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Luke 1:46ff

Rev. Andrew Eckert

St. Paul's Lutheran Church  
Wellston, Oklahoma

Sun, May 29, 2011 

We Lutherans often fail to contemplate the Virgin Mary enough.  Now, I am not saying that we should pray to her or meditate upon her as if she by herself were a source of grace to us.  Yet there is something about the Blessed Virgin that is beyond comprehension.  She is a mystery, since in her flesh dwelt the Godhead in bodily form.

We Christians receive the Godhead in a different way.  He dwells in us through His Word, yet not bodily.  We eat and drink His holy Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.  Yet even that is not the same as what happened with Mary.  Her body was the vessel that contained Christ, that nourished Him for nine months.  The incredible mystery of the incarnation took place within her body, and in no one else's.  The holy Babe was joined to her in the miraculous estate of motherhood, as He has never nor will ever be joined to anyone else.  No one but she can rightfully be called the Mother of God.  For He whom she bore was none other than the Lord Almighty in human flesh.

We cannot fully see how great a blessing and honor was given to this girl from Nazareth, even if we ponder it for many years.  Rightly does the hymn say of her, "O higher than the cherubim, More glorious than the seraphim . . . Thou Bearer of the eternal Word . . ."  This is Mary, the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin.

Yet what does she do in response to the incredible grace she receives from God?  She is humble and lowly.  The beloved Virgin adorns herself beautifully by not becoming proud of the honor she received by becoming the Mother of God.  No one would have been surprised if she had given in to arrogance, since she was the Bearer of the Son of God.

If all the money in the world were to lie in one big pile, it would be nothing but a garbage heap compared with her great honor.  Never has a human being on earth been so privileged, so that Elizabeth called her the Mother of her Lord, and blessed among women.  Gabriel, the mighty angel of God, called her "Highly favored one," and the Mother of the Son of the Highest.

Note well that the Virgin does not deny that she is blessed this way.  That would have been false humility, to call God a liar, and to deny His Word and grace.

Rather than deny, Mary magnifies the Lord, that is, she praises Him by saying how great He is.  She does not magnify herself.  By magnifying God, she humbles herself.  By elevating another, she debases herself.

Mary sets us poor beggars down and gives us all a lesson in humility.  It does not matter who we are.  We are all scoundrels with arrogance in our hearts.  Our self-praising spirits are divisive.  Yet we have so much less to boast of than the Handmaiden of God.

But even she was not chosen for her great virtues.  Surely there were more lofty virgins He could have found.  But He chose her, a poor, tattered garment, lowly and less than nothing.  Her He exalts greatly, higher than cherubim and seraphim.

God deals similarly with us.  If we want to be wise and knowledgeable in our own eyes, then He will bring us down.  If we want to be holy in our own actions and in our own righteousness, then He will bring us down.

But if we humbly acknowledge our sins, He will lift us up.  If we, bags of worms that we are, call ourselves nothing, and less than nothing, then He will make us something glorious in His Son.  If we fear Him because we deserve His wrath, then He comes in gentleness, with healing in His wings.

So Jesus comes to the lowliest of the low.  This is God's greatest gift to us awful sinners.  He gives us none other than His Son, the Only-Begotten.  This is His mercy in human flesh.  Since we have Christ, then the Father cannot be angry at us.  The presence of Christ overshadows us, so that He cannot see our sins.  He dwells with us so that we become the Temple of the Most High.

He comes so that His flesh, which He got from Mary, can be laid down in death.  He comes so that His precious Blood can be shed to buy us back from the horror of our own abominable sins.  Terrible as our sins are, Christ is greater and stronger and majestic enough to wipe away all sins for all time.

So He promised to Abraham and the rest of our spiritual fathers.  So He has accomplished in Mary's womb, and in the manger, and upon the Cross, and in the Empty Tomb.

That is the whole point of pondering the great blessing given to Mary.  The blessing was not for her alone.  She was blessed so that you are blessed.  She bore God's Son so that He could redeem you.  She carried Christ so that He could carry you into His Paradise.  This He has done and accomplished for you.  The Virgin's Son has finished all that was necessary so that you have been saved from death and hell.

To poor, humble sinners He has come.  To poor, humble sinners He has poured out His salvation, the forgiveness of sins, in His Blood.  All glory to His Name.  Amen.

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