That first Christmas night was a time of unspeakable rejoicing among the angels and so it should be with us. Obviously there are things this Christmas that do not bring us joy: The Covid-19 pandemic with many lost loved ones, a worldwide shortage of products and employees, not to mention traffic, hectic shopping, and a time when crime is highest. Further, more people commit suicide at Christmas than at any other time of the year.
Our Christmases should not be seasons of depression, sadness, and unbelief. Actually, accept for worldly efforts to eliminate any spiritual expressions of this time of the year, Christmas should be a perfect occasion for singing. The first two chapters of Luke’s account give us the story of Jesus’ birth in the form of 3 carols: The songs of Elizabeth, Mary, and Zacharias.
Consider the carol of Mary. Open your Bible to Luke 1:46-53 and follow along as you read this devotional. Imagine Mary, a beautiful woman who lived a life of purity and devotion to the Lord would be the mother of Jesus. Her carol, next to the Lord’s Prayer, is one of the most beautiful passages in Scripture. It is called “The Magnificat,” meaning “it magnifies,” and is a song of joy.
Let’s consider some of the truths in Mary’s carol.
Mary’s carol was one of praiseful joy (v. 46). This reminds me of Hannah’s song: “My heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.” (I Samuel 2:1). May our lips contain the message of joy in our hearts not only for what the Savior has done in and for us, but for Who He is. Her carol was one of spiritual joy (v. 46). Her spirit, or God-consciousness, sang also. It’s one thing to have your soul stirred by all the music and activities of Christmas, but the Gospel was intended to reach beyond one’s soul, to reach the very spirit of humanity. Is your spirit rejoicing this Christmas as well as your soul?
Mary sang a carol of joy in God (v. 46). The object of joy is in God Himself. The apostle Paul said, “We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:11). All the joyous praise, thanksgiving, and adoration of this Christmas season properly belong to God, not Santa Claus, beloved parents, or charitable causes! This song was also about the joy of salvation (v. 46). Mary knew her baby would be the Savior of the world. Our Roman Catholic friends believe in the Immaculate Conception, that Mary was free from any original sin. But Mary needed a Savior just like all of us as Isaiah 43:11 teaches: “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.” This Christmas is the song in your heart a carol of salvation?
Mary’s carol was one of grateful joy (v. 48). She knew that she had no righteousness that put her above other women. She realized that everything was because of God’s grace. That’s the unique character of the Christian Gospel. God did something wonderful for us when we were just unworthy sinners. Mary sang also about hopeful joy (v. 48). She was indeed blessed as the virgin mother of God’s Son. But some have elevated her far above her rightful place in the Bible. They believe she can get favors from God if we pray to her. But nowhere does Scripture teach such a doctrine. Mary was blessed because God chose her. So God has chosen believers, cares for them, and furnishes them a home in Heaven. And what a blessing Christ has been to the nations that have embraced Him.
Finally, Mary’s solo was one of reasonable joy (v. 49). Not just the greatness of salvation, but allthings. If Mary picked a favorite hymn, it might be: “To God be the glory, great things He hath done.” Romans 8:32 asserts that “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will He not also along with him, graciously give us all things.” Psalm126:3 adds: “The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.”
Verses 50-53 describe what God has done for mankind. Mary names three groups God has blessed and helped: (1) The helpless v. 51. Not to those who help themselves, but to those who are helpless when it comes to justice and civil rights God plainly says: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15); (2) The humble v.52: The apostle Peter warns: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5); and (3) The hungry v.53. Jesus said: “I was hungry and you gave Me food…Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these, My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:35, 40). The tragedy of this is that people don’t turn to God for deliverance, but to such things as materialism, selfish pursuits, and substance abuse. But Mary’s hymn of joy saw God turning everything upside down.
What about your testimony this Christmas? Is it as blessed and joyous as Mary’s? It should be!