Birth of the SaviorLuke 2:1-20Theme: Paradoxes of the promise.This week’s lessons teach us that the good news of the Gospel is for everyone.
LessonIn the third place Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Now that is a little bit beyond mere amazement. You can be amazed at something that doesn’t have a whole lot of content. It doesn’t go much further than that. But it did go further than that with Mary. Mary heard these things and she knew what the angel had told her. She also knew what the shepherds had told her. A little later the wise men came with their story. She took all these things and she mulled them over in her heart, and thought about them and pondered them. And that is a great way to celebrate Christmas – to meditate upon these things, asking yourself in the sight of God what they mean and what they mean for you personally.
That involves hard work. I notice that in this case it involved memory because Mary, we are told, treasured up all these things. That means she remembered them. She collected them in her mind. She kept them together. She didn’t want to forget. It involved her affections because she treasured them up in her heart. It was not some abstract kind of theology for Mary. It is something that touched her, and meant something deeply. And then I notice that it also involved her intellect because she pondered them. That is, she tried to figure these things out.
The gift of Christ is really indescribable in many important ways. It is indescribable because Christ is God, and God is indescribable. The gift is also indescribable because it involves the incarnation, the Trinity, all the great doctrines of salvation. We never fully understand these things. Somebody pointed out to me that there is nothing in all of life that we ever fully understand, and that is true too. But that doesn’t mean that we are not to try to understand them. Our minds should be stretched by these things. We should think about them, and think about the significance of Christ’s coming.
Then, finally, in verse 20, we read that the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had seen and heard. They didn’t only speak to men; they spoke to God. They praised him and glorified him. They rehearsed before him all his magnificent attributes. They proclaimed what a great God he was to come to us in such a way. They saw in the birth of Christ the evidence of the wisdom of God, and the power of God, and the purity of God, and the holiness of God. All they could do in the final analysis was wonder at the graciousness of God. And I think really that is what we should do.
I suggest that if you are having trouble with these things, the place to begin is not so much with speaking to others, but with the second point, the amazement, or the third point, the pondering, or with the fourth point, which is praising and glorifying God. After you have done that, and God and his marvelous Gospel have taken a proper hold upon your heart, then you will find it not difficult to go and talk to others and spread the good news about what God has done.
This is a great story. It’s a story filled with paradoxes, but the paradoxes all come down to this: that God has entered human life and he has come in at the low level in order that nobody – no matter how low or how sinful, or how high or how self-righteous they may be – need be excluded. But Jesus Christ is for you, whoever you are. He is the Son of God. He is the Savior. And he invites you to receive him into your heart. Won’t you do that? This is the time. It would be a pity to go through another Christmas and not know Christ as Savior. But to receive him is to enter into the full joy that is ours on this and every other day.
Why do you think that meditating on the Gospel message is a good way to celebrate Christmas?
What is involved in truly meditating on God’s Word?
What helps us to be able to tell others the good news of Jesus Christ?
ApplicationWith your family or friends, plan an evening of Christmas caroling in your neighborhood. It’s a great way to carry on the tradition begun by the shepherds so long ago!