I don’t know how many times I’ve read the Christmas story. Reading Luke 2 is practically a baptism mandate. (No, it’s not.) But as I was reading a section this morning, I read a line I don’t think I’ve ever really read before. I’m pretty sure God stuck that one in there in invisible ink or something. Like Tom Riddle’s diary, but less diabolic.
The verse was this:
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2.19, NIV)
What things? These things:
“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Luke 2.17-18, NIV)
What had the shepherds been told? Just this:
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’” (Luke 2.10-11, NIV)
She was blessed, favored, chosen. For nine months, her story was doubted, her purity questioned, her engagement threatened. During the final weeks of pregnancy, she traveled over rocky terrain, on the back of a donkey, to an unfamiliar town. She was forced to labor alone, with only Joseph and barn animals to comfort her, without even a soft bed to rest against, much less a painstakingly created birthing playlist.
For nine months, she had carried and protected and nourished this child, felt his feet flutter against her ribs, his tiny body grow and swim inside her. Born from her flesh, though not of her flesh.
Alone. Exhausted. Gazing into the face of a newborn she had no part in creating, only carrying.
And as she rested, finally tearing herself from cradling this infant to lay him in a trough, strange men in shepherd’s clothing burst in, her baby’s only welcoming committee, shouting amazing, unbelievable tales of angels! Appearing in the night! Heralding this miraculous birth! And look! It’s true! Just like the angels said!
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
What could she have been thinking? Feeling?
Did she know the implications of Savior, Messiah, LORD?
Did she understand that angels wouldn’t always be going ahead of her, proclaiming her truth so she didn’t have to insist up on it?
Did she realize that unbelief would plague her, would plague her child?
She knew He came to save, but did she know that meant to die?