Let us pray: Dear Savior, on this night of Your birth we are filled with awe and wonder, just like those who attended You at Your manger. All present were overjoyed. All present praised the Father and the Holy Spirit for sending You to save us. For everyone it was unforgettable! Tonight cause that same joy to become unforgettable to us! May we ponder Your birth, think deeply about both You and Your mission to save us, and always search Your holy Word to better understand everything about You. For it is only in You that we live, move, and have our very being. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE BLESSED BABE OF BETHLEHEM!
TEXT: Luke 2: 19: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
Fellow Redeemed in the Christ Child:
Right now, right here, time is standing still. On Christmas Eve when we’re in church, surrounded by lit candles, love on all sides, and happy hearts, Christ the Light of the world causes us to be captured by the moment. O that such joy could continue unabated!
We know from Luke’s account of Christ’s birth that the shepherds were filled with awe and wonder over their trip to the manger. We know that they “spread the word” to Bethlehem about His birth. But, what about later on? Did their Christmas treasure of pure joy continue to grow in their hearts? Or, did the memory fade with time, and hence the joy as well? Only Mary is spoken of as an exception. As one commentator has written: “All the people wondered, but Mary thought on all the wonderful things that happened to herself and to the shepherds. This distinction must be made in the present day. Many a person is struck by the beauty of the Gospel-story and expresses his views accordingly, but few there are that take the time to meditate upon the great facts of our salvation, to move them back and forth in their hearts, to examine them from all sides, to discover all the beauties of these priceless treasures.”
I believe that Lutheran commentator has said it well. And so, tonight I want to briefly speak to you on this theme:
KEEP YOUR CHRISTMAS TREASURE!
According to John’s gospel, Christ is the “Word made flesh.” He is the bodily incarnation of the truths of the entire Bible. In Him we see God’s very essence. We see God’s love, God’s forgiveness for all human sin, and God’s huge heart. Here in the manger that love is simple, a Baby, yet O so profound! A Baby comes to lead and save adults and children alike. A Baby comes to take us by the hand and assist us on our journey to eternal life. Humanly speaking that is absurd. But, it’s not human’s who speak these truths, it is God Almighty! And thus they are eternally true. It’s humbling to us. And yet, the grown up Baby later says: “whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Like all good Jewish children, Mary was deeply schooled in the Old Testament and its many prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. She knew God’s Anointed One would grow up to give His life to make human beings right with God. “God was in Christ reconciling the world, not holding their sins against them anymore.” And now, at the manger those truths were playing on her mind. She knew that she had to have faith in her own Baby. For only by believing in Him and letting Him lead and guide her would her salvation be secured.
We know that Mary’s joy over Christ’s birth didn’t end after that first Christmas was but a memory. For 12 years later, after she and Joseph found Christ in the temple and went back home to Nazareth, Luke says this about her: “But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Yes, as she watched her Son grow up and later accompanied Him to the wedding at Cana and tasted His first miracle, her Christmas treasure of joy stayed with her. The Messiah was showing His glory! Her Son was starting to reveal the reason behind His birth. Even when Christ was dying on a cross and gave St. John the injunction to take care of His mother, Mary’s heart, although torn apart, must have retained some of that Christmas joy, too. For this is what He was born to do! And then, when Easter arrived, the circle of her joyous treasure was made complete. He had saved the world. Her Baby had saved her!
The simplicity of Christmas is attractive to many. Many attending church tonight want to be just like the shepherds. That want to peer in the manger, see their Savior, and have their hearts filled with awe and wonder. In fact, all of us want that. That’s why we’ve come. But Christ, the Eternal Word, caused Luke to write of Mary’s reaction for a reason. That reason being: He doesn’t want us to merely experience what we could call: “Christmas Lite.” No, He wants us to experience the profundity of His birth in all its glory. He wants us to honor Him be delving into all the mysteries of His Word, of Him, since He is the Word made flesh. He wants us to take all His commands, directives, and message seriously. He wants us to treasure every truth He gives us in the Bible. And when we do that, our joy over His birth is made complete. It won’t fade. It won’t recede into the background noise of our lives. It will be living and active. So, if you want to bottle what you’re feeling tonight, if you truly want to keep your Christmas treasure, continue to delve deeply into what this night means. It means that God has come to save your soul. He has come in humbleness and love. And He continues to do so every day via His Word, giving Himself to you, as you ponder His message in your Bibles, as you recall His washing of your life in baptism, and as you partake of His priceless Body and Blood in His Supper. You might think, as many do, that the manger was destroyed and is lost to us today. Not so! For its joyous power lives on in the Word made flesh. Or, as Christ’s Word says: “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” Amen