God loves to undertake for the underdog who calls on his mercy


From Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1-

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;

John Piper, in a Sunday Evening Message, “Meditation on the Magnificat”:

In the second half of verse 49 Mary makes the general statement that God’s name is holy. That is, God’s nature, his essence is holiness. He is completely free from sin, and his ways are not our ways. He is separate from and exalted above the creature. All his attributes are perfect, and they all cohere in a perfect harmony called holiness. But what Mary stresses is the way this holiness expresses itself. And her words are a warning to Theophilus and to us not to make the common mistake that because God is great, he is partial to great men, or because God is exalted, he favors what is exalted among men. Just the opposite is the case. God’s holiness has expressed itself and will express itself by exalting the lowly and abasing the haughty.

What fills Mary’s heart with joy is that God loves to undertake for the underdog who calls on his mercy. She mentions this three times: verse 50, “He has mercy on those who fear him”; verse 52, “He has exalted those of low degree”;verse 53, “He has filled the hungry with good things.” That’s one side of God’s holiness. The other side is that God opposes and abases the haughty. Mary mentions this three times also: verse 51, “He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts”; verse 52, “He has put down the mighty from their thrones”; verse 53, “The rich he has sent away empty.”

It is clear from Mary’s words (and from the whole Bible) that God is not partial to the rich, the powerful, or the proud. How could God be partial to the things which in our world are, more often than not, substitutes for God rather than pointers to God? Vast numbers of people have perished because they were enamored by pride, power, and wealth. And probably Theophilus, as a ranking Roman official, has all three. So Mary’s Magnificat is not just recorded out of pure antiquarian interest. There is a word of warning and of salvation here. Theophilus, look at what God is really like. He is not the least impressed by any of your pride, power, or opulence. He has mercy on those who fear him, who humble themselves and turn from the ego boosting accumulation of wealth to the lowliness of self-denial for the sake of others. This is the way God is, Theophilus. This is how his holiness expresses itself. Does this not commend itself as true, that the great and holy God should magnify his greatness by blessing the lowly who admire his greatness and by abasing the haughty who resent his greatness?

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