“But she was greatly troubled at this statement, and

kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be.” (Luke 1:29)

Mary, the mother of Jesus, would be labeled a child-bride by today’s standards in many parts of the world; however, her response to motherhood shows maturity and wisdom beyond her years. Her life changes dramatically starting with a visit from the angel Gabriel, who proclaims she has found favor with God. Her first response is alarm. Gabriel reassures her, then explains her role in the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah. The favor bestowed on her is undeserved, an act of grace by God. How does Mary respond? She submits herself completely to the words of the angel and the will of the Lord.

Soon after Gabriel’s visit, Mary receives a blessing from her cousin Elizabeth, a blessing prompted by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41-45). Elizabeth proclaims Mary blessed among women for being chosen by God and blessed to be carrying the Christ-child (Luke 1:42). The Greek word eulogeo, translated in verse 42 as blessed, means to speak well of or praise. Mary will be praised by others who will recognize she is chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah.

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 1:45) In verse 45, Elizabeth again declares Mary blessed, but blessed in a different way. In this verse the Greek word translated as blessed is makarios. It implies to be indwelt by God. Two witnesses, the angel Gabriel and the Holy Spirit speaking through Elizabeth, have now proclaimed that Mary is chosen by God and indwelt by God. How does Mary respond? She composes a song, filled with praise for what God has done for her and for the nation of Israel (Luke 1:46-55). As unique as the call of the Lord God on her life, is her response to His calling.

Mary delivers her first-born in Bethlehem and they name him Jesus. Shortly after the birth, she and her husband Joseph are visited by a group of shepherds. The shepherds describe an appearance of angels earlier that night and share the angel’s message about the birth of the Savior, Christ the Lord; then they return to their flock, “. . . glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen . . .” (Luke 2:20).

The similarities between the angelic visits to Mary and to the shepherds are noteworthy (compare Luke 1:26-38 and Luke 2:8-16). In both situations, the angelic appearance is alarming and the angels offer reassurance; i.e., “do not be afraid.” The message is personal and encouraging. Mary is told she is favored and the Lord is with her. The shepherds are told the angels bring “good news of great joy.” David, former king of Israel, is spoken of in both accounts: (1) David, an ancestor of Joseph, (2) the throne of David which will be given to Jesus, and (3) Bethlehem, the city of David.

The response to the angelic visits is also remarkable. Both Mary and the group of shepherds believe the messages and receive them with joy. In each account they learn of the fulfillment of prophecies regarding the Jewish Messiah. How do the shepherds respond? They go directly to Bethlehem to see the Christ child. No hesitation, no discussion, no doubt. Then after seeing him, they declare (certify) the message to those whom they meet. Their words have impact. Those who hear it wonder or marvel at the message, with a sense of admiration (Luke 2:17-20).

How does Mary respond to the visit from the shepherds and the message they bring? “But Mary   treasured   all  these  things  , pondering  them in her heart .” (Luke 2:19) What is meant by the words treasured and pondering? The Greek word suntereo, translated in verse 19 as treasured, occurs three times in the New Testament. Jesus used it in a parable in the context of preserving something valuable (Mat 9:17; Luke 5:38{KJV}). Mark tells us how Herod protected John the Baptist, using the same word translated as “kept him safe” (Mark 6:20). The word suntereo implies to keep something close and/or to keep something in mind, so that it is not forgotten.

What were “all these things” that Mary treasured and pondered? Was it only the message brought by the shepherds? Perhaps she pondered the circumstances of her pregnancy. Instead of being shamed and shunned by Joseph, her family, and her community for being with child before her marriage to Joseph was consummated, she was praised. To Mary the angel reveals the deity of her son and the fulfillment of prophecy both current and future. The angel states that her son Jesus will be great, Son of the most High, the Son of God, who will reign over the house of David forever, and will have a kingdom without end. The angelic visit to the shepherds reveals the mission of her son. He is a savior, born for them; his birth is “good news of a great joy for all the people.” He is the Messiah, Christ the Lord. The surreal visit by the Angel Gabriel was now confirmed by a living, breathing child held to her breast, and the angel’s message expanded by the witness of the shepherds. Mary treasured and pondered and praised “all these things.”