We have lifted our hands in heartfelt surrender as we admired her faith. We have run myriad miles with her, breathing deeply the sigh of relief as we experienced her safe place. Now we raise our voices in song and our hearts in prayer yet again as we study her praise. What an estimable companion Mary has been as we have traversed together through the Christmas season.
Best known as "The Magnificat” or Mary’s Song of Praise in Luke 1:46-55, an even deeper dimension of Mary’s faith and trust in God is revealed. Of great import is the context surrounding Mary’s song. Elizabeth had just blessed her and the Babe within her womb. Likely Mary still had unanswered questions concerning the consequences that awaited her in Nazareth with her family and with Joseph.
What is our knee-jerk response when we are thrust into a situation beyond our control? Do we worry, or do we worship? One of the most beautiful elements of Mary’s song of praise is that she truly worshipped. She understood that worship is warfare. Such a concept is desperately needed in our world today. Those around us, whether believers or not, need to hear our honest worship of our worthy God.
It has been my experience that Muslims are captivated by our worship of Jesus; they are drawn into the mystery of someone worshipping a personal God Whom they cannot conceive of as being Immanuel. This is truly the essence of the Babe within Mary’s womb as she uttered her beautiful song of praise: He is our Immanuel, God with us.
Because it is believed that Mary was poor and uneducated, the elevated language used in her song of praise can only be seen as a work of the Holy Spirit. Her song echoes Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2 as well as snippets of King David’s psalms, referring to twelve different Old Testament passages in all. Her poem of praise recounts God’s faithfulness to Israel. A series of reversals is given: the proud will be humbled, and the humbled will be exalted. Perhaps the most notable is that of a poor girl being chosen as the mother of the Messiah. In all of this, Mary never exalted nor blessed herself; rather, she always pointed to the glory of her great God.
Mary knew the Name of the Child within her, that He was God come to save. She confessed her faith in Him and His ability to save. Mary knew that God had not forgotten His people. Even after their exile in Babylon and 400 years of silence (there had been no prophets proclaiming His Word during that time), He had embraced His chosen servant and was bringing about the redemption of the whole world. Her song of praise foreshadows themes addressed later in the Gospel of Luke and in Jesus’ ministry.
Sometimes we can hardly see beyond two or three generations, yet God gave Mary a glimpse into all of eternity. She set an example for us, denoting what it means to love and serve God, to live with divine purpose, to put Him above all else, and to glorify Him with everything within us.
What would happen today if we worshipped instead of worried? If we used our worship as a tool to point others to Him, especially Muslims? Like Mary, may our eyes truly see beyond the here and now to gaze upon the eternal importance of the task ahead. Wherever our Christmas celebrations find us, may the ears of those gathered around hear us singing Mary’s song, exalting God with all our soul. Truly such will change the world.