God, and begin to do what God wants, you begin to realize that you are blessed and have joy. God will be your comfort, strength, and joy.

I will be glad to talk with you concerning becoming a believer and following Jesus, becoming a member of University Baptist Church, or any other decision that you think God is leading you to make. You may call or make an appointment at any time.