In a previous post we used the words PONDER and PONDERING, in trying to emphasize the need to slow down and think about Proverbs 11.30. As we read Luke 2.19, we find a form of that same word—But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Let’s think about the context of this verse and discover what the use of this word might reveal to us about the character of Mary and see how we might benefit from knowing this word.
In the context of Luke 2, some shepherds, out in the fields, have just received good tidings of great joy (2.10), that a Savior had been born: CHRIST THE LORD. The heavenly host of angels had begun praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (Luke 2.14). The shepherds made a visit to see the child, using the description given by the angel to find Him. Having done this, they began to tell about these wondrous signs that they had seen with their own eyes (Luke 2.17). Mary was very attentive to hear what these shepherds had to say (Luke 2.19).
One of the words used by Luke to describe Mary’s reaction to the testimony of the shepherds is found only here in the New Testament. That word is a form of the Greek word: SUMBALLO, in the KJV translated: pondered. Likely you are familiar with PARABALLO, “I throw beside,” from which we get our English word parable. A good definition of this word, SUMBALLO, as used here, would be: to give careful consideration to various implications of an issue—to reflect on, to think about seriously, to think deeply about [Louw-Nida].
We are not authorized to worship Mary or to think of her as a mediatrix, though some people do that. However, with her being the only one about whom it is said in the entire New Testament that she pondered, we might benefit from taking note of that which she did.
Think about Mary pondering the recent events in her life. In addition, consider the other word that is used in Luke 2.19—KEPT. This word has been defined as: to exert mental effort in storing information so as to have continual access and use of it—to cause oneself to be fully aware of, to keep in mind, to remember [Louw-Nida].
Certainly the mother instinct of Mary would be a part of the reason these two powerful words would be chosen by the Holy Spirit to describe her thought processes. Angelic messages to Zacharias, to herself, and to the shepherds were about the child she had borne. Obviously she would think a lot about these matters and treasure up the information about the unique circumstances of His birth and consider what the future might hold in store for Him. Any mother would!
I am convinced, as well, that Mary was pondering and treasuring the relationship that this very special birth would have in the development of God’s plan for saving man. After all, Joseph had been instructed to give the name JESUS (GOD SAVES), to the child (Matthew 1.21). Mary is unsure at this time about future developments. She is well aware that this is to be an experience unlike any other mother has had or would experience. She is taking seriously her role in the Divine plan. She takes time to think and give careful consideration to and to reflect upon all of these developments as they pass before her.
As I think about the two words describing Mary’s thought processes in Luke 2.19 and the definitions of these two terms, the word SOBER seems to me an appropriate adjective for describing Mary. She understood the seriousness of the birth of this child. She knew she needed to be thinking about this very special situation she had been selected to occupy. She is to be respected and appreciated for her quality of soberness.
The word SOBER is recommended to you and me often in the New Testament. There are a dozen references to it (2 Cor 5.13; 1 Th 5.6, 8; 1 Tim 3.2, 11; Titus 1.8; 2.2, 4, 6; 1 Peter 1.13; 4.7; 5.8). Paul and Peter are telling us in these passages that SOBER is something that we need to be. We need to be serious-minded. Especially is that the case with regard to God’s plan for saving man.
Let’s let Mary teach us that Jesus Christ and the things the New Testament reveals to us about Him are matters of utmost importance to treasure in the heart!