Open Your Bible
Luke 1:39-56, Psalm 107:1-9, Luke 6:20-22
BY Erin Davis
The first Christmas I had a son of my own, the song “Mary Did You Know” unraveled me. I’d sung the words at plenty of Christmas services and always imagined Mary in sepia tones with a serene expression. But then I carried a child inside my very own body and delivered him into a terrifying world, just like Mary did, and suddenly I saw her differently.
It was jarring to look again at her story in Scripture and realize Mary did not know.
The angel Gabriel was brief in his description of how her life was about to change. So she knew she was going to have a baby, conceived by the Holy Spirit, who would be the Savior of mankind—the rest of the details were a little fuzzy. But when Mary arrived at her cousin Elizabeth’s house, the mood was celebratory. The babies were leaping, the mamas were squealing, and the occasion was one of great joy.
Mary didn’t yet know that her betrothed Joseph would make plans to leave her (Matthew 1:18). She couldn’t foresee that her child would one day go missing for three days (Luke 2:41–52). The angel didn’t tell Mary that her boy would be arrested and falsely accused of crimes against the state (John 18). It would’ve been impossible for her to imagine that the baby in her belly would be tortured, humiliated, and executed on a criminal’s cross while she stood by and watched, helpless (John 19:25).
Mary didn’t know any of that. But she did know the character of God.
After the angel stopped speaking, and Elizabeth stopped gushing, Mary had an outburst of her own, the tone of which is so different from anything else we hear from her in Scripture, I’m convinced she was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:46–55, known as the Magnificat (Latin for “magnify”), or “Mary’s Song,” is an utterance of praise. For verse after verse, line after line, Mary doesn’t focus on herself; instead she praises God for who He is:
He is the Mighty One.
He has done great things.
His name is holy.
He is merciful.
He has done mighty deeds.
He has toppled the mighty
He has exalted the humble.
He keeps His promises.
It may sound cliché, but it’s certainly true: Mary did not know what the future held. But she knew who held the future together in His hands. Because her life was built on the bedrock truth of God’s character, she could lay down her “yes,” trusting God in moments of both supernatural joy and deep, human grief (John 19:25–27).
Mary’s story is not about us any more than Jesus’s arrival was about her, but I can’t help but want to be more like her. So many of God’s promises to me are crystal clear: He will finish the work He started in me (Philippians 1:6), He will return for His bride (Revelation 1:7), He will wipe away every tear from my eyes (Revelation 21:4). Still, there are other details about this life that remain “fuzzy,” so to speak. I don’t know what tomorrow holds or what brand of suffering waits round the bend. But I do know the character of God.
He is more than enough reason for my whole life to become an utterance of praise unto Him. This Advent season may our hearts overflow with a magnificat of our own, praising God for who He’s always been, and who He promises to always be.