CONTEXT: With its 80 verses Luke chapter 1 is one of the longest chapters in the New Testament. Luke was a companion of the Apostle Paul and the Gospel of Luke, unlike that of Mathew, Mark and John is not based on first-hand knowledge but first-hand (eye witness) accounts. Matthew Henry breaks down this first chapter as follows: The narrative which this evangelist gives us (or rather God by him) of the life of Christ begins earlier than either Matthew or Mark. We have reason to thank God for them all, as we have for all the gifts and graces of Christ’s ministers, which in one make up what is wanting in the other, while all put together make a harmony. In this chapter we have, I. Luke’s preface to his gospel, or his epistle dedicatory to his friend Theophilus (v. 1-4). II. The prophecy and history of the conception of John Baptist, who was Christ’s forerunner (v. 5-25). III. The annunciation of the virgin Mary, or the notice given to her that she should be the mother of the Messiah (v. 26-38). IV. The interview between Mary the mother of Jesus and Elisabeth the mother of John, when they were both with child of those pregnant births, and the prophecies they both uttered upon that occasion (v. 39-56). V. The birth and circumcision of John Baptist, six months before the birth of Christ (v. 57-66). VI. Zacharias’s song of praise, in thankfulness for the birth of John, and in prospect of the birth of Jesus (v. 67-79). VII. A short account of John Baptist’s infancy (v. 80). And these do more than give us an entertaining narrative; they will lead us into the understanding of the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh.
Our text verses for today come from the section of the chapter v.46-56, known as The Magnificat. This is latian for “my soul’ and is also often referred to as the Prayer of Mary. Mary begins by exclaiming her great praise for the miracle she is carrying: 46“My soul magnifies and exalts the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. Note that Mary refers to God as her Lord and Savior.
Then in v.48, Mary makes it totally clear she is merely a servant (handmaiden) and nothing more. Yet all future generations will think her Blessed, for having been chosen for this task (NOT BLESS-ED) Holy or more righteous than others.
We conclude today with v.49, and Mary once again extolling the praises of the Lord. Note she makes it clear, that all glory is due Him and none to her; He has done…Holy is His name.
Calvin on v.48: Because he hath looked She explains the reason why the joy of her heart was founded in God to be, that out of free grace he had looked upon her. By calling herself low she disclaims all merit, and ascribes to the undeserved goodness of God every occasion of boasting. For tapeinosis, lowness, does not here denote — as ignorant and uneducated men have foolishly imagined — “submission, or modesty, or a quality of the mind,” but signifies “a mean and despicable condition.”  The meaning is, “I was unknown and despised, but that did not prevent God from deigning to cast his eyes upon me.” But if Mary’s lowness is contrasted with excellence — as the matter itself and the Greek word make abundantly plain — we see how Mary makes herself nothing, and praises God alone. And this was not the loud cry of a pretended humility, but the plain and honest statement of that conviction which was engraven on her mind; for she was of no account in the eyes of the world, and her estimation of herself was nothing more.
Matthew Poole comments on v.49: That which is observable both in this verse, and in this whole song, is how the blessed virgin attributes all to God, and ascribes nothing to herself, or any merits of her own, much like unto her father David. Psalm 115:1, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake; and herein she teacheth those generations, which she had even now said should call her blessed, how to take notice of her, viz. as one highly favored of the Lord, one for whom God indeed had done great things, but not as one who had merited anything at God’s hand, much less as one to whom we should pay a greater devotion than to her Son, and speak to her that she should command her Son, according to the blasphemous devotion and idolatry of the papists. Mary is very careful of giving succeeding generations any occasion from her expressions for any such superstitions.
And holy is his name: holy, that is, glorious and venerable.
His name, that is, he himself is glorious and holy, far above the conception and comprehension of poor creatures.
This Christmas as we celebrate, remember many folks are and can be Blest only one human was ever wholly Blessed. He is the reason and the focus of our celebration.