Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Eve, 2007, Luke 2.19

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:19, ESV)

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I once heard about a child who told the story of Christmas. I don’t remember all the ins and outs of it, but I do remember one phrase. Mary treasured up all these things and pounded them into her heart. Well, it makes a certain amount of sense doesn’t it? What second grader is going to know or understand the word pondering? Now, she probably understood the idea of pounding something. If she had brothers, she’d probably even been on the receiving end of a pounding. Her brothers had something they wanted her to know, so they pounded her till she remembered it. That was an object lesson in the making. Mary, the mother of Jesus, pounded these things into her heart. I’m sure she did. All these wonderful events; shepherds, angels, magi, special travel arrangements made in the middle of the night, these things didn’t happen every day. God’s hand in the birth of her child wasn’t subtle. Mary was probably the first human being to really understand the meaning, the reality of God coming into the world in human flesh. She suffered the pains of child birth when God was born. She knew these events were events to be remembered. She pounded them into her heart. When she held the infant Jesus in her arms and fed him at her breast, she must have been overwhelmed to hold God, feed God, and change God’s diapers. She pounded these things into her heart. When she and her husband took him to the temple to be circumcised, on the eight day, when he cried at the pain, at the first shedding of his blood and the prophet told her that her heart would be pierced; she pounded these things into her heart. As he grew, learned to walk and talk, skinned his knees, worked with his Joseph, laughed and played and cried, just like any other completely human growing baby boy; she pounded these things into her heart. When he was twelve and stayed behind in the temple wowing the scribes and the Pharisees with his knowledge of God and his understanding of scripture. She and Joseph were in a panic when they couldn’t find him. They were angry, but soon they understood. Jesus was doing what he had come to do; she pounded these things into her heart. When Jesus ministry began in earnest, when he turned water into wine, when he healed the sick, when he preached to the gathering crowds, he spoke with authority showing he wasn’t just an ordinary prophet; she pounded these things into her heart. She’d need to remember all these things. Her son, isn’t just any human baby, he is the son of God. He wasn’t born to live a life for his own sake. He lived his life for her. He live his life for you. Mary, Jesus’ mother, saw all these things first hand, she saw Jesus living his life for sinful human beings. She saw God’s love expressed in human form. She saw grateful human beings reacting to God, in the flesh; she pounded these things into her heart. So, with Jesus standing bleeding from thorns in his scalp, torn flesh from the Roman scourge, bruises on his face from being pounded with human fists, she recalled the things she had stored up in her heart. She maybe didn’t fully understand why God-in-the-flesh would allow himself to be treated so, but she knew who he was. And so this too, she pounded into her heart. She remembered Simeon’s words about the pain she would endure. With each blow of the hammer that pounded a nail into Jesus hands and feet, she felt the pain she was warned about, a mother’s pain. And yet it was nothing compared to the pain that her son, Jesus bore. You see, this her son, the God-man, Jesus Christ, was born of the virgin for this very purpose. The life he lived, the life Mary pounded into her heart, was lived with the purpose of suffering the guilt and shame of sin. He lived his life to suffer the death of sinful men. What Mary saw on the cross, wasn’t just her son, it was her Savior. With all of his life stored in her heart, what she saw on the cross was the sinless Son of God; God, himself, restoring a relationship to his people. God doing what was necessary, what you and I, (and she) can’t do for ourselves. Jesus Christ, true-God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified dead and buried; And Mary saw it all, and pounded these things in her heart. But it wasn’t over. The joy Mary felt at the birth of God’s son, was given in full measure when he rose again. Then she understood fully what God had done through her son. All that she had pounded in her heart came flowing out in joy.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6, ESV)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, ESV)

So, this evening, what are you pounding into your heart? Christmas gifts, or the Christmas gift? As you listen to the account of your Savior, do you hear about the Savior for you? Do you pound Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection for you into your heart?

Think on Jesus, the son of the Virgin, God in the flesh born for you, and pound that into your heart. Think about Jesus keeping God’s law perfectly for you and pound that into your heart. Think of Jesus suffering for you, think of Jesus dying on the cross for you for the forgiveness of your sin, and pound that into your heart. And pound into your heart the joy that Jesus promises to come again. You will live with him forever.

I guess the little girl had it right. Mary kept all these things and pounded them into her heart. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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