“But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
It has stuck with me all through the season. Luke 2 tells the familiar story of angels proclaiming the greatest birth announcement in the universe to the shepherds. The shepherds, in turn, visit Mary and Joseph and Christ the Child. The birthday party gets turned up to 11 and then… verse 19 shows us the state of the mother, Mary:
She treasures and ponders the words of the shepherds.
Consider what she has already experienced:
Gabriel the angel comes to Mary earlier in the story. He tells her she is expecting. He tells her God is the Father.
The virgin has a Baby – she knows that this is a MIRACLE laying in the feeding trough.
Mary knows how impossible Jesus is.
So why does Mary ponder the words of the shepherds when she has heard the words of the angels?
Why treasure the words of the shepherds when she has given birth to the treasured Word of God?
The shepherds do not give advice on how to raise a Son.
They do not tell Mary how to connect with God.
They do not give directions to a place of comfort or safety.
What do they offer?
Interesting thing about these particular shepherds: They are stewards of David’s flock. The sheep that they look after are the sheep that are raised for sacrifice in Jerusalem. They know sacrificial lambs.
These shepherds know what it means to find a baby lamb, raise it, protect it, feed it, keep it warm, name it, walk with it, talk to it, teach it, discipline it, provide for it, make it lie down in green pastures, prepare for it, feed it some more, fall in love with it… then give it up for sacrifice.
Shepherds know how to prepare a life for death that saves life.
I do not believe that the shepherds knew all of the nuances of spiritual discipline. I don’t think that they could quote the pertinent information about sacrificial lambs and why God instituted an atonement system for the people of Israel. They probably could not tell you or me or Mary why God would send His Son to re-connect us with Him and restore the soul of anyone willing.
But God sent the shepherds to relay some necessary information: “This is how you raise a Lamb for sacrifice.”
This is the love of God: God sent the only people in the world who knew the difficulty of loving the Lamb for Sacrifice to a woman who would have to watch her Son bring forgiveness to the world from a cross.
Mary treasured these things, pondering them in her heart.
It breaks my heart that Mary had to hear that information; had to ponder those words. Would my heart be strong enough to ponder those words? I don’t know…
But I know that I, like the shepherds and Mary, get to fall in love with the Lamb for Sacrifice.
Just like Mary, I have to send Jesus to the cross.
If you want Life, you have to send Jesus to the cross.
(Truth be told, He went to the cross willingly for us)
This is necessary information.
To whom is God sending you with necessary information?