Sermon: “My Soul Magnifies the Lord” (Luke 1:39–56)
When Gabriel announced that Mary was about to conceive and bear a son, Gabriel insisted that this child will eventually become a king: “And the Lord God will give to 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” (Luke 1:32b–33). Within the overall remarkable nature of this announcement that a virgin will conceive and bear a child, we may miss the equally remarkable reversal of power in this promise. In that story, God’s messenger promised a powerless, teenage girl from insignificant Nazareth that her son would eventually become the heir to the throne of David, king over the whole house of Jacob, and eternal ruler over an endless kingdom.
Only with this point in mind can we understand the reactions of Elizabeth and Mary in Luke 1:39–56. Elizabeth rejoices that her Lord has come to visit her in utero, and Mary rejoices that God has overturned, and will continue to overturn, worldly power structures in human kingdoms. The advent of Jesus into the world signals more than a head start on a family for Mary and Joseph. The birth of this baby will mark the dawn of a new age that will be characterized by a new empire. In this passage, we see that God sent Jesus into this world to overturn the kingdoms of this world.