And Mary said,“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of Mary in the Christmas narrative – particularly spurred on by the words of this song. “Do you wonder, as you watch my face...if a wiser one should have had my place?” Those words ring so true in my own heart, and it helps rouse me out of the commercial, sanitized, Christmas spell we seem to all get under every now and then. We see so many depictions of a serene Mary, much older than twelve or thirteen, usually with a much lighter shade of skin, smiling and clean and content, comforting a beautiful baby boy whom she believed to be her Messiah. But then I remember that the night we celebrate during the Christmas season was much different than that. This young woman had had a very turbulent – and can we just admit—traumatizing year. It began with a visit from an angel, and then being told she, though a virgin, was to conceive by the Holy Spirit the long awaited Messiah. We can confidently say the context of her life in first century Nazareth was not welcoming whatsoever to this news. She was a woman, unwed, engaged to be married, poor, obscure, and completely powerless. When she heard those words of announcement in Luke 1:28-37, we can only imagine what thoughts and feelings flooded her. Shock. Amazement. Fear. Hope. Because of the Mosaic Law she, at worst, was at risk of being stoned to death; at the very least, being maligned and becoming an outcast in her community. But, then again, who in all of history had been given this immeasurable honor of bearing, delivering, and raising the Son of God?
as I have read and thought on these things, I feel my limits in fully relating
to her. Yes, I know what it feels like to be pregnant; to feel the first time
your baby moves in your womb and the thrill it produces. Yes, I know what childbirth
is like and what raising children is like. But she’s right when she said she
will be called blessed through all generations – no one has ever walked in her
shoes, nor will ever again. She was chosen to literally bear Jesus the Messiah,
and to experientially bear suffering for Him, in living out the role she was
it isn’t that she was sinless, or even the obvious first candidate of anyone in
that day to be given such an honor. We know little about her, except that her
response to such an incredible message was, “Behold, I am the servant of the
Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” We see, as she is pressed in the
furthering of her pregnancy, a sweet fragrance pour out in her song in Luke 1:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” And,
although it isn’t inerrant Scripture by any means, I hear the sentiment in this
song of her feeling unworthy, humbled, and afraid, pleading with the Lord to
“hold her together”.
glory of God in the story of Jesus’ birth is encapsulated in Mary’s
perspective. We behold the intention of the Father to make His Son’s
much-anticipated entrance in the least likely of places. We see an obscure,
uninfluential town called Nazareth under the spotlight. We see a young girl,
full of faith, become an example of the humble being exalted. We see the birth
of Christ in the midst of meager accommodations, and the first people it is
announced to be lonely, overlooked shepherds!
May this part of the picture serve to center our hearts around our good Father. May it be yet another facet of the Christmas story that causes our hearts to worship. May we think on the unassuming people He chose to bring it about and be filled with awe. May we read their words and wonder at their depth of joy, and seek to experience it, too!
We are recipients of the same grace that Mary sang of: “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he sent away empty.”
We are just as unlikely as Mary to be sought out and chosen and honored by Him – and yet, we are! We will not experience carrying Jesus in our womb, and yet, through Him, we have His Spirit dwelling inside of us! Yes, may He be magnified through the telling and retelling of His beautiful story!