Our reading from Luke today includes the opening lines of Mary’s Magnificat—her song of praise to God, thanking Him for the blessing of Jesus, not only as His mother but as a member of the human race who desperately needs a Savior.
If we’re not careful, we can jump right into this song of praise and assume that Mary’s unwavering pursuit of God’s mission for her was without concern. However, being an unwed expectant mother was no small thing in the ancient world. Betrothed to Joseph, it would’ve been pure scandal for Mary to be with child and not yet fully married. It would’ve brought shame on her, Joseph, and both of their families.
Likely, these were some of the thoughts racing through Mary’s mind as the angel made his initial pronouncements to her. The messenger of the Lord explained God’s heavenly plan and Mary’s miraculous conception. Instead of offering objection, Mary simply offered her surrender. Remember how she responded to the news of the virgin birth: “I am the Lord’s servant… May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Surrender. Mary completely surrendered her life to the will and calling of God—no matter the scandal, no matter the risk, no matter the consequences. I pray for that same courage for all of us. In a world that values control, planning, and the self-made man, I wonder how many of us readily choose surrender. It sounds like a passive decision, but it is the most active way we can take ground for the kingdom of heaven.
Perhaps Luke wanted us to notice that Mary’s unfettered, soul-stirring praise of God came on the heels of her surrender. I do think that order is significant. Mary burst into praise after she surrendered, after she accepted the course of faithful, courageous service to the will of God in her life.
The same pattern has tested true in my own life—passionate worship and communion with God follow surrender. My prayer for all of us today is that surrender would lead our souls to praise the greatness of God. The coming of our Lord and Savior, which we celebrate in this Advent season, marked the inauguration of an eternal victory of life over death. Though at every turn, this victory is also marked by surrender.
Written by Andrew Stoddard