Points Covered: The right response to Christmas based on the characters around the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ primarily focusing on Mary’s song. Exegesis of Mary’s song.
Well we have come to the season that celebrates the birth of Jesus around the world. Different cultures have attached a lot of traditional surrounding the birth of Jesus. Most of the time, we end up doing everything and forget the real essence of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. So what does the Christmas season call us to do? What are we supposed to do because Christ is born?
For the world the Christmas is a lot of things. To the liquor industry, the Christmas spirit comes in a bottle. For some the call of Christmas is to decorate their homes and send greeting cards to their friends. For some Christmas is all about new dress, cakes, partying, and outing. Yet for some Christmas is grief from the loss of a loved one, the pain of sickness, and burdens of life.
But what should be the true response to Christmas Well, I intent to read some selected reactions to the birth of Christ that can show us how the people around Jesus responded to his birth.
Luke 1:41-43 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? That was Elizabeth’s reaction – Filled with the Holy Spirit.
Let’s look at the husband of Elizabeth, the father of John the Baptist. Luke 1:67-69 67His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 68“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. Zachariah’s reaction tells us something of his spirit, his attitude.
Look at the angels. Luke 2:13-14 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” The angels were praising God.
Look at the shepherd’s response: Luke 2:20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
In Luke 2, we meet another individual attending to the period of the birth of Christ named Simeon. Luke 2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. Notice how many of these people have an usually described relationship to the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth, Zachariah, the angel, the child in the womb of Elizabeth, Mary, and now Simeon.
Luke 2:26-28 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God.
Another reaction comes down in Luke 2:36-38 36There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Elizabeth, Zachariah, angels, shepherds, Simeon, Anna, basically had one response. And that one response to the birth of Christ is worship; praise, thanks, blessing and glory to God or worship.
Now turn back to Matthew 2:2 Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Look what Herod spoke about Jesus in his wickedness. Mathew 2:8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” Herod knew about worship, but he used the word for wicked intentions.
Everybody was worshiping. That is the call of Christmas. That is why Jesus came into this world. Worship is an attitude of the heart that is so filled with gratitude for what God has done that there is not a thought of self, but not matter what we praise God in adoration.
Now, to give form to our worship, I want to show you another person, a person very close to Jesus. That person is one other than his mother, Mary.
Mary’s song gives the most magnificent psalm of worship when she conceived Jesus. Mary’s Song: Luke 1:46-55 46And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. 50His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
When Mary knew that she was to be the mother of the Son of God she burst into worship. She had been told that in Luke 1:35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
She had been told that this offspring would be great: Luke 2:32-33 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end. Elizabeth even called Mary “the mother of my Lord.” Luke 1:43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? So Mary knew that Jesus in her womb is God and she bursts forth in the only appropriate response, and that is worship.
Now people respect Mary, yes she is a wonderful woman. She bore Jesus who was God incarnate. Unfortunately, many have perverted that reality into developing the worship of Mary.
Some theologians believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. It doesn’t mean that she immaculately conceived Jesus Christ. It means that Mary was immaculately conceived by her mother, thus making Mary free from original sin. The Immaculate Conception has not to do with the birth of Christ. It has to do with the birth of Mary which is wrong.
Some others believe the sinlessness of Mary, that she lived her entire life and never sinned. Mary is a sinner like any other person. She is born in sin and she needed a savior.
The third doctrine is the perpetual virginity of Mary, that is that she never knew a man all her life long. After Jesus was born Mary had other children through Joseph. Matthew 13:55-56 55Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56Aren’t all his sisters with us?
Then there is another wrong theology called the assumption of Mary, that Mary bodily ascended into heaven and when she ascended into heaven, she was coronated as the queen of heaven. John 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
Now all of that presents a convoluted and perverse picture of Mary. When we study Mary’s song, Mary’s worship, she is the worshiper. Mary is not the worshipped, Mary is the worshiper.
In this message, I just want us to look at the elements that are in this psalm that speak of the significance and the meaning of worship. Here is a worshipper. Here is a Christmas. Here is Mary and she teaches us how we are to worship.
I. The attitude of worship from Mary’s song.
Luke 1:46-47 46And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
Here we find the attitude of true worship based on the exegesis of Mary’s song.
1. Worship is internal.
Luke 1:46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord. The soul speaks of the inner person. She is simply summing her whole inner being. She is saying that worship rises from inside. Luke 1:47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Worship is internal.
External shallow observance of the birth of Christ is distasteful to God and most of what goes on at the Christmas breaks his heart. Superficial worship finds no place of acceptance with him.
Isaiah 29:13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. If I can put it in the present tense, they talk about me, they put things about me on their Christmas cards and they sing my carols, but they do not honor me. Their hearts are far from me.
Jesus said, God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The true worshipper is the one whose heart is devoted, the one whose heart is overflowing. It comes from deep down inside and it therefore goes on all the time. Let me close for now. I will be continuing this sermon next week.
Conclusion: What is the attitude then of worship based on Mary’s song? Worship is an attitude that comes from within, form the inside and it intensifies to the outside, not based on your circumstances or times but and deep sense of gratitude and joy because Christ, the eternal God is your God. That’s worship and that’s the spirit of Christmas. This season no matter what we do let us not forget the call of Christmas – Worship God. Amen. Let’s Pray