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 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has been mindful
of the humble state of His servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is His name.
His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as He promised our ancestors.”
Luke 1:46-55
Points to Ponder:
It has been said that few pieces of poetry in Scripture are more beautiful than the Magnificant, or Mary’s Song, recorded in Luke 1:46-55. While her words themselves are a beautiful tribute to God in their own right, one’s consideration of the circumstances in which Mary found herself when she uttered these words lend an enhanced sense of wonder to the entire situation.
According to the customs of her day and culture, Mary would have been around the age of 14 years at this time, a typical age for girls to become wives through arranged marriages. Scripture confirms that she was engaged to Joseph (Matthew 1:18). That she was a virgin. And that an angel visited her with the news that, through divine means of the Holy Spirit, Mary would conceive and give birth to Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Luke 1:29-38). In the wake of this unusual and unexpected turn of events, her demeanor was one of jubilance, rejoicing and bringing glory to Jehovah, God of Israel.
Pause with me here for a moment if you will as we think about the reality of what lay in store for this young girl’s life. Let’s roleplay for a bit. Try to imagine yourself in Mary’s sandals. Your parents have spent your life making the right social connections to secure your future as wife of a respectable man from a respectable family because arranged marriages are the norm of the day. As a result, you’re now engaged, the wedding garment has been made and guests – who have been friends of family for generations – are anxiously anticipating their invitations to the ceremony. And now you go to your parents and tell them an angel says their daughter is pregnant. With God’s Son. And that, by the way, the baby was immaculately conceived.
Over the years, I’ve reached the conclusion that there was no way that Mary – and likely her parents – could have had a successful discussion about these events without direct and divine intervention from the Holy Spirit. In a Jewish culture with sound morals and strong religious convictions, Mary would otherwise have faced strong repercussions and probable death. We sense the dire urgency of the situation from Joseph’s concern for her safety when he heard of her pregnancy (Matthew 1:19). Furthermore, Mary herself would have known well that her life would be at stake because of her pregnancy. And who on earth would believe the story of how it all came to be? Her family would be the laughingstock of little Nazareth for years to come.
Somehow, though, her response in the face of what likely seemed an impossible situation was basically to God be the glory. How could she display such a joyous attitude at a time like this? Was the poor girl blissfully ignorant? A careful look at her words in today’s passage show blissful ignorance to be anything but the case. The truth is that Mary knew her God and His Word through the Old Testament. She knew Him and His Word so well, in fact, that she devotes roughly three-quarters of the Magnificant to praising and glorifying Him for His promises made to Abraham and kept to the nation of Israel.
Perhaps in a haze of shock and disbelief about her new position in life, this was the only response she was able to make. Or maybe the response was a deliberate answer born of steadfast faith in God. Either way, her heart knew God and knew His Word. That knowledge enabled her to look backward to the fulfillment of His past promises, which I believe in turn enabled to look forward with expectant excitement to His promise of the coming Messiah, Whom He would deliver through her.
You and I have a unique opportunity to follow Mary’s example, but only when we love and know the Father, Son and Holy Spirit so fully that we commit to keeping ourselves in Scripture on a regular basis. Being able to call to mind the promises already fulfilled by God strengthens and balances us as we anticipate Christ’s second coming even in the most unclear times of our lives and glorifies Him in the process.
– Copyright 2016, Carole Anne Hallyburton. All Rights Reserved.
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Focus for Reflection:
Can you recall a circumstance in your life when you found it difficult to see that God would be glorified? If so, reflect briefly on the details and your reaction to the circumstance.
Do the words of Mary’s Song in any way alter your mindset n regard to how you will wait expectantly for Christ’s second coming, even when situations seem impossible?
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