It seems that Jesus did not do much on that first Christmas, but in reality He did everything! Still, as He was just a baby, we commonly turn our attention to the more active characters of the Christmas story. I invite you to think about Mary for a few moments. We know better than to worship her, but we can certainly worship with her. We do not follow Mary, but we ought to follow her example. Let’s “Bow With Mary” today, beginning with Luke 2:19, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”
AT CHRIST’S MANGER
Unless we are totally overcome with pride, when we see a great work of God we are moved to worship. If it is one of the wonders of nature, or a tremendous working of God within the people around us, we think of how awesome our Lord is. That certainly must have been the mood as Joseph and Mary looked into the manger. After they bid the Shepherds “goodnight,” and eventually got some sleep, perhaps she faded off with the prophecy of Isaiah in mind, “His name shall be called Wonderful…”
We are only told that she “pondered” the workings of God in her heart. As she thought about what God had done, she could not help but worship Him! You see, I am getting to our problem, which is a total lack of pondering! With all of the distractions of this season it is hard to focus on what is most important. With all of our efforts to be thoughtful of our loved ones it is far too easy to be thoughtless toward the Christ of Christmas. Let me encourage you to give to the Lord over the next few days, make a gift of your time. Give Him some significant time in concentrated reflection and gratitude.
AT CHRIST’S FEET
Mary, as a mother, gave Jesus true, humble acts of service. She was a sinner, but she was a faithful young woman and a busy mother, and she must have had her own set of temptations. Mary also had the convicting influence of having a sinless Son grow up in her house, something my mother never had!
There seems to have been some hesitance in Mary’s receiving her Son as her Savior, and I do not blame her for that. When we truly see her bowing at the Lord’s feet, though, that may be the time when she personally accepted her gift of salvation. Do you recall? It was in the garden after His resurrection.
Matthew 28:5-9 “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.”
As we ponder the Christ of the manger, do not for a moment forget that He came out of another cave victorious over sin and death and hell! Your first reminder is the swaddling clothes in which the baby Jesus was wrapped. They were much like the ones He left behind, folded on the stone bed of His sepulcher. With Mary, let us bow in humble service to our Lord and in faithful worship at His feet.
AT CHRIST’S CROSS
Just as Mary has been abused and made an object of worship by some misguided people, the cross can also become an icon. It can take the focus away from the Savior Who made an ugly, rugged cross the scene of our salvation. We will be sure to bow to Him and no thing, symbol, or other person.
Mary was distraught when her Firstborn was hung on a cross. She must also have been confused and perhaps bitter because she knew, better than anyone else, that He was totally innocent. In spite of her overwrought emotions and real concern for her own safety, she was there. We might not imagine that a mother would attend a crucifixion, watching for hours as her child died so painfully, but she was there. Conflicted but faithful to the end, she was there. The one disciple who stayed with Jesus tells us in John 19:25, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” She was there.
If you know Jesus as your Savior, you might be able to envision what thoughts ran through Mary’s mind as she bowed at the foot of the cross. The very idea of seeing the price of our sin at such close range makes us shudder. One thing that we are not left to wonder about, though, is what was going through Jesus’ mind as He hung and suffered with His mother bowed below Him. He thought of Her!
John again tells us, (26,27) “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” If ever the Lord was in need, it was there on the cross, but He thought of others, His mother, the thief next to Him, and even the soldiers who were killing Him!
When we bow and worship our Savior, by His manger, His cross, or His empty tomb, we too are assured that He is thinking of us! Of course He is thinking of us, He did it all for us! He “commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” Romans 5:8.
What a blessed communion, what a holy connection, for you and I to bow to our Lord and pour out our hearts and know that He hears! Why would we miss out on that? What could possibly keep us out of our prayer closets and away from His throne? Do not bow to Mary or Santa Clause, or any other tradition this year, but by all means, take the time to bow with Mary, before Christ!
Submitted by Dr. Scott Jones
State Missions Director