What Did Mary Know?

maryHave you ever taken a moment to consider the momentous thoughts of Mary? I have, and I do, whenever I read  Luke 2: “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

When Mary pondered the magnitude of the angelic message, and the adoring words of the shepherds,  did she fully comprehend the magnificent meaning of that first Christmas?

When she gazed into the eyes of her innocent son, could she mentally grasp what she would emotionally gasp 30 years later when he took on the sin of the world?

How could she know that the son nurtured in her womb would have such a significant future and manifest awesome and miraculous power over creation?  Did Mary have an aha moment when Jesus changed the water into wine at the marriage supper at Cana?

Was she pleasingly puzzled when her son had a leg up on the religious charlatans of the day and healed the legs of a crippled man?

When Mary saw a crowd of hungry faces suddenly satisfied by a sack lunch that was multiplied 5,000 times, did she realize that her son could also satisfy the spiritual hunger of the world?

When her son of a carpenter was dying an excruciating death on a wooden cross, did her anguish confound her comprehension of God’s ultimate plan?

How fast did her heart beat when she heard that her three-days-dead son had removed his grave clothes, rolled away a massive stone, run off a squad of soldiers, and became the resurrection and life to all who would believe?

There are some things that I ponder in my heart:
• How could Jesus understand everything, but be misunderstood by most everyone?
• Who was his best childhood friend? Could it have been a boy named Judas?
• What did he and his cousin John (later called the Baptist) talk about?
• Did his brothers and sisters see him as unique or annoyingly odd?

I wonder, Mary Did You Know?





The Testing of Character

While listening to a discussion, I heard a comment made about a particular person:  “He comes from a family that has never suffered from a shortage of self-esteem, and he oozes narcissism.”  That comment reminded me that a trainload of healthy habits can be derailed by a single character flaw.

A good example of someone whose character was tested and remained unblemished is Daniel.  In the book that bears his name, we are told that, “Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank.”

As a captive in a foreign land, Daniel found himself in a difficult position.  He had to find a way to comply but not deny.  How could he obey a king and stay faithful to the King of kings?

Daniel followed the edicts of King Nebuchadnezzar until it came to eating the food from the his table.  Because the food had been offered to Babylonian idols and most likely violated dietary restrictions, Daniel tactfully refused to eat it.

The tension for Daniel was a decision between compromised compliance and righteous reliance.  Would his character be solid or soiled?

In Psalm 105, there is a historical account of the mysterious workings of God and the way he used Joseph.  It is apparent that God took the time to develop the character of Joseph:

When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him. The king sent and released him; the ruler of the peoples set him free; he made him lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions.

Like Joseph, Paul was stalwart and steadfast in his service to God.  His faith was unshakable, and his character was resolute.  These qualities give credence to his words in Romans 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Take a few moments to think about the role of faith, hope, and endurance and the manner in which they influence your character.

The Human Element

As I was doing a mental thumb-through of some biblical stories, the human element was center stage time and time again.  In this human element, we can find encouragment for the daily trials of life.

As most of us know, life can be full of challenges.  The next time you are faced with one, think about Moses.  He had the challenge of leading over a million people out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, through the wilderness, and to the promised land.  Throughout this difficult journey, we see that provisions were provided for each step he took.

Has anyone ever betrayed you?  Do you still have a desire to even the score?  If so, you might identify with the story of Joseph.  He was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and imprisioned.  Joseph’s faith never wavered, and it was God who evened the score.

How about disappointment?  Have you ever been disappointed by some person or some thing?  The air was full of disappointment on that long-ago Friday when Jesus died.  All of the hopes and dreams of the disciples were focused on this radical, new-found Messiah.  Some of His followers had been ostracized by society and others had been shunned by their families.  And now,  their dream had become a nightmare on the cruel cross of Calvary.

This disappointment had caused some of disciples to leave Jerusalem.  As they walked the dusty road to Emmaus, heavy hearts and a spirit of dispair overcame them.  They thought their lives were changed forever because Jesus had died.

They were right, but only half right.  Thinking the play was over they left at intermission, and they missed the final act.  A few days later the disappointment of these Christians vanished with the appearance of the resurrected Saviour.

The next time life starts to kick you and drag you down, remember there is a very human element in the pages of the Bible.  Remember that the God who did great things back then, is the same God who is at work now.  He has promised us the present of His presence in our darkest hour.

I hope this is enough to keep you thinking.