Mary’s Magnificent God, Luke 1:39-56 ESV Colin Munroe, Lead Pastor

Mary heard God’s Word and believed and because Mary believed the Word of God, she experienced the power of God (Holy Spirit) and now sought to share in the joy and understanding of Elizabeth. (community of God) Joy stands out in this passage 3x Elizabeth, John and Mary through the Holy Spirit and it lead to Worship / Song.

Luke 1:39-56 (ESV)
In those days (at that time) Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah (50-70 miles on foot), 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped (for joy–44) in her womb (John filled w/ Holy Spirit – He was already pointing to Jesus). And Elizabeth was filled with (and controlled by) the Holy Spirit (2 covenants collide), 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed (favored of God) are you among (not above) women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this (honor) granted to me that the mother of my Lord (1st one to call Him LORD – declared Lord in the womb) should come to me? (humility-we should be honored as well) 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord (Elizabeth affirmed and encouraged Mary’s faith).” (Because Mary believed the Word of God, she experienced the power of God) 46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (1st – Mary’s salvation), 48 (this is her why) for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed (He chose her); 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me (for us! – because Mary believed God and yielded to His Word and will, He performed a miracle in her life and used her to bring the Savior into the world! – He will do the same w/ us), and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him (reverence & awe) from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts (purpose and desires) of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled (and satisfied) the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty (w/o a gift). 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke (promised) to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” 56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

Mary identified 3 groups of people in her song: Helpless (51), Humble (52), Hungry (53). If we are honest that’s us.

Mary is the type of woman who puts her faith into action. She not only says, “Lord, your will be done” (1:38), but she also “hurries” to see God at work in the life of her relative Elizabeth. 

The journey to Judea that Mary undertook was not a simple drive to the next town; it was a difficult journey that would have taken at least three days at that time. Mary did not let that stop her from going to Elizabeth, rejoicing with her, and praising the Lord for fulfilling His promises.

Mary’s response—a song of praise for God’s mercy—echoes Hannah’s song (1 Samuel 2:1) and models the way all believers should respond to God’s work in their lives: with gratitude and praise. In the first half of her song (1:46-49), Mary acknowledged her humble position before the Almighty and praised Him for working in her life. Then Mary praises God for showing mercy to His people. We can join Mary in singing God’s praises, by recounting God’s mercy.

Luke 1:39-41 (ESV)
In those days (at that time) Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped (for joy – 44) in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with (and controlled by) the Holy Spirit,

Christians are urged to be filled with the Spirit as part of normal growth in the Lord (Eph. 5:18), but the filling Elizabeth experienced was different, spontaneous much like that of Peter in Acts 4:8. This filling captures the emotions with a God-centered joy and creates in the heart an excited sense of God’s loving purpose in your life. 

This filling makes you want to sing, pray, shout, and dance. When God moves your heart this way, let it show.

42 and she (Elizabeth) exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed (favored of God) are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this (honor) granted to me that the mother of my Lord (1st one to call Him LORD) should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken (promised) to her from the Lord (She believed God’s Word and promise would come to pass and received and lived it).” 

As Mary had rushed off to visit her relative, she must have been wondering whether the events of the last few days were real. Elizabeth’s greeting surely strengthened her faith. 

The Spirit also showed Elizabeth the identity of Mary’s child, for she knew that this child was blessed—God’s Son, the promised Messiah, with a unique identity and role to fulfill.

It is just like the Lord to assign Elizabeth to Mary for confirmation and encouragement from someone of spiritual maturity and experience and at the same time send Mary to Elizabeth for encouragement and support.

**That Mary “believed” is really quite remarkable. Her pregnancy was unprecedented. Her pregnancy was controversial, not established by a long tradition in a particular supportive community. Her pregnancy needed to be a secret—if she told everyone all that had actually occurred they would have put her away as being crazy. The facts that she was asked to believe required admirable trust, discernment, and patience. But as Gabriel told Mary, “The Lord is with you” (1:28). Mary believed that, and it made all the difference.

46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 (this is her why) for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him (reverence & awe) from generation to generation. 

Mary glorified God in song for what He was going to do for the world through her. Notice that God is pictured as a champion of the poor, the oppressed, and the despised.

Some have wondered how this young woman managed to speak these insightful words. We can take this beautiful song as coming from the lips of a woman who deeply loved God and to whom God gave special understanding of what He was doing. Just as the Holy Spirit gave Elizabeth insight, so Mary received it as well. As Mary journeyed from Nazareth to visit her relative, she had much time to think about what she had heard from the angel and what she understood about God’s plan for the Jewish people. When she arrived and Elizabeth spoke to her, Mary’s joy overflowed and she could say with her whole heart, ”My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Mary focused on God’s power, holiness, and mercy.

51 He has shown strength (power) with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts (purpose and desires) of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled (satisfied) the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty (w/o a gift). 

Mary pictured God’s strength being revealed to the sinful world as He scatters the proud, brings down the powerful, and sends the rich away empty. By contrast, God’s power shows in His mercy to His own—lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry with good things. Mary was speaking prophetically of these events so certain to occur that they could be spoken of as having already happened.

Pride is refusing to accept God’s gifts or taking credit for what God has done. 

Humility is accepting the gifts and using them to praise and serve God.

Mary’s song shows that what is seen is not all that it seems. God takes the world’s values and expectations and turns them upside down. God Himself would come to earth and face rejection by the proud, the powerful, and the rich. He would lift the lowly and fill the hungry. And God continues to do that today. 

God is mighty and merciful, ruthless against pride and injustice but sensitive to individual needs. God knows humanity’s sinful, stubborn nature, and He sent His Son to redeem sinful human beings.


Mary’s song breaks all the stereotypes of her as a young, self-absorbed mother, too naive to know about the political climate around her and too centered on her pregnancy to care. Here Mary speaks in the highest Old Testament prophetic voice, echoing all the great Old Testament themes of redemption, freedom, and justice. She was revolutionary for her time, probably for this time too. She exhibited a large vision of God, a sense of God’s grand purpose, and the heart of God for oppressed people. This is a very strong message of resolute faith in a God who wills to act in a sinful world, to save it, and to redeem it.

54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke (promised) to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

This “help” for Israel is the Messiah, who will come according to the promise [God] made to our ancestors. God kept his promise to Abraham to be merciful to God’s people forever (Gen. 22:16-18). Jesus’ birth fulfilled the promise.

Micah 7:18-20 (ESV)
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. 19 He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. 20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.