The expectation, and then the arrival of Jesus, each in their turn, caused both Joseph and Mary to become intensely thoughtful. The parents of the Saviour set the pattern for appropriate Christmas observance. The Nativity is matter for deep meditation. From their personal reflections, and through the memories they related to trusted friends, Joseph and Mary reveal their inmost reactions to the fact of
the Incarnation and tell us how it initially affected them.
Such a stupendous event must have been profoundly thought provoking to the young couple intimately involved in God's coming to earth as man. When it was impending, and Joseph's suspicions were aroused at the discovery of Mary's pregnancy, the just man's world must have crashed, and yet his first concern was to preserve his fiance's reputation. Unmindful of the miracle that had taken place within his bride to be he turned the sad prospect of divorce over and over in his mind as the only possible solution to his disappointment until the Lord settled his concern by making things plain to him in a dream: "What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20). Joseph must have been relieved by the angelic message but his thoughts must have continued racing.
When Jesus was born, announced by angels, and visited by shepherds, Mary’s mind was set to wondering. She carefully preserved the memories of the occurrences that attended the birth of her exceptional son and turned things over and over in her mind in an attempt to understand the meaning of her babe's arrival. From the outset of God's great work in sending his Son human minds were perturbed and baffled. Those closest to Jesus in his early earthly life found their brains spinning. Joseph was sick with worry until he learned the truth of God's surprising visitation. Mary was filled with wonder as she cradled in her arms the Truth made manifest in human form. The minds of Jesus' parents were exercised at all that was taking place. It was a magnificent work of God and at each step of its fulfillment thoughts revolved ceaselessly in human heads. The dimensions were too great to comprehend. Angels had to interpret it. Humans had to slowly contemplate the clues. The hugeness and humility of the happening seemed to clash. A heaven-sent Saviour in swaddling cloths (throwaway
rags), lying in a manger (animal fodder trough)! The circumstances didn't match. The birth scene wasn't grand enough and the chosen parents were not important enough. Yet the appearance and singing of angels sealed the truth. The glory of God had been revealed from heaven and his favour rested on men in the person of the infant found
in a feeding box. It was a sign of the bread of life – the gracious gift from above that would save men from death, the starvation of the soul through sin that deprived mankind of the nourishing communion with God they were meant to enjoy.
The birth of Jesus was the turning point in history. We are meant to turn it over in our minds, emulating Mary who treasured the facts
and sought to understand them. It was not the only time she wrestled to understand the words and ways of the Son she bore. He puzzled her on his visit to the temple (Luke 2:41-52) , and seemed to contradict her at the wedding in Cana (John 2:3-4). Her grasp of the mission of
her off-spring was not perfect but she was willing to learn and took things to heart.
Someone (either Luke or another informant) was entrusted with the secrets of Mary's musings, and Joseph, too, must have confided his original misgivings to a reliable friend. Such disclosures are proof that as we read the New Testament record we are very close to all that it describes. Real people over and over again turn over to us their heart's response to the happenings they relate. We are the heirs of trustworthy testimony. The gospel is true. Mary, Joseph, and a crowd of witnesses say so. They tell us things to Jesus' credit that are not necessarily to theirs, but they make the story of Jesus credible and convincing. It is all "inside information" that we are to take inside and turn over in our minds and treasure in our hearts.
Jesus' parents, disciples, followers, and those blessed by him in various ways, tell of their knowledge of him and how he affected them in his life and ministry. Christmas, like all the seasons of the Christian year, challenges us to think upon him and consider how he affects us.
We are to read the memoirs preserved in the Gospels and let the facts revolve in our minds until we come to a settled conclusion about
Jesus and acknowledge him as God's Son and our Saviour. Our faith, strong and mature, is to emerge from honest meditation and a candid interrogation of the divine text. In the Book of God our meeting with Jesus is as vivid and real as that experienced by those who knew him
in the flesh. "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you may also have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ" (1 John 1: 3).
We may encounter him, now risen, just as truly as did the shepherds at his birth (Johann Bengel calls these humble men the first evangelists), as did Anna and Simeon in the temple, as did the disciples throughout his ministry. Luther has summed it up perfectly in saying that the Bible is the crib in which we find Jesus. He comes to us in the Word. There we find him in the thoughts, words, and descriptions of those who knew him intimately. We feel him through the racing pulses of those that knew his company whenever he appeared, spoke, or acted before them. The spirits of human witnesses still speak to us through the carefully preserved text. The Spirit of God addresses us as we revolve their memories in our minds, and the act of shared remembrance becomes real knowledge of Jesus that is sweet and saving.
Enduring faith and understanding come through pondering "these things" as did Mary. We cannot skim-read our way to Christ, give him half an ear, or glance at him quickly with the inner eye. The Bible affords perception and comprehension to those who study the Word and
ruminate upon its wonders. Its tidings become treasures. Treasures are enjoyed when they are turned over and over, fondly felt, and closely examined with the eye. When priceless diamonds are put on public display they are placed on a revolving pedestal beneath a brilliant light so that they may be viewed from every angle in their full splendour. The things of Christ are to be considered from every aspect. Every beam of spiritual illumination is to be trained upon them as they turn before us in our daily reading and ensuing contemplation. Slowly we realize the wealth of the word as we become its students like Mary, wondering at the ways of God. She hid things in her heart only to open them to us through storytellers such as Luke. Surely there is great validity in the remark of Alexander Whyte when he opines: "If we are to apply this sure principle to Mary's case 'According to your faith so be it unto you,' then Mary must surely wear the crown as the mother of all them who believe on her Son. If Abraham's faith has made him the father of all them who believe, surely Mary's faith entitles her to be called mother".