A mother’s heart is like a treasure chest, full of memories, hopes and dreams, worries, thankfulness, sorrow and joy. Precious thoughts are hidden away, known only to her. To discover the ponderings of her heart, is to open up a buried treasure filled with priceless jewels.
I have been reading the gospel of Luke for this advent season. I love the account in chapter 2 about the birth of Jesus. There is one verse, that has always stood out to me, but it has taken on an even greater meaning since becoming a mother to my two little boys.
We read the well known story of Mary and Joseph making the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the multitudes of angels praising God and announcing the birth of Christ to the shepherds, all of those amazing details of God’s provision. Then there is a simple statement in verse 19:
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
Can you imagine what it must have felt like to be the mother of Jesus?! What things must have been going on in the mind and heart of this young woman on that first Christmas night?
We don’t really know that much about Mary. In Luke chapter 1 we learn that she was a young virgin, engaged to a man named Joseph. We know that the angel Gabriel announced to her that she would give birth to the long awaited Messiah. Even though it was a great honor to be the mother of God’s own Son, it was also a very scary thing for a young woman to understand and accept. But Mary humbly and willingly submitted to her life to whatever God had planned.
“Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38
There was Mary, in a stable in Bethlehem. She had journeyed over 70 miles just before going into labor (or perhaps during). She had given birth in a stable because there was no room in any of the inns. She had to use a manger, an animal feeding trough, as her new baby’s crib. And her family had been visited by a group of shepherds saying that angels told them where to find the Savior, who is Christ the Lord. That is quite a lot to ponder!
Just a few weeks later, after Jesus had been circumcised, given His name, and Mary’s purification time had been completed (Luke 21-24), she and Joseph take Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.
At the temple, they meet a old man named Simeon who takes Jesus in his arms and prophesies about Him.
“he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”” Luke 2:28-35
As Mary listened Simeon speak, she couldn’t have fully understood what He meant when he talked about the sword piercing her own soul also. I wonder if she remembered his words more than three decades later, as she stood at the foot of the cross and watched her precious son die for the sins of the world.
After that story, we get so little information about the years between Jesus’ birth, and His adult ministry. All the Bible tells us between infancy and twelve years old is this one verse:
“And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Luke 2:40
I think it is safe to assume that Mary experienced great joy in being Jesus’ mother and raising Him. They must have shared many sweet moments. They probably snuggled, played, laughed, and savored their time together, just like mothers and children do.
I wonder if Mary heard Jesus say, “Mommy look!” every time He learned something new. Did her heart swell to overflowing whenever He said the words “Mommy, I love you”?
Many of us might think our children are “perfect, little angels” who do no wrong. But we know they are only human, and they make mistakes. Mary is the only mother whose child actually was perfect and sinless! That must have been both a blessing and a challenge.
At the end of Luke 2, we get one more look at Jesus as a youth with his family. He is twelve years old, going with them on a trip to Jerusalem for Passover. According to verses 41-52, after the feast His family begins the journey home, thinking Jesus is among the group. But He had lingered, and is in the temple teaching. They backtrack and search for Him for three days before finding Him there. Mary and Joseph are worried and upset. Jesus tells them He has to be about His Father’s (God’s) business. Then He returns home with them. This is the last thing we hear about His life before His public ministry. Again, Luke tells us how Mary kept all these things in her heart, as Jesus continued to grow and mature.
“And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:49-52
As mothers, we spend so much time pondering in our hearts. So many of the memories that we treasure will never be known to anyone else in the world. Even our own children are too young to remember many of the special moments that we share with them in their early years.
We spend countless hours, nursing, rocking, and snuggling our sweet babies. We care for sick toddlers. We bandage their hurts. We feed, clothe, and cover our children in kisses, and hugs. We teach them. And we watch in awe as they learn. We thank God for them. We dream about what they will be and do in their lives. We worry about the dangers in the world, because we know one day we will have to send them into it without us. We love to watch them grow and develop, while at the same time wishing they could stay little. We think, we pray, and then we trust God to guide and protect our beloved children.
Certainly, there were many more times throughout His life that Mary must have quietly pondered God’s plan for her son. She obviously had a close relationship with Jesus. She was there for His first miracle when He turned water into wine at a wedding feast, (John 2:1), she was there when He was crucified, and before dying, He made sure she was taken care of by one of His trusted disciples (John 19:26-27), and Mary was also among the first group of believers who gathered following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven (Acts 1:14).
No matter how young or old our children are, they are always in our hearts. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was not so different from any of us who call ourselves moms. She loved her child for His whole life, and with her whole heart. She stood by Him and believed in Him. She stored up her thoughts quietly, and she trusted God for His will even when she didn’t fully understand it. Yes, to be a mother is to be the keeper of great treasure, buried deep within our hearts and souls. It was said of Mary, and can be said of every mother…she treasures all these things, and she ponders in her heart.