“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” Luke 1:46-47
When Mary brought her gift to the temple, her spirit was overflowing with joy. As Joseph presented the two turtledoves for sacrifice, with her Baby snuggling close to her heart, she felt completely fulfilled. Yet, how troubled she had been when the angel from God gave her the news of His birth.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High… of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:29-34 ESV.
After the angel left, Mary was filled with an overwhelming peace. Never before had the love for God so filled her soul as in those nine months when the new Life was growing in her womb. Even the thought of sharing her news with her fiancé Joseph could not disturb that stillness. She was worried only for him, not for herself. When she had told Joseph everything; with a shaken face, he explained his need for time and space to think about things.
So she decided to go away and visit her pregnant cousin. Elizabeth’s ecstatic greeting seemed to lift her into the very presence of God:
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me… blessed is she who believed… what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1: 42-45 ESV
How well God had provided for her! As she spent three months tending to Elizabeth, she was treated with so much kindness and love by the elderly couple, who told her again and again how deeply honoured they were by her visit. Returning home, she found Joseph in such buoyantly happy mood and everything set for their wedding. A song from heaven bubbled again within her spirit, and remained throughout her pregnancy and childbirth in Bethlehem’s manger: “My soul magnifies the Lord…”
So the words that the prophet Simeon spoke at the temple struck the first discordant note. Troubled, she wondered what he could possibly mean:
“Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed — and a sword will pierce your own soul…” (Luke 2:33-35 HCSB)
But those were sun filled days. As she nursed the Baby and kissed His little face, she could barely contain her happiness. And He grew up to be such a happy and obedient child, whom everyone liked.
She thought again of Simeon’s words, when she nearly lost Jesus on a visit to Jerusalem. Only twelve, he had left the company of his friends and disappeared. After three days of panic and worry, she and Joseph finally found him holding a deep conversation with religious scholars. “Oh, how could you do this to us?” she cried. His reply was solemn, “Why were you searching for Me?” They did not understand what He meant when He added, “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49 HCSB)
He repeated those words again, when aged thirty, He handed over the carpenter’s shop to his brothers: “The time is now. I must be about My Father’s business.” Her quiet little world was suddenly turned upside down, as Jesus set out towards Jerusalem.
After this, he came back only once to stay with her and then His words caused such uproar in their synagogue that she feared greatly for His life: “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” When He then rolled up the scroll and all eyes were fixed on Him as He announced: “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.” Luke 4:16-21 HCSB
The people were so enraged that they tried to hurl him down a cliff, but he escaped, making it clear that he would never return.
Every now and again, his brothers would bring her news of what her Firstborn was up to. He was always with a crowd. People were glad when he arrived in their towns and villages to preach and heal the sick. He had miraculous powers and could cast out demons, they were told. He had even performed a miracle to please her– turning water into wine at the wedding of Cana. But how troubled she felt, when she heard that he had fallen foul of the authorities and religious leaders. She was confident he would do nothing wrong, but it pained her, when people spoke ill of him, “He eats with tax collectors and sinners”, “He thinks He is God. That’s blasphemy – He deserves to be killed.”
Anxious for His safety, she was determined to find Him and persuade Him to come home. He had never disobeyed her yet. But that day He was firm – He had His Father’s work to finish, and until that was done, He would not rest. With sadness, she committed Her Son once again to her Maker.
Next Passover, she comforted herself, “Jesus will make His annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and there we will meet”. Arriving there, she found the whole city in a state of turmoil and her Son, at the centre of it all. She could barely get past the screaming, crazed multitudes, shouting, “Crucify Him!” Praying and pleading for His safety, she suddenly caught a glimpse of His bloodied and broken form, and her world crumbled around her.
“O Lord, my God, how could this be? What are they doing to my little One? Stop them, Lord. Hear my cry and vindicate my trust in You, O gracious Master”, she pleaded. The silence of heaven broke her spirit; she could speak no more as the sword that Simeon promised was thrust in to her heart.
Feeling her age catch up with her, she tried to sit down and found herself drawn into a tender embrace. Looking up she saw one of women who served Jesus, Mary Magdalene and John, His beloved disciple. Holding on to them, with tears streaming down her face, she followed the Cross. Sorrow upon sorrow had been heaped upon her, and there could be no release. Yet when she saw the Lamb nailed to His cross, she bowed her head and prayed again, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word (Luke 1:38 KJV).”
Then she caught his eyes and he smiled tenderly at her, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his home (John 19:26-27 ESV).
On the resurrection morning, Mary rejoiced in the fruit of her suffering. Peace returned to her breast – for her long travail was finished, when she saw the Son in His glory. Once again, her song rose within her:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed…”
Quietly, she followed the disciples and the women to the Upper Room. When people treated her with special deference or honour, she would gently take their hands and speak kindly, but then return to her own lowly seat at the back, where she was available to anyone who sought her help. Her Maker had prepared her a room in His home and no other reward was necessary. On the day when the books are opened – where the deeds of men are recorded – all generations will rise to call her blessed, Mary, mother of our Lord.
“Father, thank You for Mary and all the lessons she has taught us. Give us hearts like hers, humble and trusting. Let us learn from her faithfulness and like her, let us be content to see Your will accomplished in our lives. In Jesus’ name.”