ODJ: a song of hope

March 16, 2013 

READ: Luke 1:39-56 

You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said (v.45).

Fearful of its subversive text and implications, the Guatemalan government of the 1980s banned the public reading or singing from Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:47-55). It’s the poetic hymn Mary sang after the angel had announced that she would give birth to a baby from God. One might wonder how a tender song from sweet Mary about a little baby could possibly be a threat to powers of any political regime. We typically hear this text in beautiful choral arrangements during Christmas holidays, and the whole affair seems quite docile. We need to hear it again.

When Mary sang this song, Herod sat on the throne. Herod was a vile ruler who had murdered his own children to stay in power and who had taxed the destitute and poor in order to build grand edifices. Soon, after learning that a rival King had been born, Herod would murder the male babies in every Israelite family “in and around Bethlehem” (Matthew 2:16) in order to squash Him. If that were not enough, above Herod sat the Roman emperor ruling with an iron fist.

Picture being an Israelite under the despot Herod’s rule and you will hear Mary sing of one coming from God who has a “mighty arm” and one who “has scattered the proud and haughty ones” (Luke 1:51). Mary has your attention. Then she sings stunning words, describing the one who “has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble” (v.52). With these words, your hopes resurface. God’s promises, given long ago by the prophets, are not forgotten. God will bring justice. No wonder Herod had the baby boys murdered.

Mary’s song offers an anthem for every oppressed generation: God will overcome. —Winn Collier

Read Isaiah 11:1-9, one of the Old Testament’s most famous prophecies. This text stood as a backdrop to Mary’s song. Where do you see similar themes?
How does Mary’s song give you hope? Where in your life do you need to sing (and believe) her song?