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Part of the FBCS 2010 Read Through the Bible Project: Enter the Story. Join the Song.

May Our Souls Magnify the Lord!

Luke 1:26-56    Ezekiel 34    Isaiah 58

“Should not shepherds feed the sheep?” (Ezekiel 34:2). Today’s readings offer us a study in contrasts. On the one hand, bad shepherds who do not feed the sheep (34:3), and on the other, the good shepherd, who “has filled the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:53). Then, alongside this, is placed the contrast between Mary, “the servant of the Lord” (Luke 1:38), and Isaiah’s people, about whom God says, “Look, you serve your own interest” (Isaiah 58:3). Even while claiming to be religious. By means of such contrasts, the story offers us opportunities for gaining clarity, both in the comprehending of God’s character and in understanding the truest commitments of those who would be the people of God (Ezekiel 34:30).

“I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep” (Ezekiel 34:15). “And I will make them lie down.” The words bring to mind the shepherd’s psalm (Psalm 23) and reveal the context of Jesus’ later claim to be the “good shepherd” (John 10:11). Note with care the character of God our Good Shepherd, who gives all to the vocation of seeking, rescuing, leading, healing, strengthening, feeding, judging between, saving, and blessing the sheep (Ezekiel 34:11ff). Or, as Mary sings, scattering the proud, bringing down the powerful, lifting up the lowly, and filling the hungry (Luke 1:52,53). Do you see it? This is the character of the Lord our God, who is “with” us (Ezekiel 34:30; Luke 1:28). To know this, or, more accurately, to know this shepherd, is to know great joy (Luke 1:46) and take “delight” (Isaiah 58:14) in the Lord. Knowing, and being known by, the Good Shepherd, is also to know what it truly means to “magnify” the Lord.

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord” (Luke 1:38). In this response, Mary, blessed Mary, magnifies — declares the greatness of — God. For, in her “let it be to me according to your word,” she embraces the character and will of God with a true servant’s heart. This as opposed to being counted among those who serve their own interests (Isaiah 58:3). As Mary models and sings, to know God as the Good Shepherd who desires justice, mercy, compassion, and love (Isaiah 58:6-9) is to serve the shepherd and his sheep in the same way. Well. How, then, is it with us in this regard? Am I living in the light of God? Do you take delight in the Lord? Do our lives declare the greatness of God? Mary, the Lord’s willing servant, guides us to the right and holy answer. May we be willing servants of our Good and Holy Shepherd. May we comprehend God’s character and serve the Lord’s interests. And may we, in the very living of our lives, magnify the Lord. Amen.

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on
the lowliness of his servant.”
— Luke 1:46-48

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