|Luke 1:46-56||Read Online|
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.
—Luke 1:54-55 (HCSB)
At the beginning of the school year, I told my 16-year-old daughter I was going to get up early and fix a hot breakfast every Friday for her. Her comment was, “I like it. A new and improved mom.”
That Friday, I whipped up a stack of steaming pancakes, scrambled some eggs, and blended a fruit smoothie. I even got a “Thanks, Mom!” The next Friday, I lumbered down the stairs and there sat my daughter eating a bowl of cold cereal. I forgot!
In our passage today, we hear the strains of Mary’s song praising a Mighty God who mercifully remembers. The first word in the Latin translation of this passage is magnificat, which literally means to “enlarge.” This Bible translation captures Mary’s heart as she rejoices, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”
But how did Mary go from being “greatly troubled” (Luke 1:29) to proclaiming the greatness of the Lord? Somewhere during the long trip from Nazareth to Elizabeth’s home, Mary must’ve pulled Old Testament scriptures to the forefront of her mind as she pondered her own question to Gabriel, “How could this be?”
She no sooner stepped over the threshold of Zechariah’s house than Elizabeth confirmed the impossible. She said Mary was “the mother of my LORD.” Immediately, the puzzle pieces came together fast and furious, interlocking promises that spanned hundreds of years, all pointing to the promised Messiah.
Old Testament scriptures tumbled from Mary’s mouth—a fountain of praise, promises, and prophecies. The puzzle was nowhere near complete, but enough of it was unveiled so Mary could view the bigger picture of God’s plan.
In the last two verses of this praise song, Mary touts a promise that God would mercifully remember Abraham and his descendants forever. She marveled that the birth of her child, God’s Son, was a fulfillment of the covenant promises to Abraham and his people.
In sending Jesus to be born, God mercifully remembered His promises to unfaithful Israel, Abraham and His descendants, you and me, and those who are in Christ Jesus.
Don’t you think Mary clung to that promise as she journeyed back home, her pregnancy now visibly showing? Though Israel was fickle and forgot, God remembered. When we’re fickle and forget, you can be assured God still mercifully remembers.
- When did it become clear for you that Jesus is the promised Messiah? If this is not true for you, what puzzle piece do you think is still missing?
- When was the last time you broke out in praise? What were the circumstances prompting it?
- What does it mean to you that God mercifully remembers?
- If you could write your own “magnificat,” what would you sing?