Moms sing to their babies, even while they’re in the womb. In tender tones, with tender tunes, they pray for, comfort and connect with them long before birth. (Want to live dangerously? Tell an expecting Mom "it" is just a fetus, a mere embryo.) We can learn much about a Mom by overhearing her Mommy-mutterings, her lullabies to her baby.
Did you know that Mary, the mother of our Lord, wrote one of the earliest Christmas Carols? Her song, found in Luke 1:46-55, is commonly called "The Magnificat" (Latin for "glorifies"). It was her response to her older, also-pregnant cousin Elizabeth’s greeting.
Hearing Mary’s scripture-soaked song, we find it filled with theology, an incredible grasp of Israel’s history and God’s covenant promises. One sharp Lass, was she. While God’s Spirit could have helped her say this spontaneously, it makes me wonder if it was Mary’s Mommy song, her well thought out and rehearsed gift she sang to yet-born Jesus.
Speculations aside, Mary’s words of praise – as we sing along - help us magnify and enlarge the Lord in our lives as His humble servants. To aid our sing-along, here are the words from Luke 1:46-55:
And Mary said: "My soul exalts [magnifies] the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
"For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
"For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
"AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION
TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.
"He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
"He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
"HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
"He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever." (NASB)
Hear her theme? The Lord is to be magnified and rejoiced over in our lives! As He caused her body to enlarge in pregnancy, she enlarged her heart of praise. While He distended her tummy, she extended His rule, swelled in her love and submission to Him.
Mary gives ample reasons to expand His place in our lives. The first stanza (vs. 46-48) speaks of God being mindful of the lowly, having regard for nobodies. Mary is Exhibit "A" of the socially invisible of her day: a young girl, a Jew (an oppressed people), from a nowhere place and family. If God was looking for an under-qualified, He done good.
Yet, God remembers and cares for the overlooked and oppressed. As Abraham Lincoln said, God must love the common man, because He made so many of them. God sees and has compassion on the hurting, the left out and left behind.
This is great news when we understand our spiritual status apart from Jesus: spiritually lost, blind and dead. We are justly damned sinners, who are hopelessly alienated from and even hostile to God. Talk about lowly - yikes and yuck!
Yet, as He did for Mary, God blesses us with gifts; eternal endowments. Mary became the mother of the Messiah, perpetually honored among women. We who were lost are found, forgiven, adopted, given spiritual life and sight (devour Ephesians 1:3-5; John 1:10-14; 5:24; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
Yes! The Lord is to be magnified and rejoiced over in our lives because He is mindful of the lowly and – second stanza – He is merciful to those who fear Him (vs. 49-50). Mercy is undeserved kindness, pity and compassion. It is what the condemned want and need; to be spared deserved punishment.
Singing about God’s mercy, Mary strikes a central chord in Israel’s history and hope. His acts of kindness and love were brought most fully to life by the Messiah’s coming. Careful: mercy does not betray a weakness in God. Don’t confuse kindness with weakness. As His mom sings, "He is mighty." It takes might to show mercy: to forgive,
rescue, provide and protect.
Mercy is not just feeling sorry for us, a passive pity. Both merciful and mighty, God "does great things." Mary would love this passage: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5 - ESV).
His is a holy mercy, too, not a compromising, sloppy sentimentalism. Read Paul’s take on mercy and justice in Romans 3:21-26. For God to demonstrate His righteousness, Jesus died in our place (mercy). That allows Him to be both just and the justifier of the ones who have faith in Jesus. Holy mercy!
Such mercy, Mary sings, is ongoing for those who fear Him (i.e. honor and obey; see Deuteronomy 5:10 & 7:9). Thus, Hebrews 4:16 invites: "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (NKJV).
Finishing Mary’s sweet serenade, the Lord is to be magnified because He is muscular on behalf of His humble people (vs. 51-55). The LORD God’s meaty and mighty right arm protects His own and swings at those who oppose Him.
God scatters and brings down the proud. Rulers, who think they’re invincible, answer to Him. If not in this life, there is a payday some day (Hebrews 9:27; Philippians 2:5-11).
Since God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6-10) it follows that we should humble ourselves before His mighty hand so He can exalt us (1 Peter 5:5-9). Mary is again a great example of this, as was Moses, as is Jesus. Are we?
Listen to His Mother! God helps His covenant people (vs. 54, 55). Just as He kept His covenant with Abraham, so too with the humble of all ages. Want God to scatter or dethrone you? Stay proud, self-reliant. Want God on your side, to be exalted? Be one of His humble people: believe in, call upon Him (Genesis 15:6; Romans 10:8-13; Galatians 4).
Mindful of the lowly, merciful to those who fear Him, mighty on behalf of His humble people, no wonder Mary sang! And so must we, enlarging His presence in our lives, extending His rule and imprint.
Is He growing in you? Are you showing? Is there "that glow" about you (Colossians 1:27)? Do you let Him impregnate every area of your life, knowing you will never be the same? Is He your God, your Savior? Are you His bondslave? He knows your state of life, your hardships and deepest needs, and He cares for you. Rejoice in His eternal blessings! Magnify the Lord!