There was a lot of noise on the night of Jesus’ birth. The fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan was taking center stage, and heaven shouted the news to a group of shepherds. They listened to the announcement, left to find Jesus, and were the first to encounter the majesty of the incarnation.
Mary and Joseph had most likely experienced a quiet night. No fanfare. No family or friends to celebrate the arrival of their firstborn child. They hadn’t witnessed the glorious announcement from the angels so it may have come as quite a surprise when a group of shaken up and boisterous shepherds arrived to worship their baby boy.
The shepherds’ response to Jesus was far from quiet. They made it known. And that was good and right.
But I love what Luke tells us about Mary’s response. Mary, the young girl who had already been visited by an angel and obediently accepted her role in the plan of redemption; the one who had given birth to the Messiah; the one who knew that her baby was the Son of God. If anyone had a platform to speak about the wonder and majesty of God, it was Mary.
“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
There is a place for announcing the things that God is doing in our lives. Scripture is full of examples and teaching about proclaiming the works of God and giving testimony to His greatness.
But Scripture also teaches about the secret place. The intimacy between God and man that isn’t obvious to the rest of the world.
Mary had been carrying Jesus in her womb for nine months. As a mother I know that pregnancy stirs many thoughts and emotions, particularly when it’s your first child. Add to that the fact that Mary was growing and caring for the Messiah. On the night of his birth, when you would think she might want to have some discussions with those around her, Mary takes it all in. There was much to be said about the shepherds, the fact that she had to place her baby in a manger, the news of angels in the sky shouting about the birth of her son, and the immense responsibility she now had of raising the Messiah.
Yet she keeps quiet. During her first encounters with Jesus outside of the womb, she found it necessary to treasure and ponder what was happening. This word for treasure carries the idea of preserving, and even can be translated as protecting something from ruin. When something is preserved, it doesn’t lose its flavor, its consistency, or its smell. Everything about it remains intact and when it’s used it is just as delightful as the day it went through the process of preservation. This is what Mary was doing as she treasured and pondered, or considered all that had taken place. The work of God in her life and through the life of her newborn son was leaving an impression in her mind and she didn’t want to forget it or lose its wonder.
This kind of treasuring is important for us. It’s easy to read something and feel encouraged by Scripture, or to hear a good sermon and feel inspired. But how quickly we forget. We move on to the next thing and before too long those truths have slipped to the background. When we treasure the works and words of God in our hearts, taking time to consider and ponder them, they stick.
When we meditate on the Word of God it begins to take root in our souls. The things we learn about God and how to walk with him become more than just commands or good ideas. They start shaping our lives and we’re able to preserve the word of God in our hearts.
Preserving, or treasuring, the works of God in our hearts means that we don’t lose the impact and power of what God has done. His word remains powerful. His works come to mind and we rejoice over and over again because they haven’t lost their delight.
Maybe today, during this Advent season, we need to be quiet. To ponder what God is doing. To treasure Him in our hearts and allow Him to do a work in the secret place of our souls. Maybe the best choice is to sit down, listen, wait, watch, and grow. Being quiet doesn’t mean that God isn’t at work or what He’s doing is unimportant. It simply provides an opportunity to grow in fellowship and communion with Jesus. Great things can happen as we encounter Jesus in the secret place of abiding in him, getting caught up in the quietness of treasuring Jesus.
This is part four of a series, Encounters with Jesus: An Advent Devotional