Summary: God chose Mary to birth the Savior of the world. This message looks at Mary's song, her Magnficat, and examines her love of scripture, her love for God, and her humble spirit. Mary calls each of us to magnify God at work in and around us.
The Christmas story begins with a young girl named Mary. Today we would call her just a teen, an adolescent. Back then, in ancient Israel, she was of marrying age, blooming into a young woman. Who was this Mary? Why was she full of song? And why has every generation since called her blessed?
A lot of very special events led up to today’s passage. The angel Gabriel showed up unexpectedly and told Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Perhaps Gabriel sensed her discomfort so he suggested an ally. He told her, “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age” (Luke 1:36). Elizabeth’s baby would be none other than John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah.
Two supernatural child births involving a woman too old and a woman too young and too unmarried. Beth Moore writes, “How like God! In the middle of news with universal consequences he recognized the personal consequences to one girl!” (“Jesus the One and Only”) God knows every detail of your life. He is never too busy running the universe to pay dear attention to your ever need. That’s the kind of God we have!
At Elizabeth’s, Mary receives confirmation that everything is true, that this angelic visit isn’t just a figment of her imagination. At their initial meet, Elizabeth almost yells in excitement, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:42-45). How good this must have felt to revel in God’s divine mystery with a kindred spirit.
The very next scripture is our passage today, what scholars refer to as “Mary’s song,” or the “Magnificat,” which is the Latin word for “magnify,” the first word in the Latin text. To magnify is to glorify, to make much of God. Out of Mary’s song we see some attributes of this young woman who makes much of God. First, we notice ...
1. Mary’s love of scripture. She quotes some ten different passages of Old Testament scripture in her song. Mary obviously knew and loved the word of God. One of the passages she draws on the most is a similar song by another Jewish woman, recorded in 1 Samuel chapter 2. Hannah was barren for many years, and like many Jewish women, her greatest desire was to have a child. In fact, she prayed so fervently at the Temple that the old priest Eli thought she was drunk. But she explained that she had not had a drop to drink; she was simply desperate for God to answer her prayer. Eli assured her that God had indeed answered it, and sure enough, after years of barrenness, Hannah and her husband Elkanah finally were able to have a child. That child became a famous prophet of Israel and a maker of kings, the wise prophet Samuel. Following his birth, Hannah burst into song, much like Mary’s song.
Mary certainly knows Hannah’s story. And though parts of their stories were different, Mary identifies with Hannah’s joy and her love for God. And that brings us to a second attribute of Mary,
2. Her love of God. Mary doesn’t just love the Word of God; she also loves the God of the Word. Mary is sold out. When the angel Gabriel first brings his shocking news of a baby to be conceived by the Holy Spirit, Mary simply responds, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38). The word “servant” means “bond-servant or slave.” A slave’s only purpose is to fulfill the desire of the master. Kind of like in the military job description, they like to throw in that bottom line, “Other duties as assigned.” Put another way, “whatever the master wants or needs.” Mary says, “My purpose is to serve God, period.”
Mary’s will is caught up in God’s will. In her song, she refers to God as her Lord, her Savior, the Mighty One, holy, merciful, performing mighty deeds, scattering the proud, bringing down rulers and lifting up the humble, filling the hungry, sending the selfish rich away empty-handed, and keeping his promises to Israel, his chosen people.
Mary loves God with all her heart, all her soul, all her mind, and all her strength. She loves God more than anything. And because of such devotion, God chooses her for a great honor.