Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Why Does Luke's Orderly Account Include Mary's Song?

Have you ever read the Christmas story and wondered why Luke included songs? At the beginning of his gospel, Luke says he aims to provide "an orderly account" so that Theophilus could "have certainty concerning the things you have been taught." When we're looking for the facts, just the facts, we don't usually expect to find poetry, do we? Let's consider a couple reasons why Luke's orderly account needs the Magnificat.

Firstly, I encourage you to read the poem. I'll encourage you to do so lastly, as well. But, for now, at least read through it to get the main idea and tone fresh in your mind.

It Means More

Let's begin our investigation at the obvious starting point—the ending! Don't worry, we'll come back to the opening line in a moment. The real anchor for the song's inclusion, however, is at its conclusion.

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.

Much of Luke's non-poetic Christmas story tells us what happened. Mary closes her song with a confession that tells us why it happened. God became a flesh-and-blood person to make good on his promise to redeem his people. You might be thinking, That's fine and goodof course, we need to know why it happenedbut that doesn't explain why the why needs to be in a song. The why needs to be in Mary's song because it means more that way.

Sure, Luke could tell us that the Jews were waiting on God to make good on his promise. Mary, however, can give us the firsthand perspective. Mary sings to us, My people were waiting, and now God has done this great thing—he has helped his servant in remembrance of his mercy. This personal perspective connects to the other reason for the song that we'll consider from its opening.

It Means My Soul

Now, let's jump back up to the start. We see another reason for including Mary's song in its very first words.

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior

Luke's narrative needs Mary's song because her soul sings it. Luke needs us to know that not everything about this account is altogether orderly—because in some regard it is so intimate. Remember that folks in Mary's day didn't draw the hard distinctions between mind and body and soul that we sometimes do. When she says, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior," she means everything she's got—everything she is—points to the Lord and says, You are magnificent!

When we ask Mary what Christmas is all about, her answer begins with, My soul. That communicates to us the personal meaningfulness of God becoming a flesh-and-blood person in a way that we don't get from too orderly an account.

It Means Your Soul

Read through Mary's song again. Read it slowly. Read it two or three times. Let it influence the song of your maybe-sometimes-less-than-orderly account. Remember, God's becoming a flesh-and-blood person imparts meaningfulness into your being a flesh-and-blood person. Think about that personal connection when you read Mary's song. Let it lead your soul, too, to magnify the Lord.

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