Monday Devotions – Mary’s Song

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. (Lk. 1:46-48a ESV) Yesterday, Grant Layman, one of the pastors at my church, gave an outstanding message from Luke 1:39-56, called Mary’s Song. He focused on Mary’s circumstances, Mary’s character, and Mary’s God. I was raised as a Roman Catholic, and have long since dealt with an unbiblical exaltation of Mary’s role in God’s plan of salvation. She was not immaculately conceived, she was not perpetually sinless, and she is definitely not a co-mediator with Jesus. But during the message yesterday, I was freshly reminded of Mary’s example in humbly submitting to God’s plan for her life. And what a plan it was! God sends an angel to tell a obscure young girl, maybe all of 13 years, that she is to bear the Savior of the world. How would you respond to such an announcement? (If you’re a guy, think about Joseph…) Three lessons stand out to me in the verse referenced above. It’s the first line from the Mary’s prayer commonly referred to as “The Magnificat.” “My soul magnifies the Lord.” To magnify means to make something look bigger than it appears to our eyes. We use a telescope or a set of binoculars to magnify objects that are far away. Magnifying doesn’t make those objects bigger, but helps us to see them as they truly are. Mary could have magnified a few other things when Gabriel broke the news to her. “Who’s going to believe a thirteen year old girl who says she’s pregnant by God? What will the neighbors think? How will I explain this to Joseph? Will he divorce me once he finds out? What will this mean for my future?” Mary could have magnified these and a thousand other fears. But instead of allowing her thoughts to drift to what she didn’t know, she reflected on what she DID know. My God is good. He is kind. He is faithful to His promises. He is answering the prayers of His people. God is merciful. How do I respond when I receive unexpected news? What do I magnify? My circumstances, anxieties and questions – or the Lord? “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Mary didn’t simply accept God’s will with a sense of dutiful determination. “Well, if someone has to bear the Messiah, it might as well be me.” She was overjoyed that God had called her to this unique role in salvation history. But her joy was rooted not so much in her favored status as in God Himself. “My spirit rejoices in GOD my Savior.” How often my joy springs from my position, or the way God seems to be using me. When either of those change, so does my attitude. Mary’s joy was secure, grounded in the never changing faithful love of her God and Savior. “For he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.” Mary had an exalted view of God, not herself. Her response is an example for us because she didn’t consider herself special, unique, or in any way worthy of the honor that God had bestowed on her. She didn’t think, “I must be some kind of woman for God to trust me with this assignment!” No, she understood that God using her was due to His mercy, not her competence. As Grant shared in his message, “God specializes in using humble ordinary people whose limitations and weaknesses make them ideal showcases for His greatness and glory.” Ordinary, limited, and weak. I fit well into those categories. And lest we think that God has changed whom He uses, Mary goes on to say, “His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” (Lk. 1:50) If my life bears any fruit today, if I am able to overcome any difficulty, if I am able to find joy in the midst of trial – it is because God has looked upon my feeble frame and shown me mercy through His precious Son. May our proclamation today and every day be, “He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Lk. 1:49)

4 Responses to Monday Devotions – Mary’s Song

  1. Whit Roberts December 12, 2005 at 10:53 AM #

    Thank you so much for posting this on Mary and Pr. Grant’s sermon! I have studied Mary for the past few years. Pr. Grant’s sermon, to-date, is the best sermon (and the best summary) that I have heard on Blessed Mary. He focused on God’s work in her life regarding her strong faith (and as a result, willing and immediate submission to God) and other godly attributes. He nicely explained how honored and blessed Mary is (the most blessed of women), but Grant, like under-shepherd caring for the flock, warned against the 4 heresies out there: the Immaculate Conception, the Dormition, the Assumption, and the Queen of Heaven/Co-Mediator/Co-Redeemer. He mentioned that the Perpetual Virginity of Mary was error (though Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli believed in Mary’s Perpetual Virginity). For more on those 4 heresies and 1 error, I would recommend “The Roman Catholic Controversy” by Reformed Baptist Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries. Personally, the sermon has convicted me of how stubborn (the fruit of pride) I am at times to submit to God or fail to rejoice in God as Mary did. I want to follow Christ as Mary did in her faith, ready and willing submission, and her passionate praise of God.

  2. Danielle December 12, 2005 at 12:49 PM #

    Thanks for this meditation on Mary’s response to the angel’s news that she’d bear the Messiah. This passage has often been the source of my own prayers, that my response to the Lord would echo hers: ““My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.” What a prayer to use as our own!

  3. James Paul December 13, 2005 at 3:13 AM #

    What a wonderful word, Bob. Thank you.

    This evening at the dinner table our family discussed from Matthew the miraculous feeding of the multitudes. Our 16 year old, Cassia, remembered learning that a boy brought 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to Jesus. A humble beginning which led to a miraculous finis.

    I asked the kids which was better:

    1. Christians who don’t think they have anything to offer God.

    2. Chrisitans who know they have more to offer God than most.

    It was a trick question. The answer we discovered together was that God is the one who makes a life valuable. And as we take our place in a long line of humble sojourners, magnifying and praising a God who gave Himself up for us, our contributions will we graciously placed alongside those of little boys and young ladies who found favor with God.

  4. Matt Drago December 13, 2005 at 9:50 AM #

    Bob, I have really enjoyed your blog, thanks for taking time to do this! I was really convicted by the fact that Mary rejoiced in God her Savior, not in her position. I was a great reminder to me, to find my joy in my God and not in where I’m being used! Thanks again!

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