Luke 2:17-20

I’m struck by Mary’s reaction in this passage. Here the shepherds have heard this amazing news from an angel of a Savior—the Messiah—being born in Bethlehem, and they go and see if what the angel has told them is true. So they start spreading word: the angel was right about the birth in a manger, so might the angel not also be right about that child being the Messiah? Good news, if so. Incredible news, in fact!

And yet Mary’s reaction is something different. Rather than joining in the general amazement, she takes the news the shepherds share that an angel has said her newborn son is Messiah and Lord, and instead, she is described as treasuring all these words and pondering them in her heart. The Greek word translated as “treasured” means “to preserve (a thing from perishing or being lost)” or “to keep within one’s self.” And the word here translated as “pondering” means “to throw together, to bring together … to converse … to bring together in one’s mind, confer with one’s self.”

by Jack R.

by Jack R.

My sense is that Mary is trying to add this new information to what must already be an incredible whirlwind of wonder and uncertainty and hope and fear at what she herself had been told by an angel in Luke 1: she had found favor with God, her son would be great, that he would be called the Son of the Most High, and that God would give him the throne of his ancestor David.

Really, Mary’s reaction is pretty amazing in its own right—already we’re seeing her transformation from an understandable kind of skepticism to one in which she says “All right, I may not understand what’s going on, but I’ll trust God in it.” But the notable thing for me is that her faithfulness doesn’t mean that she’s stopped thinking: instead she takes this next round of angelic news and wrestles with it, seeing how it fits into her newly-shaped worldview.

In essence, we’re watching her character grow in real time. Bear in mind, she didn’t know how it turned out the way we do. That makes her thoughtful acceptance all the more powerful.

Eric Johnson