To be sure, the focus of the Christmas story is Jesus, and He is the only character in the story worthy of worship. Yet there is much to be learned from the others who played a role in the unfolding drama of Christ’s birth. Mary, for example, serves as a faithful lesson of trust in the Lord, even when God’s plan doesn’t seem to make sense.
We must remember that Mary was thrust into a very difficult position. In an instant, her trust in the Lord was tested, her emotions unsettled, and her social standing, precarious. Indeed she was given an incredible privilege, but not one without significant struggles. If she was presumed to have been unfaithful to Joseph, he had the right to divorce her at the very least and to condemn her publicly if he so desired. Mary’s own family could have rejected her and essentially left her with a lifetime of begging for survival. Yet our God, in His sovereignty, chose the right people with hearts that trusted Him to fulfill His great plan. He would not be thwarted by unwilling spirits or social customs of the day. Our God is never concerned for the outcome!
Despite facing the doubts of those who would hear her story, Mary chose to be submissive to the Lord’s plan. She did not consult with anyone nor ask for time to consider her response. Her obedient spirit is conveyed in the answer she gives to Gabriel as she says with trembling faith, "Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). While the heart of the Christmas story celebrates the fact that God sent His only Son to earth, it is also a picture of obedient and submissive worshipers acknowledging and following the leadership of their Maker. There is much to be learned from their example.
Mary believed the word of the Lord and trusted in His plan. Think of all she did not yet know. She had no idea how Joseph would respond. She could not conceive what the response of her parents would be. Would her closest friends lose faith in her? Would those in her community slander her behind her back? All of these worries plus so many more could have taken root in her mind, eventually growing and choking out the faith she held in God’s plan.
But despite all the uncertainty, she believed. If the Lord were in this, surely He would make a way. Mary did not need to have all the answers in order to believe in the Lord. She only needed to know she belonged to Him. Mary’s submissive spirit is evidence of her belief in her God. She vows that she is the servant of the Lord. This is no easy vow. Her submission to her Master will cost her much. But her confidence in God far outweighed her concerns for herself. She chose to trust in His word and rest in His plan. She told Him so in a beautiful prayer of worship.
The prayer of praise in Luke 1 is one of the most moving in all of Scripture. It is known as the Magnificat (named after the Latin translation of the first Greek word that appears in the prayer). "My soul magnifies the Lord," is the response of a sincere young girl. Her mind, chaotic with many questions, is comforted as her heart is calmed with one answer: God is trustworthy!
Much of Mary’s prayer comes from the Old Testament Scripture that she obviously knew well. As she lifts her heart to extol the Lord, she draws from 1 Samuel 1:1-2, Psalm 24:8, 34, 103:17, 107, 138, and Isaiah 41. In fact, there are a dozen different Old Testament passages used in her song. The words of Scripture that she had been taught had penetrated her mind and settled deep within her heart. She finds comfort in God’s Word and then turns the Scripture she knows into an expression of worship. Mary exhibited confidence in her Lord and knowledge of His Word as she positioned herself to be used for God’s glory. Rightly did the angel Gabriel greet her as "favored one." Oh, that we, too, would memorize God’s Word and meditate deeply on the truths it contains as we pour out our worship to Him.
(this is an excerpt from Christmas: God's Greatest Gift by Michael)
"Christmas: God's Greatest Gift" is a new book Michael has written that walks through the Christmas story and the hope of the gospel. To purchase a copy, click here and mention how many copies you'd like and where you'd like them shipped. To request prayer, please click here.