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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

12/8/10 Luke 1:50-53 Reverse of Fortunes

50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

Mariotto Albertinelli (1503)

Thoughts: The mercy of God is not just for a time, but permanent. God is not just God of the past.  It is easy for us to forget the 350 year span between Malachi and Mary/Elizabeth.  While there was the miracle that is celebrated at Hanukkah, there was no deep prophecy written for centuries.  The promise for a messiah was centuries old and miracles were few and far between. But Mary is remembering God's mercy is for today for all who fear Him in every generation and time.  So today, many think God is God of the past but not the present or the future.  It takes faith like Mary's, Elizabeth's, Anna's, and Simeon's to be a remnant in a declining culture-believing that God remembers and is able to change things.  But this "remnant faith" changed the world. Elizabeth's husband's name, "Zechariah" means "God has remembered"- and He does!
     Here Mary celebrates that God not only remembers people of every generation, but also remembers the powerless and humble who put their faith in Him. This is a revolutionary statement.  God is not impressed or only concerned about the wealthy and powerful, but all people.  James (4:10) and 1 Peter (1 Pt 5:6) say, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up."  Here, at the beginning of the Gospel, a specifically Christian virtue, humility, is elevated.  Jesus said the last shall be first, and so it was and is.  But it is not simply that God remembers the poor- but the His mercy is for the poor who put their trust in Him.  This is a great remembrance, and a great reversal of fortune.

Prayer: As Mary humbled herself, help me to humble myself in your presence.  Help me to trust in your ability to lift me up in my time of need. Have mercy on those who are humbled today, Lord- those without heat or shelter; those with little food or hope. 

John Calvin Abridged:  God's power to help is contrasted to those who will not or cannot help (Isa. 59:16).  God scatters the proud as He did at the Tower of Babel when they overreach in their covetousness.  Mary ascribes to God's power what the ungodly ascribe to Fortune.  Yet God does not toss us up and down without purpose as if we were balls being thrown in the air.  It is not that God simply delights in changes in power, but that there is a purpose in his elevating some to a position of recognition (Dan. 2:21; Ps. 107:39).  Those who are in a high position, need to remember the One who allows them to be there.  It is too easy for the great, power, and well-fed, to ascribe all their power to themselves and not to God.

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