Fourth Sunday in Advent [c] December 19, 2021
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” 46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” 56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
In the Name of Jesus.
“From now on,” says Mary, “all generations will call me blessed.”
And so we do. We call Mary most blessed among women.
St. Mary’s Church in Wittenberg, Germany, Martin Luther himself preached there, it was in his hometown, and St. Mary’s Church still stands today, cradle of the Reformation of the Church. Her name is remembered.
Martin Luther himself wrote a beautiful exposition on Mary’s Magnificat, which is the biblical text we have this morning, an exposition over sixty pages long. Her words are remembered.
In your hymnal you can find over seven pieces of music based on Mary’s Magnificat, including the Magnificat in the Vespers service, one in Evening Prayer, and several Magnificat hymns toward the back of your hymnal.
The Church has sung her words for, as Mary says, all generations.
She is blessed among women.
Women are blessed by God to be the bearers of life. Such that Eve, the first mother, her name meant living or giving life. Women are blessed by God to be the bearers of life, for a man alone can bring forth no life, so that God says for the man to be alone is not good. [Genesis 2:18]
He’s the God of life. Life is what is good, and he blessed women to be its bearer.
Sin was brought in. And now life comes at a price. Only by the sweat of your brow will you eat, the Lord says to Adam. [Genesis 3:19]
With sin now belonging to Adam and Eve and their lineage, life now comes at a price. All the children of Adam will now see death. Eve bears children only in much pain, some of Eve’s daughters cannot bear. Some parents bring not life and its gifts to their children, but tyranny and sometimes even worse.
But the promise—the promise from the God of life that from Eve’s lineage the Savior would come, the promise that all sin is forgiven by virtue of that Savior, the promise that all the children of Adam who belong to the sentence of death would be redeemed by the blood of Eve’s greater Son, the promise that the curse would be removed, and for those born of flesh, they would hear the word of blessing—the promise will be given from Eve’s lineage.
Eve, blessed by God to be the bearer of life. Found in her sin, then, Eve, blessed by God to bear the lineage by which God would bring forth his Own Son, born in human flesh to redeem all humans with his own blood.
Eve, blessed by God. And now, generations later, Mary, the greater daughter of Eve’s lineage. A simple woman, one among many, lowly and of humble estate—Mary, taken up by the Lord to be his servant, given child by the Lord, that Mary’s son would, with his own blood, redeem all those born in the generations of Eve. So Mary says,
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on 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 for those who fear him from generation to generation.
Mary calls this child she bears in her womb, “God my Savior.”
He is true God, of the same substance as the Father and the Holy Spirit. True God, now come in the flesh as true man.
He is true God and true Man, not by conversion of the divinity into human flesh, but by assumption of the humanity into God.
He is God and Man in such a way, then, that all which he does in the flesh, the suffering, the humiliation, the death on the cross, the resurrection of the body on the third day—everything he does in the flesh, he takes up into the divinity, so that he, Jesus, true Man, is to be known as God who has suffered and died for every sinner. Because the One of the cross is true God, his death and resurrection pertain to all sinners of every generation. For he is eternal.
So Mary calls this child in her womb, “God my Savior.”
That she needs a Savior is Mary’s confession that she is of sinful flesh, like all children of the lineage of Adam, and is in need of salvation.
That this child in her womb is her Savior is Mary’s confession that this is the One to give the sacrifice to atone for the sin of Mary and of the world.
That this child is true God is Mary’s confession that this One she bears in her womb is conceived in her not by flesh, nor by the will of man, but by God the Holy Spirit, giving her to bear this child though she is a Virgin.
Her child is our Savior, too. Savior from sin. For we, along with Mary, are born of the lineage of Adam, and are in sinful flesh.
Not sinful because we sin. Rather, we sin because we’re sinful.
A snake is not a snake because he strikes. Rather, he strikes because he’s is a snake. The problem is not that a snake strikes, but that he is a snake, so he does what a snake does. He strikes because he’s a snake, that’s who he is.
A sinner is not a sinner because he sins, rather, he sins because he is a sinner. That’s who he is.
Our problem at the face of God is not that we sin. It is that we are sinful from our very origin, and as sinners, we sin.
Because we are of sinful flesh, we stand before God in need of a Savior. For no sinner saves himself. No sinner makes himself to be other than what he is.
We need a Savior. Mary’s child is our Savior.
He takes care of our sin not by telling us how to be not sinners, but by forgiving our sin. Forgiving the sins we have committed, forgiving the sins we will commit, and much more, forgiving us of our sinful flesh, of who we are. He took all that upon himself, the sin of every generation.
The generation of Adam and Eve—he took that sin upon himself. The sin of those who insulted him and spit on him and said, Crucify him, crucify him—he took that sin upon himself. The sin of you and me and our children—he took all that sin upon himself.
He crucified it all on the cross. His blood atones for our sin. The sins we have committed, and, much more, our sinful flesh. Our guilt covered in righteous blood. Our consciences cleansed. So that, along with Mary, we call him, “God my Savior.”
Now all generations call Mary blessed. For she was God’s instrument, his chosen vessel, to bear God the Son into the flesh. So that, as the Church confesses Jesus as true God, we confess Mary the Mother of God.
She was, in the ways of this world, unremarkable. Of humble estate, to use her words. A servant. But God took her up into his use and gave her to be the vessel of the Most High God coming in the flesh.
All generations, including our own, call her blessed. For when we look upon her Son, we see God our Savior.
In the Name of Jesus.