January 12, 2015

Pondering

Devotion for the Week...

Apparently I still have Christmas on my mind. This is what I've been thinking about a lot this week.

The people of the Bible were real. They lived and thought and felt things just like we do, but most of those thoughts and feelings weren't recorded for us. Sometimes it can make the stories feel rather sterile, and sometimes that makes it easy to forget that these stories are about real people. Charles Swindoll, of Insight for Living, is really good at making you think about the emotions that biblical characters may have been feeling, which played a big role in my beginning to take the Bible seriously. Today I want to speculate a little about Mary.

When a baby is born, people love trying to figure out whether the baby looks like Mom, or Dad, or like Grandpa or Uncle Joe or whoever. If the baby has long fingers, people will say they are piano playing fingers. There are speculations about whether the baby will love to read like Mom does, or if he'll be musical like Dad. Did Mary stare at little Jesus, looking to see if He had her eyes, or her nose?

Of course, Mary had a slightly different experience with her first newborn baby. Though she didn't really know His future, she did have a few hints about what it would bring. In Luke 1: 31-33, the angel Gabriel tells Mary, "You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end." In Matthew 1:21 an angel tells Joseph, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

So before Jesus was even born she knew that He would rule a kingdom that would never end and that He would save people from their sins. I doubt she truly understood any of that, though. How could she have? Did she expect to one day have riches beyond her wildest imaginings, since her son would be king? Did she see herself enjoying a position of honour and respect, far above the petty gossip that circulated about her pregnancy? Or did she worry about giving Jesus the right education for his future as king? 

Then, just after her little boy was born, shepherds appeared at the door of the stable, asking to come in and see the baby. An angel had come to tell them about the baby, they said, telling them that "today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord" (Luke 2:11). Word travels pretty quickly among friends and family when a baby is born, but I doubt Mary expected to see anyone that night in Bethlehem, alone and far from home as they were. I doubt she ever imagined God would send an angel to direct a crowd of shepherds to drop in for a visit. Yet that's exactly what He did. We often focus on the fact that the first people to be told about Jesus' birth were lowly shepherds, which reflects His availability to anyone who chooses to come to Him, and that is important. But I wonder if maybe Mary was feeling lonely, far away from her mother and any other women who would have supported her through the birth and those first few days with a newborn. Did the visit from the shepherds lift her spirits a little? Was it a reminder for her that God knew where they were and what was happening?
 
Mary, we are told, "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). I would imagine she did! We'll never really know what Mary thought and felt, but she was a real woman, a mother, with thoughts and feelings that probably mirrored our own more than we know.

What about you? Do you ever imagine your way into Bible stories? Do you try to figure out the details that aren't recorded? Are there stories you especially wish had been recorded with more detail?

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