Thoughts on the Visit of the Shepherds

In Luke’s Gospel, after the shepherds come to see the baby Jesus and tell everyone what they had been told by the angels, Luke says that “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (KJV: Luke 2: 19).

I was thinking about the birth of my own children.  Seeing the birth of a baby, especially your own, instills a huge sense of wonder.

Mary had even more reasons for wonder than most, though.  The angel Gabriel had previously told her that she would conceive through the Holy Spirit and bear the Son of God (Luke 1:26ff).  Now, shepherds have come in from the fields reporting that this baby’s birth had also been announced to them as Christ the Lord (see Luke 2:8ff).  Then, when Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple to present him to the Lord as their firstborn, the old man Simeon declares that in this baby he sees the Lord’s Christ; the prophetess Anna also declares that God has fulfilled his promises in this baby (Luke 2:25ff).  Later, strange men from the East, gentiles from Media, come to worship Jesus as Lord (Matthew 2).

Mary certainly had cause to wonder at this little baby which was born to her.  On top of the normal wonder at seeing the birth of your child, she had all these other things added on top as people rejoiced that her child was the Savior of all humanity.  I don’t know if she knew what this would ultimately entail: that the joyful birth would give way to the sorrow at the cross as she wept before the body of her son, before ultimately receiving the joy of his resurrection victory over death.  After his resurrection, though, he would soon ascend back into heaven, leaving her in the care of his faithful apostle John.

I imagine, though, that on this day she simply pondered these things in her heart.


(Image by By Albert Edelfelt – Herdarnas tillbedjan, målad av Albert Edelfelt 1892-94, finns i Trefaldighetskyrkan i Vasa. – Public Domain,