I am not the first to point out the revolutionary tones in Mary’s song of Christmas praise known as the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56).
Two centuries ago, a famous preacher named E. Stanley Jones (no relation to this Jones) called the Magnificat “the most revolutionary document in the world.”
William Barclay, an English theologian, calls the Magnificat “a bombshell.” He says we have forgotten its “revolutionary terror” and goes on to identify three revolutions in the coming of Messiah: moral, social, and economic, each mentioned in Mary’s song.
During the 1980s, the dictators of Guatemala outlawed the public reading of the Magnificat because of its potential to encourage a socio-political revolution. Can you imagine the dictator thugs of Guatemala threatened by sweet Mary’s song?
Some people are good at managing what is by focusing on today. They try to keep everybody happy by maintaining the status quo. Other people are visionaries. They help us see what could be and put plans in place to help us get there. They help us see those preferred pictures of tomorrow. Still others are revolutionaries. They change and reverse the order of things. When a revolution happens, major shifts in culture and institutional structure take place.
When such dramatic change occurs during a revolution, the people who lived through it reference life “before the revolution” or “after the revolution.” Such is the case with the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Bolshevik Revolution. Revolutions are still taking place today. Some say we’ve been through a Technology Revolution much like the Industrial Revolution of the past. Not long ago I read a newspaper headline that said, “Hugo Chavez suffers a blow to his ‘revolution.’”
Let’s take a closer look at Mary’s revolutionary cry:
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost hearts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. – Luke 1:51-53
Mary understood the powerful and revolutionary implications of Messiah’s arrival. Jesus didn’t come to this earth to maintain the status quo. Nor did he come to simply cast a compelling vision for our lives. He came to change and reverse the order of things.
Jesus exalted the status of the poor and humble while bringing down the proud and rich. He said things like, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:2). He taught us to be rich toward God through generosity. He actually told one rich man to give all his money to the poor and then follow Him. Now that’s a revolutionary idea!
In the first sermon Jesus preached in his home town of Nazareth, he announced, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
Jesus was a revolutionary! Not a socio-political revolutionary as some thought Messiah would be. No, in His first Advent, He established a spiritual kingdom. During His second Advent, He will establish His kingdom on earth where He will literally reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords for one thousand years. In Scripture, this is known as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled
Here is the question we must all wrestle with this Christmas: Have I personally experienced the revolution? Has Jesus Christ, the revolutionary, come into my life and changed the order of things? Has he really transformed my life?
It’s possible to come to church every week, to enter into the Christmas season, and be totally unaffected by the birth of Messiah. Is this just another Christmas to you? Is Christmas all about sentimental visions of sugar plum ferries but not about your Savior? All of that can change this Christmas. A spiritual revolution awaits you by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who, though He exists eternally, was born in Bethlehem in a manger more than two thousand years ago.