October 4, 2020 A+D
St. Luke 14:1-11
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Pride goeth before destruction, And an haughty spirit before a fall.”
Eve thought that she could see for herself what was good. She thought that her vision was more keen and trustworthy than God’s Word. Her pride brought death and destruction upon us all. The unbelief of pride is still our chief problem and danger.
So it is that God promises to come and overthrow pride. He does this both in His Church and also in the nations. It must be overthrown. Not only does it endanger the souls of believers, but it also oppresses and hurts the weak. Thus it is written:
“The Lord God has sworn by Himself, The Lord God of hosts says: “I abhor the pride of Jacob, And hate his palaces; Therefore I will deliver up the city And all that is in it.”” (Amos 6:8, NKJV)
Though it is not a zero sum game, for God to overthrow the proud is also to exalt the lowly. God affects a reversal of fortunes. He makes a bizarre exchange. He gives His innocent Son to a shameful death in order to redeem, honor, and beautify wicked rebels. It is written:
“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.” (Psalm 149:4, NKJV)
This promise is fulfilled in St. Mary’s womb. She, a lowly virgin of no notice to the powerful in Jerusalem or Rome, exalts God to her cousin Elizabeth, magnifying Him and revelling in her own exaltation that she has received through the Baby conceived in her. The world thinks her pregnancy shameful since she is not married, but she recognizes her own honor and thus sings:
My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; And holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him From generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, And exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; And the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, In remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, To Abraham, and to his seed for ever.” (Luke 1:46–55, KJV 1900)
This fulfilled what Isaiah prophesied. The Man of Sorrows, who bore our grief, has dealt prudently; He has been exalted and extolled and is very high (Isaiah 52:13, NKJV). His humiliation and His execution lead directly to exaltation, to His resurrection and ascension. For He could not be exalted or ascend if He was not first humbled, if He did not first descend. His exaltation was not simply for Himself. It was also for Mary. He came down to get her and to bring her back up with Him. He regarded her low estate in order to change it, to elevate her. So it is that now and forever all generations called her blessed.
We, likewise, have been crucified with Him by faith. He descended for us and was raised for our justification. We are now dead to the law’s accusations, free of the old covenant by means of a New Covenant wherein we drink the Blood of the risen Christ because Life is in the Blood. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. We are raised with Him. The life we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. Our glory and honor are hidden from sight, but unlike Eve in her rebellion, we trust not in our own vision but in the promises of God. We are the sons of Mary who embraces her magnification and says, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Let it be unto me according to your Word.
Thus the words of Jesus: Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”” (Luke 14:11, NKJV)
If we are to be exalted, it must be by God, according to His grace, as it was for Mary, and not by our own powers or merit. We have no powers or merit, of ourselves, that can lift us from the mire of our sins or that can build a tower to heaven, but God has the power to do what we can and would not. He makes Himself a ladder for men and angels. He heals on the Sabbath. He honors the guilty and ashamed. He vacates His high seat and joins us in the cheap seats, in the janitor’s closet and the beggar’s line and in prison. He takes our sin and the punishment that we deserved, and then He invites us to come up higher, to go with Him to His place, the seat of honor. He exalts the undeserving, the humiliated, the weak. He came in humility to get and exalt us and thus we are unashamed of His Gospel.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.