Luke 2:19

‘Mary kept all these sayings,
pondering them in her heart.’
(Luke 2:19)

It’s good to ponder what God has revealed to us, like we see Mary doing in this verse. She was born into a world with only the Old Testament, and it seems she was a devout ponderer of that revealed truth, even before the life-changing events that Luke records her pondering here. For example, ‘Mary’(Luke 1:56) was close to Elizabeth, a ‘relative’(Luke 1:36), who was married to a ‘priest named Zacharias’(Luke 1:5), both of whom were ‘righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord’(Luke 1:6). No doubt Mary lived similarly. Moreover, she ‘was engaged to Joseph… a righteous man’(Matthew 1:18-19), and certainly regarded herself as the Lord’s ‘“servant”’(Luke 1:48), even before God miraculously intervened in her life.

So, when ‘the angel Gabriel… said to her, “you have found favour with God… you will conceive… and give birth to a son… Jesus… the Son of the Most High… There will be no end to His Kingdom… the power of the Most High will overshadow you… the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God”’(Luke 1:26-35), she responded with humble faith and obedience, saying ‘“let it be done to me according to your word”’(Luke 1:38, cf. v45).

This angelic announcement gave her some amazing new revelations to ponder, now part of our New Testament, no doubt included because Mary ‘kept’ them close to her heart for many years, pondering. These opening chapters of Luke’s gospel include some further similar things that she treasured up, like Elizabeth prophetically calling her ‘“the mother of my Lord”’(Luke 1:43) when Elizabeth’s unborn child, John the Baptist, ‘“leaped… for joy”’(Luke 1:44) on Mary’s arrival (newly pregnant with Jesus). Then shepherds turned up after Jesus’s birth, prompted by an angel announcing ‘“a Saviour… Christ the Lord”’(Luke 2:11). A few weeks later Simeon referred to the baby Jesus as ‘“salvation… before the face of all peoples; a light for revelation to the nations”’(Luke 2:30-32) and ‘Anna, a prophetess’(Luke 2:36), said something similar. Luke concludes this section of his gospel with Jesus, aged 12, referring to the temple as ‘“my Father’s house”’(Luke 2:49), again commenting that Mary ‘kept all these sayings in her heart’(Luke 2:51).

Interestingly, Mary had ‘about thirty years’(Luke 3:23) to ponder most of this before these ‘sayings’ began to be fulfilled. Moreover, there was so much she didn’t know during that time, i.e., everything recorded in the rest of Luke’s gospel, his sequel (the book of Acts), and beyond. She possibly had some vague ideas, gleaned from the Old Testament prophets, who ‘sought and searched diligently… prophesied of the grace that would come… the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that would follow’(1 Peter 1:10-11). However, as with the disciples later, there would have been much that she didn’t understand, until over three decades later the risen Jesus explained everything in ‘the Scriptures… concerning Himself’(Luke 24:27). Nevertheless, she responded with this humble faith and obedience mentioned above, and obviously considerable patience too, until one day, at a wedding, she ‘said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it…”(John 2:5), and Jesus began to reveal ‘His glory’(John 2:11).

Obviously we can understand more than was possible for Mary during those years, although notably still only ‘in a mirror, dimly… in part’(1 Corinthians 13:12). Even so, we can enjoy these New Testament scriptures now, which along with all ‘Scripture is God-breathed… profitable for teaching’(2 Timothy 3:16) etc., and so ponder this more sharply focused ‘word of Christ… richly’(Colossians 3:16). We might not always fully understand, but can respond with Mary’s humble faith, obedience and patience, like Abraham earlier, who ‘went out, not knowing where’(Hebrews 11:8). Such paths can sometimes be painful, like when Mary stood ‘by Jesus’ cross’(John 19:25) feeling ‘“a sword… pierce [her] own soul”’(Luke 2:35) too. Nevertheless, their end will always be ‘“blessed”’(Luke 1:48), ‘heavenly’(Hebrews 11:16) and ‘perfect’(Hebrews 11:40).

Finally, it’s of note that Luke records ‘Mary the mother of Jesus’(Acts 1:14) amongst the early believers, shortly before ‘Pentecost’(Acts 2:1ff.), alongside ‘Peter, John…’(Acts 1:13) and the other ‘apostles’(Acts 1:26). So she must have believed, with them, that Jesus had ‘no sin… in Him’(1 John 3:5) and that we are redeemed by His ‘precious blood… a lamb without blemish or spot, the blood of Christ’(1 Peter 1:19) – quite a testimony, considering she knew this first 30 years better than anyone. As Paul put it, we can be reconciled to God because ‘Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’(2 Corinthians 5:21), Mary included.

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