But Mary treasured all these words
and pondered them in her heart.
The presents under the tree have all been opened, and there are those who will feel a letdown when the festivities are over. But, as Christians, we should feel great joy and hope. It is entirely appropriate, I think, in this season that so many Christians revere as holy, to now give some serious thought to just what happened on the night of our dear Savior's birth. I want to move beyond the exact date of that Divine event, and instead concentrate on the miracle of it.
Luke, Chapter Two, gives us the most details and paints the most precise picture of what occurred that awesome night. The Apostle tells us that shepherds were abiding in their fields, tending to their sheep. God has given us such a clear portrayal of His desired relationship with us; in the image of a shepherd, He shows how He cares for His own. These shepherds were in the same fields from which King David had been called to tend God's nation of Israel, and they represent the Shepherd King who now tends to us, we who have been grafted into God's chosen people.
An Angel of the Lord appears to them, resplendent in the shining glory of God; the same glory that shone about Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. It was a clear sign that God Almighty was present. This angel tells them to be unafraid, for he has news of great joy; that today in the City of David is born to you (the Jews) a Savior who is the Christ the Lord.
It is important to realize that Messiah is the Hebrew and Christ is the Greek for our English word "anointed." Throughout history, Prophets, priests, and kings have been anointed. This tiny baby will hold all three of these offices for all mankind, for all eternity.
The shepherds were given a specific sign: a baby would be found lying in a manger. They must have thought, "How can this be! Our Savior, the One who is to defeat the Roman Empire, is a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, and lying in a lowly manger?" But as if to magnify the significance of this event, a multitude of angels sang out, "Glory to God in the highest! And peace on earth to men!"
How often I have missed the gravity of this situation! The event was entirely too important to be heralded by any one angel. All heaven was interested in the departure of its Prince, and marveled at the grace of the Father who sent him. It was an event worthy of such acclamation and praise that all heaven turned out to proclaim it!
After this momentous display of praise and glory, the angels left the shepherds, and the men hurried to Bethlehem, anxious to find this child who had been heralded with such pageantry. There they found what they were looking for, and could not wait to tell others of what they had witnessed. It is interesting to contemplate that they were among the ordinary men and women who spread the Gospel. To be sure, God used a profound prophet in John the Baptist, and a learned Pharisee in the Apostle Paul, but the rest of those who have shared the Word have been shepherds, fishermen, ordinary folks like you and me. And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds. To one who will hear, the Good News is still wondrous and exciting! Nothing has changed in over 2000 years!
But now we get to the heart of our Scripture today ... But Mary treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart. Can you even imagine what must have been going through her mind? And how her heart must have responded to the story the shepherds told of their night watch being lit by the glory of God? Indeed, she had much to ponder and review. She must have thought of the angelic messages delivered to Zacharias, to herself and to Joseph. She was of the tribe of Judah and of the lineage of King David. Her cousin Elizabeth was married to Zacharias, a priest of the lineage of Aaron. She would have been well versed in the prophecies of a Messiah, especially those in Isaiah 9:6-7:
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
I can imagine the young mother sitting there quietly, taking it all in, and trying to understand the full consequence of all that had been revealed to her. It must have been overwhelming and immensely emotional. And so it should be to us, all these thousands of years later.
The event of our Savior's birth, in all its majesty and miracles, is meant to fill us with holy reverence. For without that event, we the children of Adam and Eve, would have no hope of salvation from God's righteous judgment. It is an event that should be celebrated every day of a Christian's life, not on some designated day of celebration once a year.
Like Mary, we should treasure in our hearts and ponder on the fact that God is able to reveal His character and purpose for us through the birth of this baby. That this tiny baby, born in a manger, was destined to become our Mediator and redeem all mankind from sin should fill us with awe and wonder.
So, let's not restrict the celebration of our Savior to just one day out of the year. Let us look upon this miraculous event each and every day with thanksgiving and praise. There's no reason for the celebration to end!