I hope your Christmas celebration left you with some wonderful memories to hold onto. Christmas memories can be some of the most treasured memories of our lives. Christmas can also leave us with many questions. Did Aunt Jeanne really like her gift or was she faking it? How am I going to lose these extra pounds with all these leftover sweets around the house? Why can’t my family be like the families in the Christmas movies? And the most difficult question of all, where am I ever going to wear that sweater that my nephew gave me?
The first Christmas also offered treasured memories and left behind many questions? “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
“Ponder” is a word not often used today. The Greek word translated ponder in Luke 2 means to think deeply about something, to carefully consider various implications of an issue. Certainly, Mary had much to treasure and ponder – angel visits, virgin pregnancy, shepherds telling of angelic hosts in the sky. And all centered around a baby lying before her in a feeding trough. The baby looked like any other baby born into the world, but clearly this baby was different. What did it all mean? And what was Mary supposed to do now?
We know from scripture that Mary’s life in the near future would continue to be sprinkled with events to treasure and ponder – Simeon’s and Anna’s wonderful proclamations about the baby, strange wise men visiting from far away bringing expensive gifts to this child, angel warnings leading to a hasty departure to a foreign land, and finally a return to Nazareth where Jesus grew up. For much of the next 30 years after that first Christmas however, Mary’s life and Jesus’ seems to be quite ordinary. We really have no reliable evidence to the contrary. Other than twelve-year old Jesus being found teaching in the temple, there seems to be nothing special about this boy whose birth caused such a fuss. But I believe Mary was still treasuring and pondering through all those years. When Jesus began his ministry at the age of thirty and began to perform incredible miracles, Mary probably thought things were finally making sense. All the humiliation and hardship that Mary had experienced was finally being validated in the person that Jesus was becoming. But the biggest questions were still to come for Mary, and for us. Only three years into this amazing ministry, Jesus was railroaded on false charges and executed in the most horrible way known in that day. I imagine that all the answers Mary had come up with instantly vanished into the most painful pondering of all. Angels, shepherds, wise men – why? For this? Was my son Jesus just another man? Why did I have to go through all that for this? But this pondering would end up being the shortest pondering of all when on the third day, Jesus arose! Finally, all the treasuring and pondering was fulfilled in one glorious event. This baby born on the first Christmas, who cried, slept, and pooped like any other baby had now proven that he really was the Messiah, the Savior, Immanuel (God with us.) For the rest of Mary’s life, whatever came her way, she never had to ponder certain questions ever again. Jesus really was the Answer that brought all other questions into perspective.
In these post-Christmas 2015 days, what are you treasuring and what are you pondering? I can’t really help you with what to do with that “beautiful” sweater you got for Christmas. But I can offer this. The coming year will provide memories to treasure, and it will offer questions to ponder in the midst of many very ordinary days. But the truth of the first Christmas will remain unchanged. God loved you so much that he was willing to give his son to make possible the best Christmas gift of all – eternal life with Him. (John 3:16) No matter what this next year holds, treasuring (making conscious effort to hold onto) the truth that is Jesus (John 14:6), will keep all the other questions in perspective.
Grace and Peace.
GBU – John 14:6