“Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.’ And Mary said:
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
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 seed forever.’”
What Relationship Is There between Mary and Jesus’ Birth?
The angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary and spoke to her six months after Elizabeth had conceived John the Baptist. Just before today’s Scripture passage, it is written, “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:26-38).
By this time it had been six months since Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist in her womb. Mary believed in the Word of God, but she especially obtained courage, believed, and accepted that Word because she heard that her relative Elizabeth, who was called barren, conceived a child by the power of God. When Mary heard that it had already been six months since Elizabeth conceived, she confessed, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
The angel told Mary, “A Son will be born to you. You are a blessed woman. The Son that will come forth from you will be called the Son of the Highest.” That means that the Son of God was born from Mary’s body. Hearing this, Mary considered by human logic that it was something that could never happen, so she refuted it. Then, the angel Gabriel said, “Your relative Elizabeth was known to be barren, but when the Lord spoke to her, she has come to have a baby. It’s already been six months. There is nothing lacking in the Word of God and it will all turn out as it says. God has promised to work through your body.” Mary accepted that Word. She said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). She confessed that if it was God’s will that she would believe it surely would happen. The angel then departed and Mary went to Zacharias’ house.
The account continues: “And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:41-45). Elizabeth said this to Mary.
Mary had heard the Word of God a little while before through the angel Gabriel and confessed, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38), and soon she went to visit Elizabeth. The baby in Elizabeth’s womb knew that Mary had come and leapt for joy. Elizabeth spoke to Mary in a loud voice, saying, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:42-45). Mary had heard the Word through the angel that same day, and Elizabeth already knew what happened to Mary. God told her, also.
Elizabeth and Mary met each other. Elizabeth knew that our Lord would come to this earth through Mary and said that the woman who believes was blessed. She said, “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Blessed is she who believed” (Luke 1:43, 45). Elizabeth also knew that Mary had conceived Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father. So, she told Mary the Words inspired by the Holy Spirit.
My fellow believers, it is a natural principle for men and women to marry and have children. But Elizabeth knew that the Baby was conceived in Mary the moment Mary accepted the Word of God, saying, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Mary was engaged to Joseph who was of the House of David from the tribe of Judah. The House of David was of the tribe of Judah, therefore, so was Joseph. Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron from the tribe of Levi, as was her husband Zacharias who was a descendant of Aaron. Thus, the earth’s High Priest came through the descendant of Aaron and the King of kings was born through the Virgin Mary who was engaged to a man of the House of David.
Jesus came to this earth as the High Priest of Heaven, and not as that of the earth or by the statute of the earth. He saved us by being baptized to take all our sins, dying on the Cross, and being resurrected from the dead. This happened because God appointed it that way.
Mary was full of the Holy Spirit and prophesied like Elizabeth and Zacharias had. She prophesied in verses 46-55, saying, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. 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 seed forever.”
Mary praised the Lord, confessing her faith by saying, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). Elizabeth and Mary knew their lowliness before God and were therefore thankful that the Lord met them and used them.
The Bible Said That the Lord Scattered the Proud in the Imagination of Their Hearts
Jesus Christ was born on this earth through Mary, and the Bible said that He scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. In other words, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth as the Savior, showed His power, and scattered those who are proud in the imagination of their hearts. God scatters those who are proud before Him. He sends them to Sheol; that is, to hell. The Bible says He has put down the mighty from their thrones.
My fellow believers, who can be said to be mightier than the Lord? There is no one. There is no one in this world higher than the Lord. “He has exalted the lowly, filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty” (Luke 1:52-53). All these things happened in this world because the Lord came. He exalted the lowly, made them God’s children, but He scattered those who were proud in the imaginations of their hearts. He put down the mighty from their thrones by smashing them to pieces with an iron hammer; He filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
Alexander the Great was called a great king because he had done many great achievements. However, when he died, he said, “Even though I have taken possession of many countries and lived as the king of this empire, my time to die has come. Make holes in both sides of my coffin and place my arms through the holes, and show this to the people. I have possessed and taken this world so much that I have received the appellation of “the Great,” but I am dying with nothing.” So, it’s said that Alexander’s arms flopped around outside of the coffin when it was brought out at his funeral. He wanted to show to others that he who had conquered such a vast territory, was called great, and had enjoyed a lot of power left empty-handed when he died.
My fellow believers, all of these things are realized when the Lord came to this earth. If He had not come, the rich would remain rich, those who were proud in the imagination of their hearts would be proud even as they go to hell. The lowly would remain lowly, and those who hungered and thirsted would remain miserable forever. But the Lord came and rejected the proud, exalted the poor, and filled the hungry by His power. In other words, people who believe in the grace of salvation, that is the gospel of the remission of sins, receive these amazing blessings before the Lord. Only the Lord did these things. These events happened on this earth by Jesus Christ coming to this earth through Mary. The Lord did these things out of His own power.
Mary Said That the Lord Regarded the Lowly
Mary praised the Lord saying, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” It was the confession of her faith. My fellow believers, we have the same kind of faith as Mary. The confession of yours as well as mine is the same as Mary’s. Your souls and mine magnify the Lord, and your spirit and mine rejoice in Him. We rejoice because of Him. The Lord regarded our lowliness and made us into the children of God. You and I were really lowly people, but the Lord exalted us. Just as Mary acknowledged before the Lord that she was a lowly maidservant, every one of us who has met the Lord was by nature a lowly one.
We originally had no joy and we absolutely had no goal to live for. We had no answer for the question of what life is. We were such lowly people. We were lowly people who lived with no purpose and just lived because we were born, ate in order to live, and lived in order to eat. But the Lord blessed us by meeting us who were so lowly. The Bible said, “And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:49-50). This passage means that the Lord gave eternal salvation to those who acknowledge God and His Word, believe in and fear His Word, and accept it as it is. People are regarded with pity and saved by God from generation to generation if they are humble people who obey whatever is the Word of God without asking for reasons like Mary who said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). God saved those kinds of people.
Mary said, “He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones” (Luke 1:51-52). The Lord put down the proud before God. The rich and those who believe in the power of this world are put down and go to hell. The proud who, like men of power, only depend on the power of the world and do not obey God ultimately go to hell.
We must think about what it is that God has said. We must give ear to the Word of God and we must obey the Word when the Scriptures say so. The Lord says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and that a person will be judged and go to hell if they have sins. Those who acknowledge these Words will be saved before God. Romans 6:23 continues, “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We are people who truly cannot help but go to hell. But we believe in the fact that we come to be saved and obtain eternal life if we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and the Word of the Truth. We are saved if the Lord said that He saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of the Truth. We are saved if the Lord says He saved us, but we cannot be saved no matter how hard we try if He says He didn’t save us. My fellow believers, people who acknowledge God and His Word are saved out of His mercy, but those who do not acknowledge Him are put down from His grace.
Lowly People Have Been Saved by the Lord Coming to This Earth and Fulfilling God’s Righteousness
These things did not happen before the Lord came to this earth. The Lord made the proud be filled with their pride until they died; the rich remained rich until they died; the mighty enjoyed their power until they died; and the Lord made the powerful to sustain their power by handing it down to their descendants and made them wield their power generation to generation. The Lord came to this earth in such a context. He remitted all mankind’s sins and saved us from them. Therefore, those who wield power and the rich who are proud and powerful are now to be judged before the Lord. The Lord definitely judges them for their sins. But the pitiful are saved and the lowly are exalted.
I think about myself once in a while. There is a saying in Korea that goes, “A frog can’t remember when he was a tadpole.” But I look back upon my early Christian days as often as I can. A long time ago, I believed in Jesus but still had sins. I was a lowly person who was perplexed with the problem of sin in my heart.
My fellow believers, people who have sins in their hearts are truly lowly people. They are not the children of God and can’t get answers to their prayers. I was a miserable person, even according to the standards of the world. We didn’t have anything to eat because my parents had fallen into a cult and had given all their money to it. I was truly lowly.
After I was born again, my older sister died. So I met my nephews. They were also very lowly. But they didn’t know their lowliness. I was the same a long time ago. When I grew up, I tried to do something but had no money, no power, no backing, and was truly lowly. I am now bold because I believe in and seek after God’s righteousness after having met the Lord, but I myself am still lowly as before. People are fundamentally lowly. If the Lord did not exist and take care of us, we would be lowly forever because we are originally miserable beings.
Mary said she was a “lowly maidservant” to show her humility, but she also was really lowly one. At that time, Israel was a colony ruled by Rome. They sold their services to other houses in order to live and barely lived a hand-to-mouth existence. Theirs were lives that had no hope. My life was really lowly like that. No matter what I looked like or whether or not I had money, my heart was lowly. I looked at myself everyday and was weighed down because I had sins. I thought I should read books because it seemed that was what one must do if they didn’t know very much, but I didn’t have any money to buy books. So, I went to the local bookstore and read books whenever I had time. I used to read books all day and left the store when it got dark outside. It was OK at that time to stand reading books all day. I was lowly because of the sins in my heart even though I read books and studied hard.
I sometimes even bought books by saving my lunch money. Nowadays, I can buy lunch for someone else, but a long time ago I had to save my lunch money to buy books. I wanted to eat lunch but couldn’t. Restaurants for the rich and those for the poor were separate. The difference is night and day between the feelings of people who have money and go to a cheap restaurant and the feelings of those who cannot but go to a cheap restaurant. People are really miserable if they go to cheap restaurants because they have no money. It isn’t that they are miserable because of what they eat; everything is considered lowlier because their hearts are poor and lowly and they have absolutely no money. My thoughts were lowly at that time.
At that time, I wandered in confusion and emptiness because of my many thoughts. The Apostle Paul said, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). But I used to think over and over again whenever I couldn’t come to a conclusion. When I thought about the same problem over and over but couldn’t find the answer no matter how long I pondered on that issue, I felt like I was going to go crazy.
For example, a long time ago, I thought doctrinally about how I could have no sin. I thought, “I have sins in my heart now. Does God just close His eyes to my sins and then regard me as sinless blindly? Does it make sense for Him to do so?” I was really miserable a long time ago. I was poor, but that wasn’t why I was miserable; I was miserable because I had no answer about the problem of my sins.
Are people OK just because they eat and live well? Are they OK if they drive a nice car? People are existences that are fundamentally miserable. They have nothing. People who haven’t received the remission of sins live in vain and die without purpose. They die and go to hell after being born with sin, committing more sins, and not being able to receive the remission of those sins. So, they are lowly lives with no hope.
What did Mary say, pointing to herself? She said she was a maidservant. She said that the Lord exalted the lowly. She said that the Lord took her and made her into a child of God and that all generations would henceforth call her blessed. We think Mary is a blessed woman. But Mary is not a god. God made you and me into His children by exalting us, just as He made Mary His child. He truly exalted us.
The Lord Saved Lowly People
The Bible said, “He has filled the hungry with good things.” That is truly the case. We are full when we read the Word of God, when we preach it, and when we share fellowship with one another in His Word. We shouldn’t interpret this passage in physical terms only; the Lord is telling us the spiritual things first. Therefore, this means that He filled our souls with His righteousness. We have received the remission of sins because the Lord has made us know His righteousness and made us believe in it. My fellow believers, God did righteous works for us and we have been saved by knowing and believing in those things. That righteousness is in our hearts. We have held to it. We have become God’s children through it. We also know that we will go to the Lord’s Kingdom in the future. We have been filled with truly good things.
If we read Matthew 5, it says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). That means that people who yearn to do righteous works will come to do the righteous works to their hearts’ content after they believe in God’s righteousness which is the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
My fellow believers, God saved the Israelites, saved us, exalted and blessed Mary, and exalted and blessed us. You and I have been blessed just as Mary was when God sent an angel to her: We are blessed as she was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. But people who do not believe are cast off and destroyed instead of having these kinds of blessings. People who are proud before God; those who don’t believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit even though God speaks of it; those who are stiff-necked pointing to themselves with the thought that they are God’s people even though they have sins, and those who say that their faith is acknowledged by their respective denominations─all these people will go to hell.
The Bible states that Jesus Christ is the stumbling stone by the wayside. He said that people who meet Him and believe in His Word are saved, obtain eternal life, and receive all blessings. On the contrary, people are destroyed if they still don’t believe in Jesus’ Word, stand against it by the logic of man, and advocate their own thoughts even though they have seen Him in His Word. Those kinds of people are judged by Jesus Christ and are eternally cursed. So, Jesus Christ becomes some people’s Savior, but some people are destroyed after coming across Him. If a person believes in Jesus but doesn’t know Him correctly, they are completely ruined, cursed, and go to hell. They are completely ruined even in this world.
My fellow believers, we are all truly thankful to God. Just as Mary confessed that God had come to her and eliminated all her sins by the Word of the Lord, I believe that the same thing will happen to us who are lowly, according to the Word of the Lord to which nothing is impossible. We obtain salvation by faith in those Words with which the Lord saved us. After we met the Lord and obtained salvation, we came to be able to make confessions of faith just like Mary’s. We magnify the Lord forever and our spirits have come to rejoice in our Lord and Savior.
My fellow believers, don’t you rejoice when you think of our Lord? Just as the Lord said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), the Word of God is the best and people who partake of it will enjoy eternal life. I am very thankful to God.
This Christmas, I Think of the Way I Was Before
It was Christmas Eve, and I had returned home from school and gone to sleep because I was tired. But all the saints gathered at church were worshipping and went Christmas caroling during the night. I can’t explain how ashamed I was when I found out I had been sleeping when they were doing so. What was worse was my gloomy heart on that Christmas Eve. Even though I had believed in Jesus Christ for a long time, I thought His coming to this earth had nothing to do with me and didn’t really rejoice in it. If I looked at my heart at that time, I thought it was good that the Lord had come but that it really had nothing to do with me. I felt very ashamed later when I took a look at my heart.
What is it like now? My heart truly rejoices because of my Savior. I rejoice in the fact that He came even if I don’t know what time of the year is truly His birthday. My fellow believers, my heart rejoices whenever I think of the Lord’s coming to this earth; whenever I think of His being baptized by John the Baptist; and whenever I think of Him being nailed to the Cross, shedding His blood, and dying. It rejoices because those things are relevant to me. Before I was born again, I felt sympathy for the Lord saying, “How much pain did He suffer?” whenever I thought of Him. But I now rejoice in Him who has saved me. Our hearts rejoice just as Mary when she said, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47).
The Lord was planning and preparing mankind’s salvation before He came to this earth. He prepared Zacharias and Elizabeth in the House of Aaron before He actually came. Elizabeth was advanced in years, but she conceived John the Baptist by the power of the Word of the Lord. The angel said of John the Baptist, “He will be great and will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God” (Luke 1:15-16). The Lord prepared John the Baptist and had him born on this earth. He also prepared Mary, spoke to her, and fulfilled all things by His Word.
God said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), and there was light. The Word that God spoke all comes to pass because it is His Word. Because the Word of God has power, when He said, “Let the fruit tree yield fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself” (Genesis 1:11), those trees are growing even now and yielding fruit whose seed is in itself. God created the universe by His Word, made promises by His Word, came to this earth in the flesh of man and fulfilled all His will as He promised, He speaks to you and me by having recorded the Word that He fulfilled and will fulfill. God saves people through this Word.
He sent an angel to Zacharias and Elizabeth, had that angel speak to them as it is recorded in God’s Word, and saved those who believe according to the Word. So, God is the God of the Word. He planned, prepared, and fulfilled our salvation and met us. I truly give thanks to the Lord. The Lord who is the King of kings prepared John the Baptist, Mary, and Joseph in order to save us. He prepared them all and fulfilled our salvation in His time.
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah: “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14). God promised that He would put on the flesh of man and be born through the body of a virgin. When the time came, He came as your and my Savior as He promised. He became our Savior by taking all our sins through His baptism, being nailed to and hanging on the Cross, shedding His blood, and dying. The Lord is alive even now. He lives eternally. He dwells with us with His Word by the Holy Spirit. I give thanks to God.
My fellow believers, the thing that we must definitely know and meditate on this Christmas is the fact that God prepared a lot of people before He sent Jesus Christ to this earth. We must know this and give thanks to God.