Monday, December 12, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Immanuel

Rendering a Response to Immanuel

A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” 
–Luke 2:19 (NIV)

Waking up the day after Thanksgiving ushers in a host of holiday traditions. One of my favorites has to be the mysterious overnight transition of radio stations to all Christmas music, all the time. While I have many “favorites”, one that moves my heart annually is “Mary Did You Know?” Its soul-stirring lyrics never cease to move my heart to ponder what Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, actually might have known.

It seems most Israelites studied then Torah and had extensive book knowledge and teaching about the Messiah. They had passages memorized about how He would come to the world, how He would leave the world, and highlights of what He would accomplish through His incarnation. Yet it still seems many missed the main messages taught in the temple and written in the scrolls. And when Jesus actually arrived on the scene, many missed Him completely and reacted in ways we can hardly fathom. In fact, in the Bible, we see as many responses to the arrival of Immanuel as there are people engaged in the experience.

As the Gospel of Luke recounts the story, we encounter an angel delivering the sensational news of the arrival of Jesus to shepherds in the fields. Proclaiming His arrival, pacifying the frightened shepherds, and praising God with a host of angels joining in, these messengers expressed adoration, appreciation, and joy at the magnificent news they were entrusted to deliver.

We find the shepherds went through a range of emotions and reactions. Their initial fear turned into curiosity that drove them to “hurry” to Bethlehem. Upon seeing Jesus with his new parents, the shepherds became evangelists, sharing the astonishing news with everyone they could. Finally, they returned to the fields glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.

One might miss the short sentence thrown in the middle of this exciting account of Christ’s birth if they weren’t paying attention. Nestled in Luke 2:19 (NIV) we learn that while all of this was happening around her, Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” While the angels made a heavenly and earthly commotion, Mary chose to store the events in the recesses of her heart. When the shepherds visited, and with excitement shared the news about Jesus with everyone they could, Mary quietly contained her thoughts and emotions to process and ponder them internally.

In the Book of Matthew, we learn King Herod’s jealousy of what he heard about Jesus moved him to deceit and plotting murder. Fearing (quite illogically) that Jesus would eventually take over his throne, Herod tried to trick the wise men into revealing where they found Jesus. When they failed to return with the information he desired, Herod ordered the death of every child in Bethlehem under the age of two, hoping he would kill the child everyone was worshipping and claiming to be king of the Jews.

At the same time, wise men traveled approximately 400 miles, estimated to have taken months as they traveled by night, following the star which “filled them with joy”. When they finally made it to Jesus, they offered gifts and bowed down to worship the baby in a manger. In the midst of this we are only told that Mary thought carefully about all these things but seemingly kept her reactions and emotions inside.

Yes, the reactions to Jesus were many and it makes me wonder: What is my reaction to Jesus Christ's arrival into the world? What is yours? Each year we have an opportunity to revisit this and remind ourselves that the Christmas holiday is far more than decked halls and trimmed trees. His miraculous manifestation onto the Earth can’t be ignored and demands a response. What will ours be this year? While it may not go as far as deceit and plotting murder, we might get so caught up in finding the perfect gift, making the perfect holiday menu, or perfectly decorating our house that we lose sight of the perfect baby born in a manger on a rescue mission for us.

I think Mary had the right idea with her pondering and treasuring. This year let’s commit to making time to sit with The Holy Spirit, pondering Christ’s arrival, treasuring His selfless incarnation, and refocusing our hearts on the reason for the season.

Let’s Pray:

Holy Lord, as we enter the Christmas season, we invite You into our hearts and homes with joy and expectancy, celebrating Your selfless arrival into our earthly experience. You could have opted out of the rescue mission that would cost You everything, but You decided we were worth it, choosing to leave Your home in Heaven for a humble manger stall. Pour Your presence into our hearts, prompting peace and gratitude for You while reminding us of the real reason for this special season. We love You, we adore You, and we worship You. Thank You for Your indescribable gift. In Jesus’s precious name we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Jesus Born On This Day” by AVALON. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Cyndi Staudt is a Jesus-loving, adrenaline junkie who is devoted to living her life for Jesus Christ until the day she is living with Him. 

With a passion for cultivating a craving for God’s Word, her devotions and Bible studies are saturated with faith and hope to stir your soul to connect with God in deeper, more intimate ways.

Through her writing she hopes to ignite your desire to read God’s Word, invite your heart to experience God’s love, and inspire you to live your live life “souled out” to the One whose love has no limits.

Connect with Cyndi on Instagram:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.