Merry Christmas.

The first two chapters of Luke are just a flurry of action and scene changes.

Then in Luke 2:19, there is a pause. We are given a moment to catch our breath, because Mary has been given a moment to catch her breath.

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."


This verse has always fascinated me. It's really not that profound. The Greek behind it isn't that complex or anything. I'll tell you why I like it. In the midst of surprise pregnancies, surprise road trips, surprise lodgings, and surprise visitors, the Gospel tries to remind us that Mary is taking it all in and trying to understand it. Probably the same way you and I would be taking it all in and trying to understand it. Frankly, the Bible doesn't always seem concerned with the head space of it's main characters. When it does, it's refreshing. After the events of the first two chapters, Luke says that Mary needed some time to think. To ponder what she had been through.

The Greek word used here that is often translated "pondered" is used a few other times by Luke. It can mean "to help" (Acts 18:27) or "to meet" (Acts 20:14), but usually it has the sense of "to consider, ponder" or, if it's more than one person, "to discuss, debate." Whether it's one or more than one person, it's the idea of getting to the right meaning or understanding of something.

In Acts 4:15, Peter and John are asked to leave a special council they were testifying before, so that the council might "ponder" the matter together. They wanted to get to the right meaning or understanding.

In Acts 17:18, some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers are described as "pondering" (in the sense of debating) with Paul. They wanted to get to the right meaning or understanding. Or rather, they wanted Paul to do so.
 
Luke 2:19 is not describing a new mother rocking her perfectly behaved baby in front of a fireplace, looking into the eyes of her beautiful boy, amazed at how blessed she is. It's describing someone who isn't sure what to make of recent events, and is deeply considering how best to understand them. For those of us who will celebrate Christmas tomorrow, I hope we take a moment to ponder it's significance.

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