Mary’s Song

Coffee & check in (10 minutes)

(From this point up to the prayer time should take about 50 minutes normally.  This bible study is longer and could perhaps be divided into 2 or 3 sessions.)

Worship Opening Prayer

Focus If you were a General Manager of a NHL hockey team, what criteria would you use in picking your players?

What criteria does God use in picking the players on his team?

Part 1 – Read Luke 1:26-38


v. 26-27 the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy; Mary (English form of Mariam) is from Nazareth in Galilee.  The Jews in Galilee, esp in Nazareth were looked down upon by the Jews in Judah because of proximity with Gentiles.   Can anything good come from Nazareth?

She is betrothed to Joseph.  Betrothal in those days was a legally binding engagement but sexual relations were not permitted during the time of betrothal.

Mary and Joseph were very poor.  At the time of Mary’s purification 40 days after Jesus’ birth, they could only afford 2 doves for a sacrifice, not a lamb as was usual to redeem a first born.

v.28 the 1st part of the Hail Mar/Ave Maria prayer.

v. 29 Mary was greatly perplexed and reasoned inwardly about what kind of greeting this might be.

v. 30 could be translated (though no translation does) you have discovered grace from God.

v. 31 Jesus means “God saves.”  As Mary’s son, Jesus will be human

v. 32 “Most High” is another way of referring to God without using his name.  The Jews were very careful about using God’s name because of the 2nd commandment.  As the son of God, Jesus will be divine.  Jesus will be the descendant of David who will rule forever.  (2 Sam 7:13, 16)

v. 34 Mary wasn’t questioning what would happen.  She was wondering how it would happen.

v. 35 overshadow In the Greek version of the OT, the same word is used to describe the way that the shekinah glory of God overshadowed the tabernacle (Exo 40:35).  In the synoptic accounts of the Transfiguration, the same word is used to describe the way that the cloud overshadowed the mountain. (Mk 9:7; Mt 17:5).

Gabriel’s explanation of how this would happen does not include Joseph.  Joseph would not be Jesus’ father, even though Jesus would legally be his son.  “It’s possible that some people thought Mary had been unfaithful to Joseph and that Jesus was ‘born of fornication’ (John 8:41).  This was a part of the pain that Mary had to bear all her life (Luke 2:35).”  Wiersbe, W. W. The Bible Exposition Commentary

v. 36 two women are going to have babies.  One is too old and the other is too young.  Nothing is impossible with God!

v. 38 servant  Has the connotation of a bondservant, someone who sells himself or herself into slavery to another.


Part 2 – Read Luke 1:39-45


There is an interesting parallel between Mary’s journey to Judah and the journey of the ark of the covenant to the same place (2 Sam 6:2-11).  Both “arose and made a journey.” Both were greeted with “shouts” of joy.  The ark stayed at the home of Obededom for 3 months and was a source of blessing to the home.  Mary stayed at Elizabeth’s for 3 months and blessed the house by her visit.  David said, “How shall the Ark of the Lord come to me?”  Elizabeth said, “Why should this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  “As a temporary and portable vessel housing the immanent presence of the true God, Mary appears to fulfill the purpose of the ark of the covenant.” (Arthur Just, Concordia Commentary on Luke 1:1-9:50, p.72)

v. 39 Mary journeyed south from Nazareth to Judah

v. 41-42  In the presence of the fetus Jesus, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaims with praise.

v. 42 The 2nd part of the Hail Mary/Ave Maria prayer.

v. 45  Elizabeth proclaims what is most significant about Mary.


Part 3 – Read Luke 1:46-56


Mary’s Song is called the Magnificat because the Latin version of v. 46 is Magnificat anima mea Dominum

v. 46  could be translated ‘My soul lifts up the Lord in praise.’

v. 47  Jesus is also Mary’s Saviour.  Mary is, like us, a sinner in need of salvation.

v. 48 mindful (or “looked upon” that is looked with favour upon Mary.

v. 50 “fear” that is, those who revere God and live in harmony with his will.

v.51 Like the OT prophets, Mary speaks of events whose fulfillment may be in the future as being so certain and sure that she uses the past perfect tense.  “arm” symbolizes strength. “proud”  NET Bible  “he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance of their hearts.”

vv. 52-53  The poor and downtrodden were virtually helpless when it came to achieving justice.  In the end, God will make all things right.  The poor and humble will be lifted up.  The rich and arrogant will be brought down.  Jesus shows us by example what the role of the church is to be in relation to our society.  Jesus did not try to take control of the political machinery of the time, nor did he try to overthrow it.  “He went instead to the poor and the sinners offering them forgiveness and deliverance and inviting them into a community whose life was to embody God’s will.  Only God, from Luke’s perspective, is able to achieve a just society in the Last Day.  In the meantime the evangelist presents Jesus and his church not as having a social ethic for society at large but as trying to have one in their own life together.  In the Lukan mind the first duty of the church is to be the church, to be a community that, through the way its members deal with one another, demonstrates to the world what social relations directed by God are….  In Luke-Acts Jesus and his church do not attempt to change society at large by attacking it directly by whatever means-violent or non-violent-but by subverting its values as they live communally out of God’s will before the world …. The ultimatge transformation of society’s structures generally awaits the kingdom of God at the [end of time].”Talbert, C.H. Reading Luke:  A literary and theological commentary on the third Gospel

v. 54-55  God’s active compassion for the poor and downtrodden includes Abraham and his seed (sperma in Greek).  God keeps his promises.

v. 56  Mary may have stayed with Elizabeth until John was born and then she returned home.  Mary would have been about 3 months pregnant by this time.  She likely would have faced questions about why she left so suddenly, where was she and why is she now pregnant after being away for that time.

Discussion (When the inform time is complete [ideally there would be only 1 inform session and it would be brief, 10-15 minutes] the leader asks “Who would like to start the discussion?”  If someone so indicates, they are given a soft toy, like a nerf ball or a stuffed toy and they get to ask the first discussion question. [Our is called the Bible Study Bunny.]  If no one asks for the soft toy, the leader passes it to his or her right or left.  Each person who receives the nerf ball must either present a discussion question or pass.  This way the discussion questions are generated by the group.)


  1. What have we discovered tonight in God’s Word?
  1. What is happening in our world right now that relates to our discovery?
  1. How do we pray this current event to God in light of what God is saying to us through his Word?

What is our topic for next time?




Prayer time (During this time, each person in the group writes their name and their prayer requests on a 5 x 3 card.  When everyone is done writing, each person reads out their prayer request.  Then the cards are passed 2 persons to the right or left and we go around the circle and pray those prayer requests.  Then each person takes home the card that they have received and prays for the person who wrote the card and their prayer requests each day of the coming week.  We allow about 30 minutes for this pray time.)


(used in one of the Monday Small Groups @ WGLC on 15 December 2008 )

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