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Dec 15 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

December 11, 2016 – Luke 1:26-38

Holiday Food for Thought

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. Luke 1:26-29

Intro: Mary was one of a kind

Never has anyone else been asked to become what she became
– the surrogate mother of the Messiah, the Son of God
• nevertheless, her uniqueness illustrates something:
◦ a response to God that is necessary universal
• the response is a way of holding the gifts of Spirit that bears the fruit of the Spirit
◦ a way to receive life so that it gives birth to more life
◦ Mary signified her acceptance of God’s will when she said:

May it be done to me according to your word (Lk. 1:38)

– Mary received God’s word into her whole self; heart, mind, soul and body
• the baby within her was infinitely more than her body,
◦ nevertheless, he was sheltered and nourished by her body
◦ in this way he became a human person in our world
• when we give our consent to God’s word to live and work within us, it reproduces life

Mary’s initial response wasn’t enthusiastic joy

In verse 29 she was perplexed and kept pondering the angelic greeting
– perplexed sounds like “confused,” but the Greek word hints at “disturbed”
• the word translated pondering means “to turn over in the mind”
• she was trying to penetrate the meaning of this unusual greeting
ponder is one of four words Luke uses regarding Mary’s thought process
• I do not think Luke’s use of these words was incidental
• they reveal something about Mary’s inner life
◦ the way Mary moved along in God’s will

How do we respond to things that perplex and disturb us?
– the surprise events that do not make sense?
• the avalanche of emotions that overwhelm us?
• do we ignore them? Suppress them? Try to manage them?
– sometimes the best thing to do is simply to sit with them
• bring them into God’s presence and roll them around in our hearts and minds
◦ without immediately forming a judgment or straining to solve the riddle
• observing the inner working of our brains and bodies
◦ what is it my brain is hanging onto and how is this effecting me?
◦ I like to think Mary’s song was the fruit of her pondering

This is one of the lessons we learn from Mary
– we ponder what God and the world bring to us
• and if we can do this without stress or resistance,
• we will be able to move on to the next thing

We go now from the announcement to the birth

Shepherds have come breathless to the manger
– telling stories of angels and a Savior, Christ the Lord
• then off they go again, waking the whole village,
◦ leaving everyone in bewilderment

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

• she took a step back from all the excitement
◦ returned to the quiet of her own heart
◦ and there she held on to the gift she was given

The words Luke uses here for her thought processes are:
– treasured (Grk. to keep, to preserve)
• we shelter memories that are important to us
– ponder translates a different Greek word here (Grk. to combine)
• this is what our brains do and how we learn
◦ it is a process of making associations
◦ we combine new information with what we already know
• our brains search for connections
◦ usually, our most effective learning is by analogy
◦ for example, The kingdom of heaven is like . . . .

One other word
– Luke did not use the indefinite article things, in regard to what Mary pondered
reemata (Grk) refers specifically to things spoken 
• Mary held the shepherds’ words close to her heart — Why?
◦ so as not to lose them, but be able to retrieve them later on
◦ to prepare herself for when they would make sense — how they would play out in the life of her Son
– by the way, how do we know she treasured these spoken things in her heart?
• I assume that she divulged this information to Luke (cf. Lk. 1:3)
◦ she shared with him her treasures
• when we sit with God in prayerful reflection,
◦ we return to our treasures, to what has become most precious to us

In our next scene, Jesus is twelve years old (Lk. 2:41-52)

He still honors and obeys his parents,
– but he is also becoming his own person
• so when Mary scolds him for causing them alarm,
◦ Jesus’ response is just short of backtalk

Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you now know that I had to be in My Father’s house? (Lk. 2:50)

◦ although his parents did not understand what he meant,

His mother treasured all these things in her heart (Lk. 2:51)

– treasure here (Grk) is “to watch (over),” carefully keep
• and, again, it’s the things spoken (reemata) she hangs on to

It is interesting to me, how Jesus downplays his biological relationship to Mary
– and her biological role in his birth and nurturing
• one time Mary came calling for him, but the house was too crowded for her to enter
◦ when someone informed him that his mother and brothers wanted to speak with him,
◦ Jesus gestured to the people sitting at his feet and said,

My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it (Lk. 8:21)

– on another occasion,

. . . one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Lk. 11:27-28)

• notice the similarity with those he previously identified as his family
• of course, Mary was blessed in this spiritual way as well as others
◦ and for the Lord, that is what counted

In each of these episodes, there are two parallel tracks

First, there is the story itself – the actions performed and the words spoken
– then we follow the other track that shows us what was going on inside of Mary
• she steped outside of ordinary clock time to reflect
• she penetrated the surface to ponder the depth
– without reflection, life just happens to us
• but with reflection, we do not just look at things, but through them
• it is a movement from the periphery to the center
◦ this is how we leave the ruts of habitual thoughts and our endless rational questions

Conc: There are certain assumptions that may be helpful to take into our prayerful reflection

  1. Life is not without meaning
    – however (and this is important), the meaning is not always obvious
    • and in some cases, it may never come to light
    • therefore events occur that seem random and meaningless
    – we learn to trust that God will fit these things into the meaning of our lives
  2. There are messages everywhere
    – lessons to be learned, insights to be discovered
    • pondering analogies, treasuring words, reflecting on scripture uncovers lessons and insights
    • or they may uncover beauty, joy, goodness, and the presence of God
  3. For making valuable mental associations, it can useful to use our imagination and creativity

Mary provides us an example of surrender to God,
accepting his Word without reservation,
and giving consent for her body to be a channel of his love

As we receive God’s living Word into our hearts
and allow it to work transformation
through the power of the Spirit who hovers over us,
we become entry points for God’s word in world

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His (2 Chr. 16:9)

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