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bible reading feb 15

Bible reading for Feb 15:  Genesis 48; Luke 1:39-80.

Then Israel said to Joseph, "Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers." (Gen 48:21)

The younger shall be greater than the older.  In his benediction upon Joseph's two sons, the aged Jacob (aka Israel) crosses his arms in blessing the boys, placing his right hand on the younger of the two, Ephraim. Joseph is distressed by this, but Jacob insists that the younger will indeed be greater than the older.  Jacob himself, by God's decree, was just such an example.  Though the tradition of primogeniture (the firstborn male's right to inheritance and family leadership) is generally observed, God himself reserves the right to switch this up.  The Apostle Paul writes, "...though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad - in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call - she was told, 'The older will serve the younger'" (Romans 9:11-12).  God's choices are by his grace and mercy.  As Christians we need to hold loosely to what we suppose are our rights and privileges. God is free to place whomever he chooses wherever he wills!   

===================   

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name."  (Luke 1:46-49) 

In his book For the Love of God (Vol. 1), D. A. Carson comments on this chapter and reflects on the views that churches have held regarding Mary's status:  

Sometimes bad theology breeds reactionary bad theology. Because Roman Catholicism has gradually added more titles and myths to Mary, Protestants have sometimes reacted by remaining silent about her astonishing character. Neither approach fares very well when tested by this passage (Luke 1:39-80) and a few others we shall have occasion to think about. ... 

In Mary’s song (1:46-55), traditionally called the Magnificat (from the Latin word for magnifies: “My soul magnifies [NIV—glorifies] the Lord”), Jesus’ mother says that her spirit rejoices in “God my Savior”—which certainly sounds as if she thought of herself as needing a Savior, which would be odd for one immaculately conceived. Indeed, a rapid scan of the Gospels discloses that during Jesus’ ministry, Mary had no special access to her famous son, sometimes failed to understand the nature of his mission (e.g., 2:48-50), and never helped someone obtain some favor from Jesus that he or she could not otherwise obtain. Indeed, the unanimous testimony of Scripture is that people should come to Jesus: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), Jesus says—not, “Come to my mother.” He alone is the true mediator between God and human beings.


Nevertheless, Mary is wholly admirable, a model of many virtues (as is also, e.g., Joseph in Gen. 37—50). She accepts her astonishing role with submissiveness and equanimity, considering what it must have initially done to her reputation (1:34-38). Elizabeth twice calls her “blessed” (1:42, 45), i.e., approved by God; the supernatural recognition of the superiority of Mary’s Son over Elizabeth’s son (1:41-45) was doubtless one of the things that Mary pondered in her heart (2:19). But none of this goes to Mary’s head: she herself recognizes that her “blessedness” is not based on intrinsic superiority, but on God’s (the “Mighty One’s”) mindfulness of her “humble state” and his choice to do “great things” for her (1:48-49). Her focus in the Magnificat, as ours must be, is on the faithfulness of God in bringing about the deliverance so long promised (1:50-55).

--D. A. Carson, For the Love of God, Vol. 1, Feb 15 reading. 



Image credits.  Two paintings of Mary the mother of Jesus.  Above, "Madonna Of The Fir Tree", 1925, by Marianne Stokes (1855-1927).  Below, the Salus Populi Romani icon, overpainted in the 13th century, but going back to an underlying original dated to the 5th or 6th century. Source: Wikimedia Commons.  
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.  A PDF copy is available here. http://www.edginet.org/mcheyne/printables.html
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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