Commentary by Walter Albritton

                                   December 7, 2008


Mary’s Commitment is an Example to Us All


Luke 1:26-38, 46-55


Key Verse: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” – Luke 1:46-47   


God is known for doing the unexpected. Choosing Mary to be the mother of God is our example of the week. Mary was a nobody, young and poor. Like most women of her time, she had no status. She was from a village known only to prophets. Yet God plucked her out of nowhere for a special assignment.

Mary’s pregnancy was odd to say the least. An angel announced it to her. How often does that happen? Not just any angel but the angel Gabriel. The angel explained to Mary that her pregnancy would not result from sexual intercourse with a man. The Holy Spirit would be responsible.

And Mary’s baby would be no ordinary baby. Gabriel explained that her son would be “the holy one,” and called “the Son of God.” We would not be surprised to read that Mary replied, “Are you kidding?” But, of course, according to Luke, she made no such reply. Gabriel tried to assuage her doubt by explaining that “nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary’s response is remarkable. In a spirit of total surrender to the will of God, Mary says to Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Little wonder then that Mary’s commitment has become such a powerful example to believers in every age.

Did Mary’s commitment waver? We cannot help but wonder. She remained in poverty. Her status did not change because she was to become the mother of God.

Shunning kings and castles, God arranges for the Messiah to be born in a barn. Considering her situation, perhaps Mary wondered out loud to Joseph, “Is this what it means to be favored by God?” Luke will not allow us to suppose Mary asked such a question.

Instead Luke insists that Mary’s attitude is summed up in her song, the Magnificat, when she says, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Herein is her awesome example.

In these days we are not likely to express our commitment to God with such lofty words. That is why a modern translator like Eugene Peterson (The Message) is so helpful. Here is how he gives us Mary’s song:

 46-55And Mary said,

   I'm bursting with God-news;
      I'm dancing the song of my Savior God.
      God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
      I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!
   What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
      the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
   His mercy flows in wave after wave
      on those who are in awe before him.
   He bared his arm and showed his strength,
      scattered the bluffing braggarts.
   He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
      pulled victims out of the mud.
   The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
      the callous rich were left out in the cold.
   He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
      he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
   It's exactly what he promised,
      beginning with Abraham and right up to now.


How can Mary’s example help us today? It should remind us that God uses ordinary people in unexpected ways. We can expect God to call upon us to serve him in the trenches, in the ordinary affairs of daily life. We can learn to see God “with us” when we do simple things with love – like taking soup to a sick friend, visiting a lonely person in a nursing home, sending a blanket to a soldier, or giving support for an orphan in Zambia.

Mary was enthusiastic about being God’s servant. She made no demands upon God but was content to do his will even in a lowly stable. If we are willing we can do “small things with great love” so that God can use our ordinary lives to accomplish his will today. Rather than complain we can follow Mary’s example and say, “Whatever it takes, Lord, I am ready to be your servant.” God will honor that spirit and use us as he did Mary.

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