Choose to Exalt Jesus
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” Luke 1:46 (NKJV)
Magnify. The Greek word is megalyno: “to make great, to make conspicuous; to esteem highly, to extol, laud, and celebrate.”* It brings to mind an image of a servant bowing low before a monarch.
Maybe that’s one reason Mary used magnify in her prayer. God’s messenger Gabriel had given Mary’s son two royal titles: He was the son of El Elyon, the Most High God who reigns over the universe; He was also the son of David and would reign over the house of Jacob (Luke 1:32-33). Mary, however, humbled herself before the One who bestowed the honor instead of celebrating her improved standing as the mother of a king.
Mary also may have been referencing one of King David’s psalms in her prayer: “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:3 NKJV). If so, the psalm has other connections to Mary’s situation and her mindset.
In Psalm 34:4, David said that God had delivered him from all his fears. Luke says Mary was “greatly troubled” when Gabriel appeared (1:29). He sensed her fear and said, “Do not be afraid” (v. 30). Perhaps God delivered Mary from her fear as soon as Gabriel spoke and before she told her parents and Joseph about the angel’s visit.
Second, Psalm 34:5 says, “those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (NIV). What rumors spread throughout Nazareth after Mary returned from her three-month visit to Elizabeth (1:56)? What did friends and relatives think when they saw a visibly pregnant Mary? Gabriel said the Holy Spirit had come upon Mary (1:35). But how many people believed that—before or after Jesus’ birth?
Mary may have battled fear and shame, but her prayer affirms her unshakeable trust in God. She chose to magnify Him and to celebrate His goodness regardless of what circumstances indicated or people said.
Has fear or shame stolen your joy this Christmas? Maybe you’ve lost a loved one or a job has been ripped from your grasp. Maybe you simply dread spending another holiday season alone.
Choose Mary’s mindset. Trust God’s plan for you. Wait confidently for His wisdom and deliverance. He loves you, and His hand of blessing is upon you. Choose to magnify the Lord.
Read Psalm 34. Look for other ways that the promises of this psalm could have encouraged Mary during her pregnancy. Which of its promises encourages you?
Paul uses megalyno in Philippians 1:20—“that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body.” What can you do this Christmas to exalt Christ in your home or community?
Mary’s prayer is similar to Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Learn more by reading Hannah’s Answered Prayer.
Read Psalm 138. Which of its truths would have comforted Mary? With whom can you share this psalm’s message of hope and assurance?
Denise K. Loock
Note: This devotion is first in a Christmas series: The Magnificat Series
*”Greek Lexicon :: G3170 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 4 Nov, 2014. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3170&t=KJV