Luke:1:46b-55, James 5:7-10, Hebrews 12:1-2

Mary’s song/poem of praise is often called the Magnificat in the Protestant/Roman Catholic tradition, or the Ode of the Theotokos (Bearer of God) in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. It is a joy-filled response to God by Mary that appears to be a response to Elizabeth’s joy-filled pronouncement of the Sprit-filled joy of John the Baptist (in utero, of all things) to hearing the voice of the Mother of God (Jesus).

The double-meaning of Mary’s praise of “…my spirit rejoices in God my savior…” is the Jewish understanding of God (the Father) as the savior of their people, along side the coming salvation of Jew and Gentile through the death of Jesus (God the Son). There is the reality of God as past, present and future savior.

The Jews knew many experiences of God as savior. The expectation for the coming Messiah was built upon an understanding of a God that was faithful and would fulfill promises made.

As a Jew, James had the same Jewish understanding as pregnant Mary, and he had seen fulfillment of the Messiah’s coming and salvation. Now James is passing the hope on. It is the expectation based upon God’s faithfulness that the Messiah will come again and the hope that remains strong in the face of adversity.

In Hebrews, the author notes that Jesus went to the cross joyfully, not because Jesus was looking forward to the pain, anguish, betrayal and death. Jesus was looking beyond the cross, beyond the grave, and even beyond the Resurrection. The author notes that Jesus’ prize was the throne of God. Though the author doesn’t say it here, the other prize was you and me before the throne of God, not in fear of judgement, but as Children of the Most High God.

Elsewhere, the author of Hebrews notes that Jesus, our Savior, is continually interceding on our behalf and for all eternity. No matter how you feel about yourself being worthy, it doesn’t matter. As shirts and bumper stickers read, “I may not be perfect, but Jesus thinks I’m to die for.” That is our hope and joy.

1) Are hope and joy the same thing?

2) Why are having hope and joy important for a Christian?

3) Why is it important to look at the Old Testament in regards to salvation?

KD) Why does the author of Hebrews compare faith to running a race?