For nine months Mary had been on a spiritual, emotional, and physical roller coaster.
Her Emotions Had Been Up
She had received a visit from the angel Gabriel. This included the most precious of assurances; she was favored, loved, and found incredibly delightful to the Heavenly Father. Then came the first mind-blowing announcement: this young teenage virgin would have a son, and this son would be the Promised Jewish Messiah. Then, as if nothing more grand could be imagined, another spectacular announcement followed: the father of Mary’s child would not be Joseph. No, the father would be God Almighty. What blessed news! What a blessed woman she was.
Her Emotions Had Been Down
However, when reality set in, Mary realized the beautiful plan of God included much pain for her and her family. God’s plan would affect the relationship she had with her family, her fiancé, her church, and her community, and this was only the pain she could imagine. The pain she would experience would in actuality be much greater than this. (I.e. Flight to Egypt; Herod’s Massacre; Judicial Misconduct; Tragedy on Golgatha) Yes, Mary knew it, really tough consequences were to accompany her as she traveled the road of discipleship.
Her Emotions Had Been Up
This is why she took off for the hills. Eighty miles away, Zechariah and Elizabeth could be found. They were family. They too had been touched by an angel. They were believers. She could love them, and they could love her. Such Christian fellowship was desperately needed by this young Christian disciple, and God did not disappoint. Therefore, while the young maiden was there with her believing family members, the Holy Spirit fell upon John the Baptist, then Elizabeth, then Mary, and then later upon Zechariah. God had no desire to make his young daughter walk down this tumultuous road on her own. Through angels, through others, through his Spirit, God encouraged his girl.
Then, after three months with Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary received another blessing from the Lord. God had not called her to walk down this beautiful and hard path of discipleship on her own. No, God called her betrothed fiancé as well. Joseph would be her husband, her helper, and her hero. Together, as husband and wife, they would hold one another up as they fulfilled their part in God’s spectacular and strange plan.
Her Emotions Had Been Down
However, Mary’s roller coaster ride was far from over. She was blessed; she was distressed; she was blessed; it was now time for her to be distressed again. From the Scriptures, it was clear that God established all governmental leaders according to his plan. The Bible also taught how God was the ultimate mover and shaker; he was the one who moved the hearts of kings like one redirects water. Therefore, according to God’s omnipotent prerogative, he determined to cause Caesar to determine to register and tax those across the Roman Empire. Oh, what horrible news! What horrible timing!
Consider the pain in her heart. Who wants to give birth to a child on the road? A rest area or truck stop delivery is not found on any expectant mother’s wish list. However, it appeared her baby would be born on the road.
Then consider the pain in her body. At that time in her life, being full-term, retiring in bed was painful. How much more toilsome would have been the 3-5 day journey on a donkey?
Then, once she and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, her trauma went from bad to worse. No reasonable lodging could be found. To make matters worse, no charitable locals or travelers were willing to give up their more comfortable quarters for this woman in need. Pain, confusion, fear, anger, disappointment, humiliation — all of these senses and emotions must have experienced by both Joseph and Mary as this sweet middle school girl began to feel the pangs of delivery, a long way from mom, a long way from home, reclining in the place where animals abode.
Her Emotions Were Back Up
However, the labor pains were endured, and the Holy Child was safely delivered. And when the first cry was heard and the babe – wrapped in strips of cloth — was placed in her arms, how she must have rejoiced in those moments. For the first time, she held her baby. In her arms was God’s Son. There was God’s salvation; there was her Savior; there she looked at the face of the Savior of the world.
Then, out of the darkness, shepherds showed up to visit. Now, shepherds at a manger was nothing odd in and of itself, for shepherds were most often found in barns, pens, and mangers. However, on this evening, they arrived without their sheep. Why? These men had been added to the list of not-likely individuals receiving divine visits, divine revelation, and divine encouragement. On that night, a divine light show and mass choir appeared to them from the sky drawing attention to God’s Gospel. Therefore, with haste they left their sheep with a passionate desire to see Mary’s son, the Christ child, the Lamb of God. And the result was the encouragement of Mary. She was yet again reminded by God, through angels, through shepherds, that God was watching. God was working. Everything was coming together for the glory of God and the good of God’s family.
How did Mary respond?
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.. (Luke 2:19)
Mary treasured all these things in her heart. She memorized them lest she forget anything God had done to, through, with, and for her. In addition, Mary meditated upon these things. In her heart and mind she worked them through over and over again. For the rest of her life, she would need to remind herself of God’s love and power, for her ride on God’s emotional roller coaster was not yet complete.
Will you meditate upon that which you have memorized?
Friends, most of you know this Christmas story. Some of you first heard it from your parents. Others might have learned it from Charlie Brown. Christmas Carols are part of the American tradition. Even unbelievers can sing “Silent Night” and “Away in the Manger” without looking at the hymnal. From the angelic announcement to the magi’s visit, this story has been woven into your heart from your toddler years.
Then, most of you know the Easter story as well. You have heard how the Christ child grew, lived, worshiped, taught, served, and then was betrayed, arrested, slandered, tortured, and executed. Then came Sunday, the day on which Mary’s Son was raised from the grave as the one victorious over the world, the flesh, and the devil. Yes, from the Savior’s arrival to the Savior’s accession, you know the story. It is a part of your heritage. You have memorized it well.
And many of you have found Jesus Christ to be your Prophet, Priest, King, Savior, Lord, Brother, Friend, and Husband. His story is part of your story. He came, because God promised to save you. He died, because God would not have you go to the place prepared for Lucifer and his minions. He rose and ascended, because he is preparing your eternal home. To you, Jesus Christ is more than a historical figure. To you, Jesus Christ is more than a religious teacher. To you, Jesus Christ is your Greatest Lover.
However, despite your relationship with Christ, have you found yourself on God’s emotional roller coaster? Have you been both divinely blessed and distressed as you have willingly walked down his road of discipleship?
Well friends, today I want you to meditate on that which you have memorized. I want you to muse on God’s love and power, not just for the world, but specifically for you. If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, God does not love Mary more than you. You too have been:
- A recipient of God’s Law
- A rebel following Lucifer’s leadership
- An object of God’s wrath
- One deserving of God’s hell
- One whose name has been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life
- One for whom Jesus Christ came to save
- An individual for whom Jesus lived
- An individual for whom Jesus died
- One for whom Jesus works in heaven; he prepares a place for you
- One for whom Jesus prays; he intercedes on your behalf
- Fallen upon, filled, and fruited by the Holy Spirit
- Declared righteous despite what you have done, are doing, and will do
- Eternally secured in his loving and firm grip
- Called to service
- Called to joy
- Called to ride on the emotional roller coaster of God.
Yes friends, you like Mary are being supernaturally blessed while being temporally distressed. However, if you meditate on that which you have memorized, you too can find strength for the journey. God moved heaven and earth for Mary; he does so for all upon whom his favor rests. So memorize that which God has done. Meditate upon that which God has done. Realize you deserve nothing and have it all. Chew on this for a bit. Do not let it go in one ear and out the other. Consider the ramifications of being in God’s chosen family. Then, get ready to enjoy and endure the hills and valleys of God’s roller coaster ride. Along the way, sorrow will pierce your soul, but unfathomable peace and joy will be experienced even in the midst of your trials and tribulations. He loves you. You are part of his family. You are his favorite!