The Voice of a Young Woman
With the celebration of Christmas, we remember events that took place over 2,000 years ago.
For us in the northern hemisphere, this celebration comes at the coldest time of year, when the days are at their shortest and the nights are at their longest. This gives a fitting picture of the world at the time. Spiritual darkness covered the globe. Darkness had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah. In Isaiah 9:2, it says:
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. (Isaiah 9:2 NLT)
Into the darkness that covered the globe, God sent a light. This light is a light to the nations, salvation for the whole world. Isaiah 49:6 says of Him:
You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6 NLT)
The nation of Israel has not yet been restored to God. However, He is a light to the Gentiles, and His salvation is proclaimed to the ends of the earth. The celebration of Christmas is evidence of how far and wide the light is proclaimed. Darkness still covers the globe. Many do not believe or accept the light. Of this fact, John 1:5 says:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:5 NLT)
Many voices give testimony to this light. Isaiah gave testimony 700 years before the introduction of the light into the world. Of the many things he said, Isaiah 9:6 stands out.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NLT)
The Old Testament is full of voices giving testimony to this coming light. The actual account of the coming of this light into the world is told to us in the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In these accounts, we find the voices of Advent, the voices of those who welcomed our Savior.
These voices are full of praise and wonder at the thing that God has done. These voices are full of good news and rejoicing. They are voices of amazement and thanksgiving. As we consider these voices, we too can join them in praise and thanksgiving. Voices from over 2,000 years ago reach over the centuries to proclaim to us good news of great joy.
Today, we will consider the voice of a young woman. Although she has long since grown old and passed from this earth, her voice still rings with praises for her great God and Savior.
The voice of which I speak is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We find the record of her words in Luke 1:46-55.
We join the story when Mary has just been greeted by her cousin Elizabeth. Before the events, we are considering today took place, Mary had been visited by an angel named Gabriel. He told Mary that God had chosen her to give birth to the Messiah, and as evidence offered the fact that Elizabeth, who had been barren, was with child. After the angel spoke to Mary, she traveled to see Elizabeth. Moved by the Holy Spirit, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting.
Luke 1:46-47 says:
Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” (Luke 1:46-47 NLT)
Her exclamation, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord,” shows both the depth and magnitude of her praise. Her very soul is moved by gratitude and praise.
As she continues speaking, her pronouncements reflect why such great praise and gratitude flow from her. She starts out with a profoundly personal reason for her great praise. She says:
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, (Luke 1:48 NLT)
Mary calls herself a “lowly servant girl.” This reflects more than humility. This statement shows her station in life. She was engaged to a man named Joseph, a carpenter. This was no high station. She was not among the social elite. She was not well off, nor was her husband-to-be. If the cat litter needed to be changed, she did it. She was not above feeding the chickens. And, if chicken were on the menu for the evening meal, she quite possibly would have caught, killed and butchered the chicken.
I have it on good authority that Mary’s house was not equipped with a washing machine. Laundry day quite possibly meant Mary spent her day hand washing clothing.
In a world that has deified her and that prays to her, it is possible to forget that she was human, a citizen of the world of her day. This is important for us because most of us are like her. We are not superhuman, godlike or exceptional, except to our children. Most of us have to load our own dishwashers and microwave our own popcorn.
The Bible says:
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. (1 Corinthians 1:26-28 NLT)
These verses could have Mary’s picture beside them. Even in her lifetime, Mary did not have much of the world’s goods. Her eldest son was crucified on a Roman cross, and she was taken in by one of His disciples. And yet, what she said is true. She said:
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. (Luke 1:48 NLT)
From then on, all generations have called her blessed.
I recently saw a billboard that invited me to come to be a student at a particular school and change the world. I wondered about the goal of changing the world. It seems a bit grandiose when I have trouble changing myself. However, consider what God can do. Consider Mary’s praise.
For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever. (Luke 1:49-55 NLT)
She calls God Mighty and Holy. He is the Almighty. He not only is all-powerful, but He is also the source of all power in the Universe. All things have their existence in and through Him. In addition to His power, He is holy. As the Holy One, He is absolutely pure and set apart from all His creation. He is above all things. It is this Holy and Mighty One who is acting on our behalf. Not just ours, but your behalf. In all other aspects of your life you may be only a number or a cog in the machine, but not to God. As Mary says, “He has done great things for me!”
As is evident in what Mary says, God has no use for the proud and haughty. He even brings down princes from their thrones. For Him, the nations are but a drop in the bucket. God is a God who sees and hears. He not only noticed Mary, but He also notices you.
One way we are assured that He notices us is in His constant provision. Mary says, “He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.” The Lord provides for those whose trust is in Him. We cannot out-give the Lord. If you are not in the habit of giving to the Lord, this is one area where He says to test Him. Every good and perfect gift is from the Lord. He is our provider.
The nature of this is personal. God does great things for you and me. God provides for your every need. He is aware of your condition, be it ever so humble. Jesus used the example of God’s care of sparrows to teach this lesson. He said:
What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31 NLT)
You can never be unimportant because God is concerned with and remembers you. The world offers many invitations, like the invitation I saw to choose a school and change the world. Mary received a call from God to be the mother of the Messiah, and God has changed the world. Jesus offers you an invitation today to be His disciple. God has done tremendous things for you, as He did for Mary. He has called you by name and chosen you to be His child. Will you, like Mary, respond by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant”? If you will, your life too will be filled with praise.