Salvation For the Humble

The image of a diamond comes to mind when I think about the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). There are so many angles, so many ways in which one can mine wisdom out of this passage. For the diggers of God’s word, this passage is indeed a diggers rest.

But today I am thinking about just three verses (51, 52, 53) because these verses paint a profound picture of gods kingdom. These verses address the deepest longings of Christians. They are packed with hope. The hope that God will lift up his downtrodden people. He will fill his hungry sheep. He will satisfy us with himself

“51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

The first thing to note about these verses is that Mary is so sure of these promises that she sings them in the past tense. Its as if they are already fulfilled.

The Magnificat promises that one day God will lift up the humble and fill the hungry. One day, he will scatter the proud, bring down rulers and make rich poor.

But one should ask, who are these ‘poor’? Who are these ‘humble? Who are these ‘rich’? To answer who these people are, Jesus tells a parable.

10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

Jesus tells us that the humble are those who, like the tax collector, forsake all their self-righteousness and cling only to God through Jesus. They are those who consider themselves unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness. Who beat their chest and mourn and grieve over their sin. Who don’t think that by their good works they can somehow put God in debt. Who don’t think they deserve eternal life, but they flee to Jesus to be saved.

The proud on the other hand are like that Pharisee who boast in their own righteousness, who boast in their good deeds, charity, morality, manners, religiosity. The proud think that they deserve eternal life because of their good deeds. They say to themselves, didn’t I give thousands of dollars to charity, Didn’t I volunteer endlessly surely God will give me eternal life. I am a good person anyways. But we know from the parable: the Pharisee didn’t get justified, but instead, the humble man who beats his chest and clings only to God is justified.

So we who have put our hope in God through Christ and not in our own righteousness. We are the poor, the hungry that the Magnificat talks about.

If we are the poor that Mary sings about then what is promised for us? What hope do we have in God? What’s in store for us who cling to God and shun our self-righteousness. The text says that God will lift us up, satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst. Later in the Gospel Jesus expounds on this when he says, ‘Happy are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Happy are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Happy are you who weep now for you will laugh (Luke 6:20-21)

But what does it mean? How will we be filled and satisfied? The book of Revelation describes our future in these glorious words, “he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, ‘nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7: 16-17)

We will live under God’s presence, where there is fullness of joy. All the suffering will pass away. He will wipe away every tear of sadness from our eyes and put his joy in you. This is how we will be filled. This is the great hope that Mary sings about. This is the great hope that we long for in this time of advent. This hope is for the humble who forsake their own self-righteousness and cling only to Jesus. Who put their trust not in their charity, their good works, their religiosity, their tithes, their status or anything else. Instead they cling only to Jesus.

Come Lord Jesus.

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