Summary: Just like Mary, we can treasure up the wonder and joy of Christmas in our hearts.
Every year at Christmastime we hear people tell us what the holiday means to them. For some people Christmas is a time for opening gifts, eating cookies, visiting with families and friends. For others it’s a time of hectic schedules and endless “to do” lists. And then there are those who simply say that Christmas is for children.
How about you? What is Christmas to you? Well, before we answer that question, let us look to God’s Word and see what Christmas means to the people we find there. One such person is Mary. This evening, we will take a look at CHRISTMAS: FROM MARY’S EYES. As we do, the Holy Spirit will lead us to see that Christmas is about 1) A Promise Worth Keeping and that its also about 2) A Gift Worth Treasuring.
1) A Promise Worth Keeping
St. Luke gives us the most detailed account of Jesus’ birth. It is a simple narration. The simplicity of the story helps to bring out the beauty and importance of what’s recorded. What the Lord allowed to be recorded is more than a simple story, though. It is the historical record of our Savior’s birth. This was a story, which Luke tells us, “Mary treasured up and pondered in her heart.”
Consider all she the things she had to think over. First, we’re told how it was that she and Joseph went to Bethlehem. It happened while Caesar Augustus was ruler over the Roman Empire. In those days, that included most of Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa. Caesar wanted to take a census for the purpose of taxation. The Jewish way of recording people was not according to the place where they lived, but according to the family to which they belonged. That meant each person went to the home-village of his family.
Mary and Joseph lived in the town of Nazareth in the province of Galilee. Both were of the “house and line of David,” the most famous king of Israel. So it was necessary for the two of them to travel to Bethlehem, a distance of approximately 80 miles. I’m sure Mary remembered that trip well. Luke tells us that Mary was pledged to marry Joseph and that she “was expecting a child.” Keep in mind that Mary did not ride along in the back seat of a Lincoln Continental or cushy SUV. The two of them made the journey on foot and on the back of a donkey. No doubt Mary remembered this trip!
Once in Bethlehem, the miracle took place. Mary gave birth to a child. Luke tells us it was “her firstborn, a son.” This birth was also something Mary would not soon forget. If you’ve ever given birth – or even witnessed a birth – it is a memory that stays with you a lifetime. Now, imagine the surroundings in which Mary had her child! There was no warm bed, most likely just a pile of straw; no nurses or doctors, just her husband and a bunch of curious and frightened farm animals.
And, yet, this whole ordeal was something Mary treasured up and pondered in her heart. She cherished these memories. She looked on them with wonderment and with a smile. The reason was that Mary knew exactly why this child was born. He came into the world to be our Savior, just as the angel Gabriel had foretold.
Christmas, according to Mary, is all about a promise worth keeping. It’s about a promise God made before the beginning of time and one, which he fulfilled in that stable in Bethlehem. This is the very promise which the apostle Paul remembered as he wrote to the Galatians, “When the time had fully come God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” That’s what Christmas is all about. It’s about a child – the Son of God – who was born for us. He was born to rescue us from the curse of sin and death. He was born to die, so that he could rise again and destroy death’s grasp forever. And God did this according to his divine timetable. The child that Mary held was her Savior. Jesus was born to free our sons and daughters. That child was born to make us children of God through the forgiveness in his blood.
2) A Gift Worth Treasuring
The emotions that must have coursed through Mary as she tried to consider this miracle! This was, indeed, a promise worth keeping. God loves us that much. What love he showered on Mary as he chose her to be the mother of his only begotten Son. That night Mary experienced the blessed power of God’s grace. The very first Christmas – something to treasure.