Some of us are of the right vintage that we have picture albums sitting on our bookshelves or maybe a table top. These albums contain the pictures of family gatherings...weddings, baptisms, holiday gatherings, graduations and more. Some contain vacation pictures, both exotic places and trips closer to home. There is one album on our shelf that is full of wedding photos and another, photos from the wedding trip. Some days it is just fun to take one of the many albums and sit down and look at pictures. It is a chance to reminisce and ponder. Yes, many of us also carry hundreds of photos on our phones but somehow that isn’t the same. It is the pondering and remembering that is so special.
We are not the only ones who ponder however. Scripture tells us that Mary kept things and pondered them in her heart. The first time we see her pondering, the shepherds had just left the stable after their visit to baby Jesus. God had announced Jesus birth to them and they went running to Bethlehem to see what the angels were talking about. Their visit was no doubt a surprise to Mary and Joseph and she didn’t know quite what to make of it. It was perhaps the first indication that their journey as Jesus parents would be neither common or ordinary. We read in Luke 2:19, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Keeping things in her heart was like a scrapbook of sorts for her. There would be many more things and events to ponder as Jesus grew.
Not too much later, after Jesus had grown some, Wise Men came from the east bearing gifts. Again, their visit was a surprise and the gifts they brought were unexpected and peculiar. No doubt after they headed home Mary had more to store up in her heart and ponder. We read in Luke 2:49-51 about a journey to Jerusalem for Passover when Jesus was twelve. When everybody packed up to head back home to Nazareth, Jesus stayed behind in the temple to talk with the learned men. Mary and Joseph traveled a full day's journey towards home before they realized Jesus was not with them. Can you imagine the horror of losing the Son of God??!! They returned to Jerusalem and searched for three days before they found Him. They did not understand His reasons for staying, but He was obedient to them and they all returned to Nazareth together. And Mary kept these things in heart and pondered.
No doubt she pondered when they went to the wedding in Cana and Jesus turned water into wine. Perhaps she heard about Lazarus being raised from the dead. She was no doubt in the synagogue the sabbath Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the captive...” And then Jesus proceeded to declare He was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. She had known Jesus was the Son of God but she had no idea exactly what that meant. Now she was beginning to get some glimpses. And it may have been overwhelming. What would you think? There was more to ponder...lots more.
When you think about it, Mary was the memory of Jesus for the early church. She spent more time with Jesus than anyone else, including the disciples. Jewish boys and girls were under the care and teaching of their mothers until they were twelve. At that time the boys were considered adults and they then fell under the care and teaching of their fathers. It is quite possible Jesus lived at home until He began His public ministry. Mary would have seen Him every day. We do not know what happened to Joseph but it is clear from scripture that he was no longer alive when Jesus began His public ministry.
Mary knew all the details about Jesus, from the angel Gabriel’s visit to her conversation with Joseph after that. She knew all about the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and the details of Jesus birth. She watched Him grow up, play with HIs siblings and become a man. If anyone knew Jesus heart, Mary did. Who knows how many hours they spent talking. Perhaps she was the only one who understood that He was different.
I would guess God gave Mary a great memory so that she could remember all Jesus said and did in the first 30 years of His life. And then she passed those memories on to the leaders of the early church. You see, in order to have faith we have to have a memory of all the experiences, events, and people who have helped form our faith. When things look bleak, when we are troubled, if there is hopelessness, we can rely on those memories to remind us that God has been with us in the past, is with us now and always will be with us. Having memories to fall back on means the assurance that God will continue to act in our lives.
No doubt many of us have things we ponder, and that is a good thing. It will keep us grounded and focused. What has God done in your life that makes you ponder?
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W