Some Christmas carols lend themselves to the backdrop of special moments in the Christmas story in unique ways. When the shepherds curiously approached the Mary and the Christ child, the chorus of “O come let us adore Him. O come let us adore Him. O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord” is fitting.
And the way Luke describes these scenes before the manger, the love coming from Mary almost seems to be the inspiration for the title of the Christmas carol: O Come All Ye Faithful.
The arrival of Jesus was an act of love. Love certainly was the catalyst behind the incarnation according to John…. John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Mary is the one through whom God chose to give this extraordinary gift of love to the world that He notonly created but also that He so loved. She would be able to love Him not only because she would be His mom, but also because He first loved her before she even realized what love could be towards her. Again, John talks of the richness of God’s love for all people, that certainly would include Mary.
1 John 4:7-11, 19
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiationfor our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…We love because he first loved us.”
The ability Mary had to love Jesus as His mom was created in her by Jesus before she ever knew what her heavenly sent assignment was going to be as the one who eventually would carry Him in her womb. After Gabriel the “good news,” Mary had been anticipating the moment she would meet her firstborn son conceived not by her husband, but rather by the Holy Spirit. She likely experienced the whole gambit of emotions from the time of her angelic encounter announcing her highly favored status with God and onthrough the surprise of the shepherds. But love won the day of all the emotions, thoughts, and gifts that arrived that first Christmas
It is impossible to measure the love Mary must have had once Jesus made His arrival. However, we do know that the shepherds did come to worship or as the song goes, “adore” Him. And it seems reasonable that Mary’s love continued to grow as she and Joseph allowed the shepherds to draw near and gaze uponthe newborn King. Luke tells us what Mary was doing in these moments near the manger after theshepherds arrived unannounced once Jesus’ arrival had been announced in detail to them by the angels.
“And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when theysaw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
Mary was listening, lingering, and loving everything she was hearing from these shepherds who had come to adore the One she already was in love with deeper than she ever thought possible.
Mary was a new mom. And if she was like so many other mothers who have described the elation of meeting her firstborn after the difficult journey through pregnancy and the painful finish line of pushing and straining of labor: love indeed wins the day. Love overflows onto the little one now out of the womb andinto the arms of a new mother. All the pain and struggle to get to this moment was real, yet now fades into overwhelming love that washes those moments out of the picture.
Love had arrived and was wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Mary was in love with hernew love and likely had counted all His fingers and toes more than a time or two. Now she’s taking it all in as new stories from the shepherds sound like something she experienced nine months earlier. These stories would have sounded unbelievable, had it not happened to her as well…. Luke 2:19
“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
This is a detail described of a mother experiencing nothing but love in her heart in the present and for Hisfuture. While Mary recovered, she welcomed the faithful ones who came bearing stories, gifts, and praise for living love of the God who came in the flesh.
Considering all this from twenty-one centuries later, it is as if Mary could have been nodding in agreement with the lyrics that would be written over a thousand years in the future from those first-century moments:
“O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant. O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem. Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels!”
Can you imagine the love it took to believe, the love it took to be willing to travel. The love it took to be willing to give up every dream of a normal life. Mary quite literally laid down her all, for Jesus.
When God calls us to something we assume it will always be victorious and always be good. My experience is that is true but not always in the way we see good or we see victory.
The king of kings was born not in a palace but in a stable, they were not given the comforts of home and family around them for this first birth but instead were alone in a barn among strangers. It may have not seemed good to you and I. Think about sleeping in such conditions, living in such conditions let alone, giving birth to your child in such conditions. But it was a great place for shepherds and regular town folks!
How often do things happen in our lives that we just don’t understand….someone will quote to us in our pain, rejection, woundedness, in a well-meaning way…..Isaiah 55:8,9
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
It is the truth, this is the way God works but we can’t see it sometimes, because it is a learning process. I hate to say it but sometimes our lack of understanding, our pain brings us to a place where we discovery what it is to really love.
Yes, love is a feeling but more than a feeling it is a choice to choose to believe and in Mary’s case, as with many of us it was in some of the most impossible situations.
The birth of a baby, alone in a barn then all the shepherds burst in to the quiet night then remember the shepherds went out and told others. How many others came that night and throughout the next days
Let’s skip forward 12 years….Luke 2:43-46
When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
Can you imagine how Mary must have felt? She didn’t just lose her son, a boy, but she misplaced God
Did she feel like she let God down, feel as if she were a failure, after all God had entrusted her with His own son and she lost Him! But instead of self-loathing wallowing in feeling as if a failure she did what love draws us to do in the midst of our failures, hurts, wounds, rejections and pain….seek Him.
Love always draws us to Him….lies draw us away…..God sustained Mary with His love and Mary’s love for the Lord kept her trusting Him despite how she felt but the real test would be 21 years later.
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
Can you imagine the pain, this child you loved, cleaned the skinned knee, wiped the tears when he fell, watched grow through every struggle we face (After all Jesus faced every temptation we faced) She saw the miracles first-hand, she the dead raised, thousands fed, proclaiming him as King….here he is on the cross
Her love drew her there, she knew she could have been beaten, abused, chased away but her love caused her to stand when she could not stand, caused her to believe when she could not believe, caused her to stand for her son, her Lord and savior when everything inside of her said to run away…her love said believe anyway
Once again this is where love proves itself over and over again when you can believe even when there is nothing left inside of you to believe…. And Jesus great love for her brought Him in His pain and spiritual and physical anguish to say
26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
Her faithful love for him, from saying yes to the Lord 34 years earlier sustained her through all of the joys , fears, and heart ache. But where did that love come from….
1 John 4:18,19
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.
Whether we are in a place of great joy and blessing or a place of great battle and loss, we all have access to the same love. The love that sustained Mary at the cross, caused her to ponder all that happened that Holy night in Bethlehem, that told her it would be ok when her son was lost and caused her to rejoice at all the miracles.
That same love is How He loves you and loved you before you loved Him! It is that same love that He wants to fill you to overflowing whether you are celebrating or grieving….This Christmas…come to Him, love Him choose to be faithful to Him and allow Him to pour more love into you than you could ever imagine…let this Christmas be the best one ever regardless of what you are walking through but just because He loves you….
Come all you faithful….come and choose to just adore Him because He already adores you!