Michael Youssef - The Magnificat
Everything I'm gonna tell you today from the Word of God runs to the extreme opposite of everything that is taught in secular education and in the secular media. "Well," you say, "what's new about that"? Well, you'll see in a minute. Today, particularly our young people, they treat celebrities with awe. They treat them as gods and goddesses, and they call them idols. The secular media celebrates their blatant immorality, arrogance, and narcissism.
Here's a lesson that we must teach the next generation by modeling it for them. We need to emphasize that celebrities are here today and gone tomorrow. But those who exhibit a truly godly, good, healthy, biblical self-esteem will live forever. That's the difference. More than 2000 years ago, a young teenager in Nazareth, that is a town that has bad reputation, the worst in all of Israel, she exhibited a true balanced, healthy self-esteem and we talk about her today. Her memory lives on to this day. Someone said that no one can make you feel inferior without your acquiescing. This is far from feeling inferior.
his young teenager had the whole world working against her but because of her truly sound, healthy self-esteem, she stood against the whole world. When you begin to comprehend the words of the Magnificat, it's a Latin word. When you begin to comprehend the circumstances that surrounding this prayer of praise by the Virgin Mary, when you begin to comprehend the unbelievable incongruity between the deadly circumstances which she was facing and the courage that she exhibited, you will begin to develop a truly humble, biblical self-esteem.
No wonder she said, "From this day on, all generations will call me blessed". And here we are, more than 2000 years after the fact, she is proven right. I'm gonna ask you in a moment to stand, after you find this wonderful, magnificent song of prayer: Luke 1:46 to 55. Will you please stand? "And Mary said: 'My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.'" Go.
For he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me: holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.
Father, I publicly confess my bankruptcy in my inability to comprehend, let alone explain these magnificent words from your Scripture. But I anchor my hope in the promise that a broken and contrite heart you will not despise. Speak through me so that your people can only hear Jesus. In his name I pray, amen.
Be seated please. The Virgin Mary is a beautiful example of teenage femininity, of a teenage beauty, inner beauty, of a teenager spiritual commitment, of her character, personality, and strength. Now, I wanna tell you many of them probably do not know that I know this, but I watch our teenagers in this church. And I wanna tell you that I thank God for so many of them because I know many of them are committed to living for Christ in this dark times. Many who are often bold and courageous and they stand against the bullying of their peers and the anti-Christian school officials, they take a stand against the whole culture that seeks to break down their faith and their value.
And today I want to be an encouragement. I want to be encouragement to the teenagers, I wanna be encouragement to the parents and the grandparents, by looking at this young teenager, Mary, looking at her belief in the Word of God, looking at her passion for the fulfillment of God's promises. Mary's deep, abiding relationship with God, truly is a role model for all of us, young or old, that we can emulate. Because of that commitment, when she faced a crisis, I am talking about huge crisis that none of us would even comprehend, she faced it with confidence, she faced it with faith. And what a crisis it was. This was not just a bad hair day. This was not just wearing clothes that your peers do not approve of.
A young Virgin Mary lived in poverty at a time when only the rich and the powerful words that really mattered. She was unmarried and pregnant in a society where the law said she should be stoned to death. Young Mary was pure and never been with a man in a society where false accusations often run rampant. And yet, she fully trusted in the Word of God in the Scripture and in the Word that was delivered to her by an angel. She was fully committed to God's glory, regardless of the price, regardless of the cost, even her own life. Here is a fact that you will not hear in the secular schools or secular media. You will not hear this. It takes a truly, truly healthy, biblical self-esteem to be humble.
You see, people with broken self-esteem, they have a feeling of inferiority. They really do. They cannot afford to appear humble so they fake it. They want others to know how smart they are, how beautiful they are, how accomplished they are, how competent they are. They let their arrogance compensate for their feeling of inferiority and the lack of self-confidence. For only those who are secure in who they are and whose they are can afford to be truly humble. Can I get an "Amen"?
This young virgin understood that God honors the humble and he scattered the prideful. But before I get to the prayer of praise, the question that many people asking and will continue to ask in a time when everybody says, "Well," including preachers in pulpits, say, "All religions lead to the same place. All religious founders are equal and all religions are equal in value," and all of this stuff, the question is, why did Jesus have to be born or had to be born of a virgin? Because the Son of God could not, could not... can you say that with me, possibly be born of a natural, biological process. Listen to me. Had Jesus been conceived by an earthly father, he could not have saved us from our sins. Why? Because he would have been a sinner like us. But only the one who is born sinless and lived sinless can pay the price for our sin.
Don't miss what I'm gonna tell you, okay, because this is important. There is a miracle that takes place every time a person comes to Jesus Christ and says, "Lord, I am a sinner and I'm heading straight for hell but thank you for dying on the cross for me to pay the wages of my sins. I receive you as my Savior and Lord". Every time that happens, that's a miracle. That's a miracle. For in that miracle, we have all of the healthy self-esteem that we need to live in this dark world. We have all of the healthy self-esteem that we need to face the anti-Christian prejudice in our culture today, whether it be on our campus or marketplace or workplace or government, wherever it may be. And that's all of the self-esteem you need.
This prayer reminds us that we are favored by God. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, if you're walking with the Lord day by day, you are favored by God. This prayer of praise is truly a role model of a prayer for all Christian believers; believers who know that they are believers because they've been favored by whom? There's three things I wanna share with you very quickly. First and foremost, you notice, the highest priority is magnifying and glorifying the Lord. And you see that in verses 46 and 47. Mark them in your Bible.
Secondly, like Mary, we are to praise God for his grace, verses 48 to 53. Thirdly, like Mary, we need to thank God always and often and continuously for his faithfulness, verses 54 to 55. First of all, look at how the glory of the Lord is paramount in her mind in this prayer. Let me remind you again of her predicament because I know we gloss over these things when we read them and we even know a little bit of the history but we don't focus on it. You need to transport yourself to that time and that history, that part of the world, at that time. She was pregnant and she was unwed. The sweet, faithful, unmarried, godly virgin became an outcast of her community.
As soon as the town gossips noticed her baby bump, their tongues started wagging. If you grew up in a small town, you'll know a little bit of what I'm talking about. So when she says, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior," she was not rejoicing in her wonderful circumstances. She was not rejoicing in her close friends who were standing by her. She was not rejoicing in how pleased and excited her parents were about this pregnancy. Can you imagine the reaction of the culture at the time? Mary's soul glorified the Lord and she rejoiced in him because she has placed all of her trust in him. Her soul, her spirit, her emotions, her intellect, and even her body which is becoming hormonal by this time, all of her were bound up in praising and exalting and blessing the God who blessed her with this favor.
I know probably some of you, whether you're here in this place or watching around the world, and you just don't feel that you're favored by God. Now you really don't. And at least that's how you feel. You look at your circumstances, you look at your friendships and your relationships, and you look at your bank account and your bills. Even you look at your health, and you don't in particular feel blessed right now. Please, please, please, please, let me plead with you. Do not allow your negative circumstances to cloud your vision of God's favor toward you. Can I get a witness? Don't allow these temporary conditions to negatively impact your eternal relationship with God. And that is why you and I should be praising God in the triumph and in the predicament.
We should be praising God in the sunshine and in the shadow. We need to be praising God when our eyes are sparkling and when our eyes are glistening with tears. Why? If you're eternally saved, you are favored by God and that's enough. It's almost blasphemy to say that in America. Enough? We don't even know the meaning of the word. Enough? Yes, enough. Let me tell you something. I believe with all my heart, show me a person whose prayer life is focused on glorifying and magnifying the Lord and I'll show you a person who is contented and full of joy. Show me a person whose prayer life is consumed by bringing glory to God and I'll show you a person who's truly a happy person. Show me a person whose prayer life is focused on seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness first and I will show you a person who's truly satisfied.
Look at Mary again because if there's anyone, at least that I know in history, if there's one, anyone in the whole world who would have the right to be worried and anxious, be down in the dumps, would have been this pregnant, teenage young woman. Her life is on the line. Think about this. Her life is on the line. Her reputation has been tarnished. Her honor has been called to question and her future is in doubt. Now you think you've got problems? Hello? You've got problems? Oh, but her response to her circumstances shows us why God has chosen her from all the young women in Israel at the time to be the mother of the Messiah. The glory of God was paramount in her mind. Secondly, she praised God for his grace, his grace.
Verse 48: "For he for he has been mindful of humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed". That's it. "Will call me blessed". And here we see that she saw herself as a mere humble servant, a handmaiden of the Lord. Beloved, God always, always, always, always, always, always, always, how many always are this, favors the humble. And I'm not talking about the person who pretend to be humble. "Oh, I'm humble," you know, you know who I'm talking about. "Oh, I'm not worthy and I'm not worthy". I remember one day years ago, somebody, we ask him to serve in the ministry, he said, "Oh, I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy". I said, "Are you kidding? If we think you're worthy, we wouldn't have asked you".
As I read to you earlier, a person can be too big in his or her own eye to be used of the Lord. And here, Mary recognizes that even her courage, even her strength, in the face of this crushing circumstances, all by grace. Mary was continuously conscious of the grace of God, conscious of the favor of God, the mercy of God, and the gift of God. If you start thinking and praising God for his grace, you'll never say, "Oh, poor me". And so she kept her head lifted high and she walked with her head raised in spite of the whispering among the town gossips. Once Jesus, in describing his cousin John the Baptist, he said, "Among those born of a woman there is no greater than John the Baptist".
And when you think about this, this man did not look good, did not smell good, did not speak good, and yet Jesus said, "No greater". Why? He gives us the answer actually himself, John, in chapter 3 of Gospel of John, verse 30: "He must be greater; and I must be less". Beloved, the only greatness Mary had was in her true humility. Verses 51 and 52, she said, "He has performed mighty deeds with his own arms; he scattered those who are proud in their uttermost thoughts. He brought down rulers from their thrones and lifted up the humble".
You have to ask where are all the despots throughout history, from Nebuchadnezzar to Alexander the Great, Caesars, Hitler, Mussolini, all those who raised themselves to power and they thought were invincible, they're all dead and frying in hell. And yet, after more than 2000 years, this humble teenage virgin, she's still being emulated today. I discovered just recently there are at least 27 varieties or variation on the name Mary. Her faith, her virtue. I know you heard me say this: I always love the way God turns history on its head. At the height of the Roman Empire, Caesar was everything, the Apostle Paul was nothing. And today, we call our children Paul but our dogs Caesar. God gives grace to the humble and he humbles the proud.
The third thing we see in Mary's prayer of praise is that she praised God for his faithfulness. When was the last time you thanked God for his faithfulness? So he renewed his promise. I gave it to Abraham and he gave it to Isaac and he kept giving it to Jacob. With all of his troubles, God kept emphasizing and repeating that the Messiah will come through the line of Jacob. And 2000 years later after Jacob, it was almost 2000 years between Jacob and Mary, 2000 years after he renewed that promise many times, God's faithfulness to his promise is fulfilled in this humble teenage girl, the promise he made to Jacob. Even when God's people became so impatient and they become so rude to God. Read about it in the Old Testament. They blamed God for his unfaithfulness. Yet he kept his promises.
Beloved, listen to me. God will always keep his promises. Listen to what she said: "He filled the hungry with good things and he sent the rich empty away. He has helped his servant Jacob or Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised". Just as he promised. He promised to Abraham and Sarah that they're gonna have a son, even in their old age. Twenty-five years later, he delivered on that promise. He promised Moses that he will take his people from the slavery of Egypt into the Promised Land. Forty years later, he fulfilled that promise.
Century after century, from Genesis to Malachi, God promised to send the Messiah and in the fullness of time, Jesus was born of a pure virgin. The Virgin Mary embodied and personified God's fulfillment of his promise to the human race. She is saying, in effect, through this words of the Magnificat, God always, always keeps his promises. Let's say it together: "God always keeps his promises".
Let me ask you this: are you willing to trust God to keep his promise to you? Are you willing to trust him even when you see no evidence? Are you willing to trust him? Are you willing to magnify and glorify his name above all else? Waiting. Are you willing to bear witness to his grace and mercy, for his faithfulness? Even when things are going awry, even when things are going wrong, even when your circumstances are not favorable, you are favored by God, amen? Let's stand together. We're gonna have a very short, simple prayer. We're gonna pray it together and I hope you raise your voice and let heaven hear and let the devil hear. Here's the prayer. It's the prayer of the centurion. I'm gonna say it first, then we're gonna pray it together. "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief". Let's say it together. "Lord... I believe. Help my unbelief".