Study 3 – Luke 1:39-56

Study 3 – Luke 1:39-56

1. What does Mary’s song reveal about: (a) the character of God (see especially verses 49, 50), and (b) His way of working among men (verses 51-53)? How were these facts demonstrated in the manner of the Saviour’s coming?
2. What features in Mary’s character are revealed in this song? What can we learn from her example?

1. (a) God does great things, and is worthy of praise. He is merciful to those who fear him.

Straight away I had a problem with this… Merciful to those who fear Him? OK, so Jesus isn’t born yet so the people are still living by the Old Testament. However, fear is such a horrible word and I know that “fear God” is used several times in the New Testament… So I had a quick look around about the fear of God.

The first website I found stated the following:

In Hebrew, yirah (Jon 1:16, Ps 90:11), yare (above, Mal 3:16) and pachad (Job 3:25a, Ps 119:120) mean reverent fear, terror, or dread, normally translated simply fear. There are other words in Hebrew for mere respect, reverence, or honor, such as kabad (Ex 20:12). In Greek fear/terror is phobo (Mat 28:4,1 Pet 2:17c), where reverence or honor is timao (1 Pet 2:17a/d).


Now… The website is about how we should LITERALLY have fear of God… Firstly, all those examples are Old Testament except Matthew and Peter… So I had a look at the context. The Matthew verse is “The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men”. This was in context to Jesus appearing outside his tomb. Now, let’s be fair… You’ve just seen a dead man come back to life! I’d be bricking it too!! Fear I think is a fair word to use, BUT, I wouldn’t say this is refering to fear of God. The other quote is from 1Peter and says “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king”. However, this guy then uses the same quote as his example for the word timao which means respect.

So, don’t get me wrong, it’s right to realise that our God is mighty God! I know that there are times when I stand in utter awe of God and realise just how huge He is and just how small I am, and it makes me feel a bit fearful… But then, looking at the stars, I remember God created the universe and “determines the number of stars and calls them each by name” (Psalm 147:4).

What a magnificent image! God calls the stars by name… and yet He loves us, holds us and walks alongside us in our journey with Him.

I don’t think God wants us to fear Him in our understanding of the word… It is right to have a reverence and awe of God and realise actually how small we are, but even more important to remember His love for us and I think fear can stifle that.

1. (b) He helps those who are humble and downtrodden. These aspects are demonstrated in the manner of the Saviours coming because He didn’t choose a Queen or Lady to bear His child. He chose a one of His “humble servants”. A teenage girl who wasn’t rich and wouldn’t have been educated (which is amazing in iteself as it shows God uses EVERYONE!). Jesus HAD to come into the world as “nothing”… Just like most people today are assumed to be a “noone”. If He had come into the world as royalty (earthly terms!) then how could He have related in any way to the poor and needy, the hurting, the broken, the people who needed Him the most…

2. Mary seems excited and rejoices in God. Again, it would be a scary prospect and just shows that “if God brings you to it, He’ll get you through it!” I think Mary would’ve been full of Gods spirit and putting her trust completely in Him. When reading it I can imagine Mary full of the spirit, excited to tell Elizabeth how great God is and… well… deliriously happy!


1 Comment »

  1. Michael Said:

    I think the nature of God does inspire simple fear in humankind..this is simply due to Gods holiness coupled with the fact that God has been known to act in a manner that is seemingly ruthless and utterly terrible..there are times when I am quite keen on some sin or another but am held back by simple fear of the consequence-not least for me that my conscience will turn against me so that I will have to turn up to confession and tell someone about it!!
    However the love of God does dispel the plain terror and transforms plain naked fear into awe respect and love-this as with all things of God is part experiential-for myself its taken 20 years or so for the love of God to infuse until I am able to present my sinful self before God and say-ok God-don’t get too angry with me-you already sent your son to save me so the least I can do is sit before you as I am and not who i’d like to be…
    Strangely enough the being before God as a sinner is profoundly comforting though it does have the flavour of salt – deep sorrow , vulnerability and gratitude

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