Lessons from the Magnificat

Luke began his book with a meeting of two expectant mothers.  This would not be an ordinary meeting. Mary was a teenage girl overwhelmed by wonderful news. She would be the mother of the Messiah.  Elizabeth was in her 6th month of pregnancy even though she was past the child-bearing years.  She who was barren was carrying the forerunner of the Messiah. With Elizabeth, Mary hoped to find another who would understand what she was going through.  

As Mary entered Elizabeth’s house, she called out a greeting.  It was at that moment the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth greeted Mary with a blessing and affirmation.  

This was 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. 

These words made me wonder if Mary was familiar with Hannah’s prayer in I Samuel 2 which had similar phrasing.  Or if she was familiar with the Psalms as her words have the parallelism and themes for so many Psalms. Either way, Mary’s word also known as the Magnificat are a good reminder this advent of how to prepare my heart.

1. Mary’s words were focused on God not herself.

How easy it would have been for Mary to talk about what she was going through.  She might talk about how lucky she was that she was going to be the mother of the Messiah. Or she might have expressed how scared or worried she was about the next few months and what people would think. Instead her words remind us of who God is and what he has done and will do.  Her response is not about her but God.

This advent and in the coming year, how can my words be focused on God more than myself?  When do I direct attention to myself when I need to be giving God the glory?

2. Mary took time to worship.

The first two phrases were pure worship.  She worshiped with her soul and spirit.  The deepest part of her reached out to God. This was not just saying the words or going through the motions.

The busyness of the year can crowd out the things that truly matter.  One of those things is worship.  What are some ways I can take time to worship or make it more a part of my days?

3. Mary had a high view of God

Lord. Savior. Mighty. Merciful. Holy. These were all words she used to describe God. This holy God chose to bless her and she is humbled. This high view of God would bring her strength in the days ahead when life would become difficult. When she was misunderstood, she could remember that God understands. When she and her family fled to Egypt, she could remember that God brings down rulers. When she stood by the cross and her heart was breaking, she could hold onto the fact that God was her Savior, and his plan was good. 

Do I have a high view of God?  If not, why is that? How does my view of God give me strength in all seasons especially this one?

4. Mary had an accurate view of herself.

She was God’s humble servant.  He was her Lord and Savior.  She was a sinner in need of saving.  It was by God’s mercy that she was blessed.  Her job was to trust and obey this sovereign God who had chosen her to be the mother of His Son. She could not do this journey on her own. 

How did I see myself? Do I see my need of a Savior? Do I see myself as a child of God saved by his mercy? Do I truly know I can’t do life on my own without him? Is my pride getting in the way of my worship?

I hope these questions help you reflect as you prepare your heart for what God has for you this season.  TJ