Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Christmas Meditation

I was in a meeting recently where someone shared the shepherds' account from Luke chapter 2. We got to the final portion of the passage where Luke comments to his readers in verse 19 that "Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." I had always loved that idea of Mary contemplatively pondering what had just happened and her experiences, but I hadn't thought much about the contents of what she was actually pondering. The word "these things" in the text felt really general.

One of the key concepts we try to communicate when we are teaching bible study methods is to read multiple translations. What's interesting is that looking at Luke 2 in a few English translations, this observation didn't jump out at me. My meeting was in German, and so I had a chance to look at the text with new eyes. As I read the text, I noticed that the German text said that Mary "kept these words." Just that transition from "things" to "words" got me thinking, what is it that Mary is thinking about? What is she pondering? What "words" is Luke talking about?

As I asked this question, I looked back through the passage and realized that verse 17 gives us exactly the answer to this question. The shepherds "made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child." This is to say, they made known the "words" that had been told to them about the child.

As someone who has spent a lot of time with the Christmas story, this was really powerful. I always thought the shepherds' primary role was worship, which is still really important. It is an expression of God choosing the lowly and the outsider to celebrate and worship him at his birth. But looking more closely at this text in Luke, I realized that the shepherds had a role of proclamation, as well, and not just to the surrounding villages and people to whome they were connected. The shepherds told Mary and Joseph (though Mary is highlighted in the story) a confirmation of what they both had personally experienced in dreams and angelic visits beforehand. This message from verses 10-12, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of David, the promised Messiah, that will be for all people. This is what the shepherds said. This is what Mary held onto. Even the prediction of where he would be and how they would find him. All of it was a confirmation for her, for them. God was at work; this was his doing, and he sent them unexpected messengers to complete the task. These are the words that she pondered and treasured. This thing proclaimed by angels and shepherds. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Nate for this. A new revelation to this epic historical event


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