After the angel told Mary she had been chosen to carry the Son of God into the world, she went to visit her relative Elizabeth, who herself was experiencing a miraculous conception with John the Baptist. After the two ladies shared their experiences with one another, Mary burst forth in a song of praise. This hymn is known as The Magnificat, taken from the Latin rendering of the opening phrase, “my soul magnifies [the Lord].”
In Luke 1:46-55 we read her words, saturated with Old Testament language, intended to demonstrate how good God was to her, and to her people Israel. One phrase from the Magnificat says, “for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name (v.49).” I love that Mary introduces this song with the word magnifies; she used her words as a magnifying glass to help us get a better picture of her God.
Did you ever play with a magnifying glass when you were little? Like Sherlock Holmes, I pretended to be a detective on the hunt for clues, putting my magnifying glass on anything I could find. I recently downloaded a magnifying glass app that uses my phone’s camera lens to zoom in on things. If you have noticed that the print on your page seems to be getting a little smaller, you might invest in magnification to assist you in your reading. A good magnifying glass can make things come to life, as things missed by the naked eye jump out at us.
Mary’s glad heart was magnifying the Lord, so she used her words to help us see what she was seeing. In her song she emphasizes her lowliness and God’s holiness; Mary was not perfect and did not become divine. She even referred to God as her Savior (v.47). Only sinners need saving, so Mary lumps herself in with fallen humanity. She magnified God because He offers salvation to those who put their trust in Him, noting, “and His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation (v.50).”
Mary said that God had done great things for her. What sort of great things had He done for Mary? Here’s the thing: we don’t know much about Mary’s life. But without having a biography of this young girl, I can deduce a few great things God had done. Mary had a roof over her head, clothes on her back, food on her table, and air in her lungs. These daily blessings are often taken for granted, but they are great things from God. Mary also had a godly fiancé in Joseph and what we would call a Christian upbringing. She knew Scripture, as her song indicates. Those are great things from God.
We like the big, flashy miracles from God, but we need to remember that not all of God’s blessings are immaculate conceptions. There are a handful of once-in-a-lifetime great things, but let us never forget that day in and day out, God is doing great things for us.
Sometimes we get so busy in life that we forget about all the ways God has blessed us. Whenever that happens, use Mary’s words like a magnifying glass and take a good, long look at how good God is.