October 16, 2017

Lessons from the Magnificat

Can you imagine the emotion that roiled through Mary’s heart, as she anticipated giving birth to the great Messiah?

On the one hand, she must have been awed by the thought that Almighty God would choose her, a simple maiden, to bear His Son. That He would choose her to bring old prophecies to pass. That He would choose her to help change the course of the world’s future.

On the other hand, she must have been overwhelmed by her situation. Here she was, betrothed to the man she loved (similar to the modern engagement, although much more binding), and all of sudden pregnant. Of course, back in that day, pregnancy outside of marriage was punishable by death!

Can you imagine the courage that Mary and Joseph had? To withstand the sure scorn of their families, the disapproval of their rabbis, the mocking jeers of their friends?

After all, would you have believed that your neighbor was pregnant by the Holy Spirit? Would you have scorned your friend for claiming he hadn’t been intimate with his girl, even though she had a very obviously protruding belly?

I’m awed by their examples. 

It’s almost no wonder that sinful man tries to worship Mary. She was a great example of steadfast faith in God, of faithfulness to His will, of divine grace and fortitude. And Joseph too, was wise and faithful. And humble, too, in his willingness to be used of God in that way.

But of course, we know that Mary was just as human as you and I are. She was a sinner too. She was born with Adam’s inherent sinful nature, and it was only through her Son’s death on the cross, that she could be redeemed and considered righteous.

Mary was a sinner. But she was a humble sinner, who had an unwavering confidence in God.

Consider Luke 1. 

After Mary was visited by Gabriel, and received the prophecy that she would give birth through the Spirit’s power to the holy Messiah, she went on a visit to her cousin Elizabeth. And Elizabeth had also received a prophecy — she would give birth in her old age to a son named John, who would prepare the way for the coming Savior.

When Elizabeth met Mary at the door to their lodging, her baby jumped for joy in her womb. And Elizabeth herself was overcome with the Holy Spirit, and proclaimed a blessing over Mary. But consider Mary’s response:

 

“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 has 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.”

 

This passage, often called The Magnificat, is one of my favorite passages in the Gospels. Look again at how Mary puts her focus on God alone: her soul glorifies Him, and her spirit rejoices in Him.

She did not claim any glory for herself; rather, she proclaimed the great holiness and mercy of God toward those who fear Him.

That brings to mind the book of Proverbs, where it tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is insight {Proverbs 9:10}. And that in the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence {Proverbs 14:26}.

 

Mary’s greatest attribute was that she feared God.

She bowed before Him in humble reverence, acknowledging her own depravity. Admitting her own rebellious heart. Accepting that she could do nothing outside the power of God.

And that, dear friends, is what brings great blessing for us as well. Not necessarily situational blessing, not status or comfort or ease. But spiritual blessings, from the depths of our spiritual riches in the heavenly realms {see Ephesians 1}.

So what can we learn from the Magnificat, this rich offering of praise that flowed from Mary’s lips?

Not that Mary was some great saint. Not that she was more favored than you or I could ever be. Not that she had something we didn’t…

The Magnificat teaches us the value of humility. It offers an example of the blessings that come to the one who walks circumspectly, according to God’s instruction. It reminds us of the honor bestowed by God on those who truly fear Him.

So when you look at the manger scene in your living room, when you consider the little figurines that symbolize Mary and Joseph and the Baby — remember the Magnificat.

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.*

{tweet that!} 

QUESTION for YOU: How is your pride getting in the way of receiving God’s blessings? How are you growing in the fear of God and walking humbly before Him today?

*Proverbs 15:33

 

Comments

  1. Beautiful blog! Visiting you today from The Fontenot Four and Thankful Thursday