Bible Reading: Luke 1:46-55
“He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.” (Luke 1:52)
God tells us to be humble. Jesus says that only those who are “poor in spirit” will receive the kingdom of heaven (see Matthew 5:3). There is no room for the proud to come before God. If we are to follow Him, we must learn to be humble. What does it mean to be humble, and how can we be humble?
Take Mary’s story. In the time and culture, Mary would have been just another teenage girl about to get married. Some sources say she was somewhere between 16 - 18 years old. Out of nowhere, an angel appeared and told her that she would conceive a child, not of natural relations with a man, but that it would be a miracle of the Holy Spirit. She was told that the son would be called Jesus.
Every year in Sunday school, this story had always seemed to be a beautiful one, filled with sentiments of Christmas. But, in reality, it was not. What is the first thing people assume when they see a virgin getting pregnant? What did Joseph think of Mary, and why was he planning a quiet divorce?
In Jewish law, the punishment for adultery was death (see Leviticus 20:10). When Mary agreed to bear Jesus in her womb, she agreed to a lot of shame, misunderstanding, and potentially a death punishment. From an earthly perspective, it was not a good choice at all. What is the point of putting yourself through so much trouble?
But, see what is in Mary’s heart. She did not grumble or complain because she humbly trusted in God and looked forward to the goodness God was promising. Mary sang, “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” (Luke 1:46-48).
Mary teaches us what it means to be humble. To be humble means trusting and following God’s ways even though we may have to suffer for it. To be humble means giving up the right to acceptance, honour, and glory on our own account. It means trusting in God that He will vindicate us in His time.
Mary’s humility to trust God’s plan despite all the repercussions it would have on her life points to the ultimate example of humility, Christ. In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus lowered Himself of all honour and glory to become a man and die on the cross. More than that, Jesus had to bear the cup of God’s wrath for the sins of His people. But, Jesus endured “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2) because He knew there was something far better on the other side of His obedience — God’s people being reconciled with God.
Only the humble will know what it means to be exalted. Jesus was exalted to sit on the right hand of the Father’s throne. For Mary, she was exalted because she knew that she had a part in God’s colossal plan to save His people, knowing that “He who is mighty has done great things for [her]” (Luke 1:49).
Only those who humbly trust and obey the Lord will reap the fruit of knowing that they are on the Lord’s side. To be with God and have Him as our friend, rock and comforter are more than any sinner could ask for. He calls us to live with humility. What is our response?
Lord, teach us what it means to be humble. Teach us to trust in Your ways and walk in Your truth. Your ways are always good even though we might not understand them. Teach us to bear the cross and follow You. In Jesus’ name, amen.