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Jack Graham - Have Yourself a Mary Christmas

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    Jack Graham - Have Yourself a Mary Christmas
TOPICS: Songs for the Savior, Christmas

Now I love songs. I love music. And don't judge me when I tell you that I start listening to Christmas music November 1. As far as I'm concerned it's all year long, Christmas in our hearts. And so I save it as long as I can. I get to November 1, so I've been rolling it on my phone, my iPad, my car, the house. And these songs are great. I listen to everything from Bing to Buble to the Bible. One of the songs that I like is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. So I got my title "Have Yourself a Mary Christmas", M-A-R-Y. In fact, it is because of Mary's Christmas that we can have a Merry Christmas.

When we say Merry Christmas it is because we are filled with happiness. The joy that Mary, the mother of Jesus experienced when she first sang this great song of the incarnation. Let's look at it, beginning in verse 46, "Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord'", this is known as the Magnificat, the Latin word Magnificat which means magnified, or exalt the Lord; make Him large, "'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. 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; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.'"

This song spans the centuries and the generations. It includes Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas future. It's all about Mary's Christmas, and the joy, the jubilation, the celebration and adoration, the wonder and worship that came from the heart of this young girl who was to become the mother of the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

So let's think first of all about the singer of this Magnificat, the singer of this song. Because a Merry Christmas is not possible without Mary. Besides Jesus Himself, the Babe of Bethlehem, humanities Hope, no one commands more attention in the Christmas story than Mary, the mother of the Lord. Not Joseph, you barely know anything about Joseph, other than that he was a carpenter and he supported his wife Mary and the birth of the Savior. Not the shepherds who watched over their flocks by night; not the wise men who brought gifts from afar; not even the angelic host who worshiped the Lord in the skies. No one commands more attention or respect in the story of Jesus than Mary herself. Her faith, her love, her hope, her obedience brought joy, brought Jesus into the world.

Now remember, Mary was a poor and pregnant teenager. She was a small town girl from a town in the middle of nowhere in the Galilee. It was a wild town, a little bit like the wild west was Nazareth. Roman soldiers occupied it. It was known for its ungodliness. It was kind of a funky town, the town of Nazareth. And it was there that this ordinary girl who would have lived an ordinary life like all the girls before her and after her in that town, who would have grown up, married a blue collar worker like Joseph, lived the rest of her life, probably dying young as most people did in that generation, and we would have never heard of her. And yet God did something extraordinary when an ordinary girl, a nobody living in a nowhere town named Nazareth. She gave birth to the One who would bring salvation to all!

Before the Savior would carry the cross, Mary would carry the Savior. Mary was the first one to carry the Gospel. The Child's mission to save was the mission of Mary to deliver the Savior, and the message of salvation to the world. Therefore, Mary was merry. Mary was happy. And though, no doubt, there were fears that she faced and uncertainties and potential shame and embarrassment because she was not yet married to Joseph, betrothed, engaged to him, which was a binding, legal contract, but she had never known a man physically, and yet now she is pregnant. Who would believe this story? Who would tell her parents? What would people say? And yet we see nothing of that really in this text unless you somehow read between the lines. We see only the faith and the devotion and the adoration of Mary. What a girl!

Stu Epperson writes this about Mary: "She fed the One who would feed the five thousand. He who floated safely in her belly would one day walk on stormy waters. She dressed the One who would clothe her in righteousness. She bundle His tiny hands and feet long before they were pierced with nails of iron. She cuddle His tender side years before it would be thrust through with a Roman spear. Before the whip, the strikes and the blows, His teeny smooth back she caressed". Christmas was more real to Mary than it was for any other human. "One day she would stand at the foot of the cross knowing He hung there to make them eternally merry".

This is Mary's Christmas, and Mary gave us this song for the Savior. Mary gave us this great song of praise. "My soul does magnify the Lord". Note how personal this is. My soul, my spirit rejoices. Clearly this young Hebrew teenager possessed a great devotion to God. She is exalting Him, and extolling Him; His greatness, His glory. Her words, "My soul doth magnify the Lord" reminds me of a psalm of David, Psalm 34 and verse 3, "O magnify the Lord with me. Come, let us exalt His name together". Let's say that: "O magnify the Lord with me. Come, let us exalt His name together". This is what Mary did personally. What we must do as well. Mary is a model for what and how we should celebrate Jesus. She reminds us as a nobody who did something extraordinary, that all of us are nobodies, telling everybody about a Somebody who can save anybody.

That's Mary! That's Mary's Christmas. Remember what happened. An angel of the Lord appeared to Mary and gave her the news, that she would be the Savior, that she a virgin would conceive in her womb. When she asked "How can these things be? I've never had physical relationships with a man", the angel said, "With God all things are possible". And thus the impossible became possible because of the power and the presence of God who overshadowed Mary. This is supernatural. And may I say, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, the virgin conception and birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is a non-negotiable in the Christian faith. Mary believed that God would and did the impossible, and responded with humble acceptance even though much of it didn't make sense. We always need to remember that just because doesn't make sense to us, it doesn't mean that it doesn't make sense to God! God who does the impossible.

So she did what we should all do when we face fears or uncertainties or turbulence in our lives, or we have questions that we can't answer, and we all have those kinds of questions that we can't answer, but we should do what Mary did in chapter one, verse 38 when Mary said, "Be it unto me according to your will". Just as you said! "Lord, be it unto me according to Your word and according to Your will". Have you said that? Have you said, "Lord, be it unto me according to Your word, Your will, Your way, Your word in my life". Corrie ten Boom, the great Christian, said, "Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God"! Mary gave herself unconditionally to the Lord body, soul and spirit.

In Luke 1:38 she submitted her body to the Lord. "Be it unto me according to Your word". In chapter one, the first verse and the first stanza she said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord". And then she said, "My spirit rejoices". Body, soul and spirit she committed and consecrated to the Lord. She took a trip of 100 miles, after she received the news, to speak with her cousin, Elizabeth, perhaps even an aunt. We don't know if Elizabeth was actually a cousin or an aunt, but an family member. And she needed some confirmation, and she got confirmation when she met with Elizabeth. And all along the way, no doubt, Mary was treasuring these words in her heart, as the Scripture said. The Bible said she cherished these words and treasured these things in her heart, it meant that Mary was contemplating the riches of God's grace in her life.

And so she burst into praise and glorious exaltation of the God who saves. That's Mary the singer. But then think about the song. The music here, the melody, the lyrics is more than mere emotion. This isn't just an emotional outburst as you will note, because the words that are recorded here by divine inspiration are filled with the Scripture, filled with God's Word. In fact from Genesis to Isaiah to Habakkuk to Micah to Zachariah, from the prayer of Hannah who prayed that God would give her a child, we see echoes from the Old Testament and the Scriptures themselves here in the words of Mary. Some have questioned: How could Mary, have known these words? Some have even suggested that perhaps Mary would have been illiterate. And yet she gave us these words.

How is that possible? Well, number one, remember that all Scripture is breathed out by the Holy Spirit. All Scripture comes from God. So the scripture here is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that overshadowed her and birthed Jesus into her life is the same Spirit who birthed these words and this worship in her. But also, beyond the supernatural effect of these words is the spiritual impact of God's word on Mary's life. Mary, though young, was filled with God's word. She was saturated with the Spirit, and therefore, the Scripture. Mary had learned from her parents, from her family, in the synagogue. She had learned from her youth and in her youth God's Word. And so what we have here in this great song that she composed by divine inspiration are the thoughts of a devout Hebrew girl who knew her Bible and had meditated upon God's Word.

One of the best things that we can do for our teenagers, for our boys and girls is to train our children to magnify God by studying and singing the scriptures. By studying God's Word, and worshipping Him. When we know our Bibles the scriptures become the script of our lives. The Bible becomes the lyrics of our lives. Mary's song was also a Gospel song. She said, "My soul doth magnify God, my Savior". Mary would be aghast at the very idea that somehow she was a co-redemptress, or that she is somehow to be venerated as the mother or even worshiped as the mother of our Lord! Mary understood this fact: she needed a Savior like everybody else! God, my Savior! Mary needed the Lord. And God touched her life. He sovereignly chose her.

And the reason she can say from now on, in verse 48: "All generations will call me blessed", not because she in and of herself was blessed, but because God chose to bless her! She is blessed, not above all women, but among all women. She was blessed like all the rest of us can be blessed by the grace of God. God always exalts the humble. She says in verse 50: "He does great things through people who fear and honor Him". She speaks of humbling herself before the Lord. Those who humble themselves and honor Him. God does great things. You know what it means to fear the Lord? It is to honor Him, to please Him, with our obedience, to respect Him and reverence Him, to love Him from our knees upward, to bow down before Him and then from adoration and celebration to rise in obedience in occupation as we serve Him.

Mary was merry because she humbled herself before God and honored Him, because she enlarged the name of the Lord and the glory of the Lord. Mary knows that she is favored, not because she was great, but because God is great! And that's our faith! To worship God! And notice what she says about the Lord God. This is just the first stanza. She says He is mighty in power! Verses 45 and 51, "For He who is mighty has done great things for me". "He has shown the strength with His arm"! The same power that did the impossible in the virgin birth and conception is powerful to save. She sings of his tender mercy in verse 50. She speaks of His mercy. It's for all that fear Him. She speaks and sings of His perfect holiness, verse 49. "Holy is His name". Unique, righteous, distinct, totally separated from sin. God is holy. She reflects upon His steadfast faithfulness. That's verses 54 and 55 when she reviews the history of Israel and God's faithfulness in history. And God's faithfulness in our lives.

The point is that through it all Mary's Christmas is centered in God! Centered in Christ! Christmas is Christ! Now that should be obvious! But it's not so obvious these days! Because it's often not about Christ but our celebrations are so often about Christmas, about the party, about the decorations, about the shopping, about the gift, about the memory, about the family, about the get-togethers. It's about something else! Christmas is not about Christmas for the Christian. For the Christian Christmas is about Christ! That we are centered in Him. Center your Christmas on the celebration and the adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ! And like Mary, surrender your will to His word, and worship Him. He has shown us favor and He has given us faith to believe. He has loved us and lifted us. No wonder we praise Him!

Christmas is merry and joyful and happy when you know the Lord! He has looked and remembered us, verse 48, undeserving and unknown, the mighty One has done great things for us! Mary became a miracle, it's the miracle of God in the life of Mary. And the miracle of Jesus can happen to you and to me. The same grace that saved Mary and birthed the Son of God in her life is the same Savior who by His Spirit lives in us. Colossians 1:27, "Christ in you the hope of glory". That's Christmas! That His deity is reproduced in our humanity! His deity in our humanity! We, therefore, become miracles of God's grace. We, like Mary, unknown, unheralded, undeserving have received the gift of God! If that doesn't cause you to celebrate, frankly I don't know what's wrong with you. If you can't celebrate over that, what can you celebrate?

There's actually two stanzas in this song. The first one is very personal. It's Mary's song and testimony. The second stanza which is verses 51 to 55, just very quickly. This is global. It's national and international because Mary then looks beyond herself and to the world, and says the Savior who is coming, she speaks not just personally here but now prophetically. She's looking down through history and she's seeing what the Savior will do, that His mighty strong arm will scatter the proud, and upheaval and revolution will take place. "That He brings down the mighty from their thrones, and exalts those of humble estate"; "and he fills the hungry (verse 53) with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away". He is speaking of the mission of Christ to change the world. That Jesus was not just a local, regional Messiah figure, but a spiritual redeemer, revolutionary who turns the world upside down, whose life changes everything.

We mark history by before Christ and after Christ. Everything has changed because of the coming of Jesus. In His first advent there was political revolution, there was cultural change. You read history and you know the power and the influence and the impact of Jesus Christ on history. Like no other person in the history of the world. That's what Mary is worshipping, who she is worshipping. That's what she is singing about when she's speaking about the one who tears down thrones and puts others on those thrones. We've seen Christ do that in our own generation. God has promised to control history and He's done that already!

One day in the Second Coming of Christ, and Mary includes this as well, prophetically in the first advent cultural change took place, spiritual change and revolution has taken place in Christ, but when Christ comes in the Second Advent, when He comes again, the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and the Christ who came the first time to save is coming another time, a second time to subdue all things under His feet! And every despot and dictator and tyrant and terrorist will be thrown down! No king, no dictator, no power, no president, no one can stand against the greatness of our God! So when you think of Christmas, don't just think of the tiny little babe away in a manger, but also of our mighty warrior King! Our revolutionary Redeemer who turns the world upside down, and one day is coming again in great power and great glory. Again it is Mary's Christmas, the coming of the Savior to the world, that makes our Christmas merry. Amen?
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