Yesterday I preached from Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-56 and tried to show how the events surrounding her miraculous conception shaped her perception of God. Specifically, my concern was to call attention to those descriptions in the “Magnificat” that portray Him as the “Great Reverser.”
That language is borrowed from David Wells in his book, Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision. This is the third title in his 4 book project on Christianity in a postmodern world. When I first read it 8 years ago, I was struck by his insights into evangelism in an age captivated by postmodernity. His comments on Mary have my underlines and asterisks all around them. Yesterday I read this paragraph in the sermon. It comes from the fifth chapter, which is entitled, “Contradictions.”
God, Mary saw, is the great reverser of what we think is normal. From a human perspective, there is a contrarian twist to God’s actions. They do not follow the paths of convention. In this case, does it make sense that Mary, a poor, inconsequential teenager (in all likelihood), is remembered today, for she said, “Henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48)? And they have–while the rich and powerful of the day have more or less vanished from memory. Who today knows of the great celebrities of Mary’s time, women like Livia (who married Augustus Caesar), Octavia (whom Mark Anthony divorced in order to marry Cleopatra), or Antonia (who was poised by her emperor-grandson, Caligula)? They had their season at the pinnacle of power and at the center of attention. They lived in great honor; Mary, in great obscurity and social shame. The wind, however, has blown them away, but Mary will be remembered forever (174).
It was amazing–almost overwhelming–to think of the many divine “contrarian twists” in that auditorium yesterday as I preached. Many if not most of us would have very little reason to associate with one another were it not for the power of the Gospel operating in our lives. By sending His Son in human flesh, God reversed our prospects and and transformed our lives. It really is overwhelming.