1 January 2016Luke 2:15-21
“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” (v. 19)
Psalm: Psalm 8
Mary is central to the account in the first two chapters of Luke's Gospel. She brings together the stories of Jesus and John, which no one else does. We could say, though we don't know, that the whole story comes from her. We read that she visited Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1:56), so she must surely have been present at the birth of John, though the narrative takes no notice of her. Thus, she is bearer of 'the word' in two senses. She is also prophetic and possibly a preacher, sharing the message with hearers after the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Given the dramatic events we read here - angels appearing and announcing Jesus' birth - followed by the shepherds spreading the word, it is odd that things are quiet for the next 30 years. Of course in the story we do not have long gaps, we go from the reactions of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35) and Anna (Luke 2:36-38), through Jesus' encounter in the temple (Luke 2:41-52, see Sunday's notes too) to the appearance of John the Baptist (we are out of sequence this week). The momentum is maintained, even though we do not know what happened in between.
How did other people react? Presumably the news of the shepherds added to the general fervour of Messianic expectation in the population, who then waited 30 years for some fulfilment by which time they had forgotten the story of angels and a miraculous birth, nor was Jesus that kind of Messiah.
Mary, however, ponders, making sense of it all. We can ponder too over how much she may have influenced the style and approach of the Gospel writer.
- How important is Mary to you? Do you agree with her central importance? Why?
- How does the announcement of Jesus' birth fit with the 30-year wait for the start of his ministry?