Mary, mother of Jesus, instantly, humbly and joyfully submitted to God’s will without doubt or question. She could hardly have had a more godly response to the announcement of Jesus’ birth. Mary’s response to the angel’s unexpected news revealed her true character. It demonstrated that she was a young woman of mature faith and one who was a worshipper of the true God.
In the second part of this blog on Mary, I’m going to focus on her song that is often called ‘The Magnificat’, the first word in the Latin translation of this passage. Mary’s song has often been used as the basis for choral music and hymns. Like Hannah , the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10), Mary glorified God in song for what he was going to do for the world through her. In both songs, God is pictured as a champion of the poor, the oppressed, and the despised.
Mary understood that Christ’s birth fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham to be merciful to God’s people forever (Genesis 22:16-18). She was not surprised when her special son announced that he was the Messiah. She had known Jesus’ mission before his birth.
To put the song in context, after receiving this news from the angel, Mary filled with joy and bubbling over with praise, went to visit Elizabeth. There is nothing in God’s word to suggest that Mary was fleeing the shame of her premature pregnancy. Perhaps Elizabeth was a kindred spirit with whom Mary could share her heart. The angel had informed Mary about Elizabeth’s pregnancy. We might assume then, that it completely natural for her to visit a close relative who was both a strong believer and also expecting her first son by a miraculous birth, also announced by an angel (Luke 1: 13-19). Both women had been blessed by God in a supernatural way. I can imagine the excitement as these two women gathered together to share their news and rejoice together in God’s goodness to them both! Oh, to be a fly on the wall!
Apparently the Holy Spirit told Elizabeth that Mary’s child was the Messiah because Elizabeth called Mary “the mother of my Lord” as she greeted her. I’m sure that during Mary’s journey to Elizabeth she must have been wondering if the events of the last few days were real. Elizabeth’s greeting must have strengthened her faith as she confirmed what the angel had told her. Mary’s pregnancy may have seemed impossible, but her wise relative believe in the Lord’s faithfulness and rejoiced with Mary in her blessed condition.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Luke 1: 41 – 45
Mary responds to this prophetic message with one of her own. ‘Magnificat’ is Latin for the first word of Mary’s outpouring of praise. Her song expresses unspeakable joy and it reminds me of the Psalms. It is a song filled with hope of the Messiah to come. Mary’s song not only echoes two of Hannah’s prayers but also shows a knowledge of the law, psalms and the prophets.
I believe that we can learn a lot from the example of Mary. God is the only one that she magnified. She praises the glory and majesty of God whilst acknowledging her own lowliness. She took no credit for anything good on her self. When Mary said “From now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48) she was not being proud but rather recognising and accepting the gift that God had given her. She praised the Lord for his attributes, naming some of the chief ones specifically, including His power, his mercy, and his holiness. She confesses God as the one who has done great things for her. Her song is all about God’s greatness. Mary worshipped God from her heart. She was in awe of God’s grace towards her. She seems overwhelmed that God would do this for her. It was customary in Jewish prayers to recite God’s past faithfulness to His people. Mary followed that convention in her song in an abbreviated form. This can be seen in how she recalls how God had helped Israel, in fulfillment of all His promises. How amazing it must have felt that her child would be a living fulfillment of God’s promises. No wonder her heart overflowed with such praise!!
- Mary was willing to be available to God
- She knew and applied Old Testament scriptures and this poured out in her worship of God
- She gave God all the praise and glory for all that He had done for her and acknowledged her own lowliness as a humble servant
- At the risk of going off on a slight tangent, thinking about Mary being young in age but yet spiritually mature in her relationship with God got me thinking about:
- Where are we on the path of our journey with God? Are we still taking baby steps or are we growing in maturity in our relationship with God? To a certain extent our age is irrelevant in this regard. Are we getting a good diet of God’s word in our day to day lives? Are we committing scripture to memory so that we are equipped to deal with life, especially the challenges! God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We can also use it to build others up and to encourage.
- How do we as a church, the body of Christ, respond to our young people? Do we just see them as immature Christians? This might not be the case. Do we see them as having something to offer or teach the church? Are we encouraging them to be fully involved in the body of Christ or do we still separate them from church life much of the time? Let’s be passionate about developing positive relationships with our youth and encouraging them to play an active role in the body.There is a difference between being young in age and young in faith. Look at Mary’s example …… she may have been young in age but she demonstrated spiritually maturity and look at how God used her!
- Like Mary, let’s remember God for all that He is, for his goodness to us and his grace poured out through Jesus’ death on the cross. Let’s be people who pour out our hearts in worship for all that God has done, is doing and will do in the future!
- Let’s be willing and available to be used by God and let’s remember where our good gifts come from and use them for His glory!