Pondering With Mary

A Bible, quill, and a picture of Mary and a young Jesus

“Dan, we’ll wait for you…”

I think most parents have moments where their child makes them proud—where their youngster’s act or accomplishment confirms the thing that every other parent should realize—that there kid is the absolute greatest. 🙂

And I have been blessed by God with four awesome children including what was a surprise addition to our family, Augie, who is now six years old.

Every Saturday morning, usually around 9:00, Augie and I head to a local Burger King with the ever-so-important play area and have breakfast. If you’ve ever had Burger King’s hash browns properly smothered in ketchup you’ll understand why. 🙂

(Although for those listening in Antrim, New Hampshire…we’d really still prefer to go to T-Bird.)

After we are done eating, more often then not we head into the play area. Augie especially enjoys his time in it when there are other kids…needless to say dad is a bit too big to join him. 🙂

Well, a few weeks back he was playing with a girl a couple years junior to him when another child, not sure exactly what his name was…perhaps Dan…came into the room and raced over the the play area. The boy’s dad quickly spoke up, “Dan, aren’t you going to take your shoes off first?”

Next thing I hear Augie say to the little girl, “We should wait for Dan” followed by him turning toward the shoe rack and saying, “Dan, we’ll wait for you.”

After which they both sat down and…well…waited for Dan.

You could say that I “treasured up” Augie’s words and action…and that I “pondered them in [my] heart.”

Wouldn’t you? If you are a parent, what have your kids done that you were similarly both proud and amazed by?

I’ll be telling that story about Augie the rest of his life. And considering what age does to memory, my friends may hear it a myriad times. 🙂

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

Sermons About Mary

If you don’t mind a rather a rather harsh segue from that story, let me also tell you about one of the curses of being a preacher. Now, I can’t say every pastor is equally afflicted with this…but when I listen to another minister I can’t help but do some dissection of what they are saying. It used to be I never could turn it off enough to enjoy someone else’s sermon.

Luckily, it’s been a long while since that has been true. That is, as long as the preacher is getting his thoughts from Scripture instead of trying to entertain us with his own ideas.

Oh, and misuse verses and you’ll cause my hairline to recede even more. 🙂

So, good news…I don’t mentally dissect sermons much anymore…but, sometimes I might think about how I would have preached on the topic or verses. That was true last week, where the pastor spoke about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Chatting with my wife afterward I said, “If I were him I would have focused on…”

Well, you are about to find out exactly what I told Michelle…as we dig into Scripture this third Sunday of Advent. 🙂

Verses that Stand Out

With Mary, for some reason two specific verses stand out most to me. So much that, to be honest, I thought the Bible had a lot more occurrences of what was common between them. Here they are:

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14  “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:8-19, emphasis mine).

And a little bit later…

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart (Luke 2:41-51, emphasis mine).

“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” “And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.”

And now you know why I told the Burger King story about Augie. 🙂

With the first incident…where shepherds must have told her quite a tale…you can fully understand how astonished she must have been. Or, maybe what Gabriel told here before she became pregnant with the Son of God (see Luke 1:26-38) tempered it a bit. Regardless, you can see Mary, likely exhausted by travel and the birth…looking into the eyes of her “babe in a manger” and contemplating the shepherds’ incredible words. No wonder “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

However, in that case Jesus had done nothing other than arrive…so we have to consider the words and actions of a 12 year-old Jesus to find an occasion closer in nature to my story about Augie. Those verses centered around the temple end pretty much the same way as the first ones…but to give kudos to Mary…after expressing some initial frustration with “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress”…

After expressing some initial frustration, and…as the text shares…not fully “[understanding] the saying [Jesus] spoke to them”…Mary doesn’t appear to have just chalked up the incident to an inconsiderate or rebellious kid.

No, instead she “treasured up all these things in her heart.”

And I would do the same if, after searching for Augie, I found him sitting with the elders of our church, “listening and asking them questions.”

I would have like to have been a fly on the wall when Jesus did that! 🙂

What Else Did Mary See?

Considering the veneration some have of Mary, you might be surprised by how little the Bible specifically mentions her. I can’t say I was able to find every last occurrence, but I do think I read through the vast majority of them as I did research for this sermon. We won’t read all of them together…but let’s highlight some interesting ones.

The Visit with Elizabeth

After Gabriel first gave Mary a heads-up about how she was chosen for such an incredible honor, the first incident related to Jesus was even before He was born. Could you imagine being pregnant, visiting your cousin who is also with child (and beyond the age she should be)…and having your cousin.

“…[exclaim] 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” (Luke 1:42-45).

?

I bet you that would cause a bit of wonderment on your part, wouldn’t it?

The text doesn’t say it, but I imagine “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

At Jesus’ Purification

Now, soon after Jesus was born…40 days to be exact…Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus went to Jerusalem because “the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses.” If you later read Luke 2:22-35 you can hear about their whole interaction with Simon, a “righteous and devout” man…but let it suffice to say that he said some pretty incredible things about Jesus, including…in verses 34 and 35:

“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35, in part).

Think about it.

When really people should just be saying, “How old is he?,” “He is sooooooo cute,” and “Congratulations!”…Mary is being told that her baby, (apparently) totally defenseless in her arms…is going to cause the “fall and rising of many in Israel.”

Not only that…that “a sword will pierce through [her] own soul also.”

Once again I imagine “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” You?

And More…

How about when the wise men showed up with expensive gifts? (See Matthew 2:10-11.) When was the last time a star in the sky led people to your child?

Or when Joseph told Mary that an angel came and said to flee to Egypt? (See Matthew 2:13-15.) At that point the news of angels probably didn’t surprise her anymore, but that a ruler wanted to kill her child?! Why?!

In these various situations I would suggest it’s likely that “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

A Wedding

As we continue, I should note the Bible is extremely quiet about Jesus before His ministry started. Other than what we read about at the temple, we really don’t know what a young Jesus personally did. And, chronologically, the next incident after a tween chatting with teachers…where we have both Jesus and Mary…appears to be at a wedding:

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days (John 2:1-12).

What this episode tells me is that all the pondering and treasuring Mary did informed her enough that she knew her son could do something to remedy a rather uncomfortable social situation. However, like others after her, she had a bad sense of timing…Jesus’ hour had not come.

And no…Jesus didn’t treat His mom badly by calling her “woman.” If you do a little digging…you’ll find it was a respectful term.

Not to mention, even though his mom did ask something she shouldn’t have, did he reject her request? No…it wasn’t His hour…but for His dear old mom He manifested His glory and blessed the entire wedding company with “good wine.”

She knew more than most about His power. She then knew she made an inappropriate request. Finally, she knew He fulfilled it anyway.

I bet you “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

Getting it Wrong

Now, that doesn’t mean Jesus’ mom never made any big mistakes when it came to her perception of her son. Although this doesn’t specifically call her out, I suspect she may have been involved:

20 Then he [Jesus] went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:20-21).

Why do I think she was involved in thinking Jesus was nuts? First, it does say “family”…of which she was a key member. Additionally, only 10 verses later in Mark we read:

31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you” (Mark 3:31-32).

The fact those words are so close to my previous quote does not prove Mary was part of the “family” that thought our Lord was “out of his mind”…but it makes thematic sense (especially if there was a chance they were coming to “seize him”). And, in some respects if she did, could you blame her? What do you think of people who are so busy or focussed that they don’t eat? It’s not usually a sign of a fully healthy mind, is it? Might warrant an “intervention”…might it not?

Luke’s version of “Your mother and your brothers are outside” explains why they waited and sent someone in instead of going in themselves:

19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:19-21).

So, it was a crowd that made it so Jesus couldn’t eat…and it was a crowd that kept His family from coming in directly themselves.

And just imagine if they got Jesus’ answer back!

You are Christ’s mom. You’ve watched Him grow all His life. You’ve seen more of Him than anyone else. Now, He is attracting so many people He cannot get food; so many people that you couldn’t break through the crowd to see Him.

I suspect “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

On the Cross

As I mentioned there aren’t a whole bunch of place in Scripture where you see Mary (especially with Jesus)…and the next one I’m going to share is a case that no mother would ever want to experience. We turned to the book of John for Jesus’ first miracle. Now let’s turn to John again to see the heart Jesus had for His mom:

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (John 19:25-27).

I told you this was something no mom would want to experience.

No parent should ever have to outlive their child…but not only was Mary about to do that, the same woman who first looked into the eyes of the infant Savior now had to look at the badly beaten body of her Son nailed to the cross between two thieves. Surely a women who treasured and pondered her son knew it was the innocent between the guilty. The righteous One between the wicked.

And any inhabitant of the Roman-ruled world knew there was only one path off the cross.

Death.

Yet…

Yet when Jesus was in extreme pain…

Yet when Jesus knew He was about to be tortured in the worst way possible…by being separated from His Father because “For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21)…

Yet when Jesus had the weight of all sin…our sin…past and present…weighing on His shoulders…

Yet when any one of us would likely be focusing on the unfairness we were suffering (and probably just wishing death would come so it would end)…

“Woman, behold, your son!” “Behold your mother!”

Yet when Jesus was in the worst place possible He thought about…

Dear old mom.

The same man that was on the cross because of His love for us spent part of His final moments thinking of His…

Dear old mom.

After she went home with John do you question that “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart”?

And You?

By limiting verses to ones that are connected with Mary, I haven’t really covered the full gamut of what the Son of the Most High did while here on the earth. We saw His glory in His first miracle—but it wasn’t the most wonderfully miraculous thing He did.

We saw His kindness at the cross in how he watched out for dear old mom, but one could argue He did even kinder things. For instance, in my sermon, “The Hand of God,” I noted the type of hand Jesus had for us:

  • He touched a leper to make him clean (Matthew 8:1-3)
  • When the sick were brought to him, “he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them” (Luke 4:40)
  • He touched Peter’s mom’s hand and her fever left (Matthew 8:14-15)
  • He took the ruler’s terminally ill daughter’s hand and she arose (Matthew 9:23-25)
  • He grabbed Peter so he wouldn’t drown when his faith wavered (Matthew 14:28-31)
  • He welcomed and laid hands on the children that His disciples tried to shoo away (Matthew 19:13-15)
  • He gave sight to the blind man by touching his eyes twice…even if it did mean using spitty mud (Mark 8:23-25).
  • He lifted up the demon-possessed boy after excising the spirit out of him (Mark 9:21-27).
  • He laid hands on the woman who could not stand up for 18 years and “immediately she was made straight” (Luke 13:11-13).
  • He touched the ear of one of the men who came to arrest him in the Garden and it was no longer cut off (Luke 22:47-51).
  • And even after He returned to His glory in heaven, “he laid his right hand on” John after he “fell at his feet as though dead” and told him to “fear not” (Revelation 1:17-18).

The only “clean” human to ever grace this planet touched the untouchable. Showed kindness to every kind of person…even though He knew mankind wasn’t going to return the kindness and He would end up on the cross.

And as incredible as that is…it’s still only such a small view of all the amazingly miraculous and amazingly kind things our Lord did.

How do you react to it?

Are they just a bunch of cool stories, but you don’t believe them?

Do you just feel, “Man, when is this sermon going to ever end?”

Do you wish we could move on to other stuff…like, when does the football game start today?

Or, when you “see” Jesus…

Do you treasure up all these things, pondering them in your heart?

Do you treasure all these things in your heart?

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Luke 12:32-34).

Back to Augie

I did not share the story about Augie because he did some incredible thing. He didn’t win an award like plenty of kids his age have. He didn’t compose his first piece of music like Mozart when he five. He didn’t do anything…

Except show kindness to a kid he didn’t know.

You might say the reason I pondered and treasured what he did was…well…because it was so Christlike.

Nothing to gain…only something to give.

Leading by example.

Showing love to someone who didn’t “earn” it or “deserve” it.

43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 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 (Luke 6:43-45).

When you hear of what Jesus did…do you treasure up all these things, pondering them in your heart?

If not…I will pray for you. There is something wrong with your heart. Something wrong with your focus. Something wrong with your treasure.

It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, but your treasure is in the wrong pace.

If you do treasure up all these things, pondering them in your heart …what do you ponder and treasure most? The powerful miracles or the loving kindness?

Jesus’ glory in power or Jesus’ glory in love?

I think the better answer is the latter.

Look at the baby in the manger…look at the hand that touched the untouchables in-between…and look at the man who hung on the cross for you.

And then how about you and I ponder it all with Mary?


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