My heart is like a magnifying glass. There are many small things that have a tendency to consume the attention of my heart.
Sometimes I worry over the outcome of some particular circumstance. I get fearful over what the future may hold. I lust or obsess over things that I do not or cannot have. I get bitter or resentful because of the pain of relational loss. I struggle with these little seeds of sin that are tied to circumstances, feelings and unmet desires. Before I know it, my heart (like a magnifying glass) is consumed with some small thing that I didn’t notice taking root. Do you ever struggle with this?
Do you ever struggle with what’s under the magnifying glass of your heart? The bank account looks slim. The vehicle breaks down again. The kids start arguing again. Your physical health deteriorates. Your boss continues being a butthead. You and your spouse can’t seem to work through that ages old issue in your marriage. You’re single and you come into an empty home and a dinner alone on the couch watching Hallmark Christmas movies again. That old habit of isolating yourself or drowning your sorrows in some unhealthy behavior begins to look really appealing. And before you know it, you’ve spun out again and you wake up the next morning to face another day wondering what got a hold of you.
You start asking some of the following questions: Why did my heart get consumed with that small thing again? Why did I let some small thing become a huge thing? Will there ever be a sense of satisfaction in this life? Will these circumstances ever change? Will I ever experience a day without some emotionally draining thing capturing my soul? Will my deepest dreams and desires ever get met? Does God really love me? Is He really trustworthy? Will He actually meet me in the midst of my troubles? What’s under the magnifying glass of your heart today?
This is the stage that is set for the text we have in front of us today. Mary and Elizabeth couldn’t be more different in some ways and they couldn’t be more alike in other ways. Elizabeth is an old lady who was unable to have a baby until God miraculously showed up and she became pregnant (1:5 – 25). Mary was a very young lady (maybe in her late teens) who was engaged to the man of her dreams. Everything was going fine until the Lord showed up and she miraculously became pregnant even though she was an unmarried virgin (1:26 – 38). Take a look at Luke 1:39 – 55…
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Can you imagine what was under the magnifying glasses of these women’s hearts? Can you imagine the church member chatter on the private Facebook group in Nazareth? They aren’t even married yet. And she claims to be a virgin. She’s too old to have a baby. What would you do in Elizabeth’s shoes? What about Mary’s shoes? I would probably want to get out of town for a bit. Go sit in a tree stand. Take a road trip. Get my head cleared. Visit an old friend or family member.
1: MARY TAKES A ROAD TRIP (vss. 39 – 40)
After the angel Gabriel visited Mary with the news of her miraculous conception she decided to take a road trip to see her cousin Elizabeth. Now this road trip wasn’t just a hop, skip and a jump from one town to the next. The trip for Mary would have been approximately 100 miles on foot. So it would have been a carefully calculated trip and it would have taken a few days to travel there by foot through the hill country. Think of this road trip like a few of days of hiking in the Black Hills.
Can you imagine what Mary was thinking about as she was traveling? Can you imagine what kinds of little things must have popped up that could have captured the attention of her heart? What will everyone say? I’m not married yet. I didn’t sleep with Joseph yet. Was that visit from the angel real? Will Joseph stay with me? Am I ready to have a baby yet? Is my baby really going to be the Savior of the world that we’ve waited for so long for? I wonder what Elizabeth is going to think and say. There’s her house. There’s the front door. I’ll just walk in and greet her and see what happens. And with that, Mary walks through the front door of Elizabeth’s house and greets her.
2: ELIZABETH GREETS MARY (vss. 41 – 45)
The moment that Mary’s voice reached Elizabeth’s ears, baby John the Baptist leaped in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. The babies in both of these women’s wombs were more than little blobs of unformed, unfeeling substance like so many in our day believe. There was an electrical connection between these two living, breathing and feeling babies. One of the babies (John the Baptist) would be the last and the greatest of the Old Testament prophets; the other baby (Jesus) would be the Savior of the world. One baby used the womb for a pulpit and the other baby would be the point of every true pulpit in all of human history.
Elizabeth’s greeting was Holy Spirit inspired. It was as though the Holy Spirit, who filled her, also enabled her greeting that some have called the first Christmas carol of the New Testament. And her greeting/song was filled with joy and blessing. She couldn’t help but to bless Mary because of the baby in her womb. This is what happens when someone comes into the presence of the Savior. They don’t worship Mary but they recognize how blessed she was and they begin to worship the baby in her womb because he is the Savior of the world.
Elizabeth’s words are so full of humility when she exclaims, “why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me” (v. 43). Elizabeth was humble, Mary was blessed and John the Baptist jumped for joy. This is what happens when our hearts are consumed with Jesus. We get humbled by the majesty of Christ. We realize how blessed we are despite our circumstances. Our hearts leap with joy because of Christ. All of the small things that could consume our hearts just melt away in the presence of Jesus who deserves to be the centerpiece of our souls. This is what it looks like to have the Son of God magnified in our hearts. The proof of this is found in the song that Mary sings in the following verses.
3: MARY SINGS A SONG OF PRAISE (vss. 46 – 55)
Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” and Luke 6:45 says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Mary’s song of praise flowed out of a heart that had to have been meditating on the goodness and the faithfulness and the loving kindness of God during her road trip. Her heart was so full of the treasures of God that her lips couldn’t help but to magnify God. Mary’s heart was a magnifying glass and there was only one thing under that magnifying glass.
The only small thing that had captured Mary’s heart was the small baby in her womb that pointed to the big God that she served. Through her song of praise she magnified the God who lifts the humble (vss. 48 – 50) and humbles the proud (vss. 51 – 55). Her heart was overflowing with joy because she knew that God was her Savior. He is mighty and great and holy and merciful. Those who fear God (trust and obey through thick and thin) experience his power and his mercy. The proud person could never experience the blessing of the presence of God because God scatters their thoughts, he rips them down form their self-righteous thrones and he sends them away empty. But the humble person who trusts and obeys God (fears him) gets lifted up, filled up and helped in their times of need.
This is Mary’s song of praise and according to the last verse; her song of praise was founded on the stage of God’s promise “to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever” (vs. 55). When my heart is captured by the small but seemingly big problems of this life, what I need in those moments is to be brought back to the everlasting promises of God’s Word through the gospel to me. I need to be reminded that God remembers his promises and that God always comes through on his Word. His love never fails. His mercy lasts forever. His salvation over me is signed in the blood of his Son, sealed by the power of the Spirit and delivered into Heaven’s throne room for all of eternity. What’s under the magnifying glass of your heart?
The problems of this life are momentary; like a wisp of wind. Those problems are real for sure but they won’t last forever. How easy it is to be consumed by something so small and momentary when all of eternity is in the balance. My little thumb can block out something as big as the moon. In the same way, my little problems can block out something as big as the reason that Jesus came to this earth. My heart is like a magnifying glass. Whatever I put underneath it becomes magnified.
So the question is: What’s under the magnifying glass of my heart today? When I think about the real reason for the Christmas season, every little thing that seeks to capture my heart melts away. When I survey the wonder of the cross of Christ, the power of the empty tomb and the promise of heaven, all the little things that seem to loom so large in my heart and mind seem to melt away.
I remember that I am blessed beyond belief and that this earth isn’t my home. Despite my longing for the things of this earth, the cross, the empty tomb and the promise of heaven radically transforms the magnifying glass of my heart. I begin to find peace in the quiet moments with God. I find clarity, healing and hope in the Word of God. And then I find my heart overflowing with songs of praise for my Savior.
Would you join me as we close with communion and songs of praise? Would you let God redirect the meditations of your heart and the words of your mouth as we sing to him and remember the gift of his Son at the cross? Would you let the Spirit of the living God come and do a work of transforming the magnifying glass of your heart? Would you ask him to remove the tiny things that have loomed so large in your heart and mind this week? Would you ask him to fill your heart with his presence?
Because here’s the thing… here’s my final word to you… God loves you and he loves to meet you in your place of despair, fear, loneliness, pain, sorrow, worry, doubt, lust or pride. He loves to meet people in the ash heaps of this sin infected world. He loves to hold out his hand with the invitation to come into his presence. He wants to speak to your weary heart. Isn’t this what we all need and desperately want deep down underneath all the other needs and wants of this life?
To hear the voice of our loving Father say, “I am pleased with you and I love you”. Mary and Elizabeth had both heard the promising and comforting Word of the Lord to them and as a result their hearts both overflowed with the joy and the blessings of faith-filled lives. The magnifying glasses of their hearts had been redirected to the One who is bigger than anything they had or would ever experience on this earth. Will you let the Lord transform the magnifying glass of your heart today?