As we make our journey towards Christmas Day and continue to celebrate the hope of Christ, imagine Mary and what she experienced as she learned of the incarnation. Imagine Mary growing up and having parents who would’ve taught her about the writings of Moses and the creation account. She heard the great story of Exodus and how God saved his people. She would’ve heard Isaiah’s message of hope and salvation in the coming of the Messiah. Then, suddenly, in the midst of her betrothal to Joseph, the unthinkable happened. She received a visit from Gabriel the angel who delivered a shocking message of good news.
Soon thereafter, Mary visited with Elizabeth who praised God and explained to Mary that she was blessed among women. Mary’s heart was filled with joy, and she sang a song to God. In this song (often called “The Magnificat”) that’s recorded in Luke 1:46-55, we learn some important truths that must be considered every Christmas season.
The Birth of Jesus Is About Salvation
Mary cried out to God in joyful exultation calling him “God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). Before we can fully and truly celebrate Christmas, we must acknowledge the fact that we need salvation that comes from our God through Christ Jesus.
Mary always knew and had been taught to believe that the Messiah would come, and now she understood that he had come—in her womb. What an unlikely story to say the least, but that’s often the way God moves, as William Cowper stated in his hymn, “in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.”
Without the knowledge of our need for salvation, Christmas is dark and empty. Until we acknowledge our need to be rescued, Christmas is nothing more than a vain and selfish day where depraved sinners exchange empty materialism.
The Birth of Jesus Is About Hope
As Mary’s song continued, she praised God for his mighty work. She addressed key events in Israel’s history and how God had come to his people and delivered them as he put on display his sovereign power.
Pick up in the song after Mary’s statement about God being her Savior in Luke 1:49–55:
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” (ESV)
This song of hope was the message of God’s gospel that had been proclaimed throughout the Old Testament. Now, it was Mary who was proclaiming it in song—a song of worship and hope. In her song, she points to the hope of Israel and all of Abraham’s offspring. That would include the Gentiles who would believe. We see this grand reality in Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia as he writes:
Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith (Galatians 3:6–9).
May it be said of us all that we celebrate the real meaning of Christmas during this Advent season. Jesus was born in order to save his people, both Jew and Gentile, from their sin. That’s why Mary referred to God as her Savior. What about you?