But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart….And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb….And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord….And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him….Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them….And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
Luke 2:19, 21-22, 33, 39-41, 51 ESV
It’s December 27th, two days after Christmas. All the presents have been unwrapped. The feasts have been eaten (and the weight has been gained). The family has come and in many cases has already gone. It’s pretty much back to normal. Some people have gone back to work; some people are still off work, but normalcy in general has begun to return. This year’s Christmas Day is already a memory.
Yet as we continue moving forward, I encourage you to follow the example of Mary and Joseph in the days following Jesus’ birth. Their son, the one God had promised would save the world, had been born in a manger behind an inn in a city that was not their home. Not exactly the birth of Mary’s dreams, I’m sure. Shortly after the birth, they had been visited by shepherds declaring angels had visited them to announce the birth of their precious son. But then the shepherds left, and Mary and Joseph were left to care for a newborn baby–and not just any baby–but the Son of God.
I know we tend to spiritualize the baby Jesus, but the baby Jesus was just like any other human baby. As an infant He required the same care an infant today would need–the diaper changes, the feedings, the nurturing. I’m sure he looked similar to all infants as well. Sure, He was fully God and the promised Messiah, yet in the days following his birth, Jesus was just a boy. The angels didn’t continue to come, and the Magi had not yet come as we often depict. They would not come until weeks later, maybe even months or years seeing that the king put to death all those children who were under the age of 2. This means between the birth and the next “event” recorded spanned a decent length of time. In those days following the birth of our Savior, all Mary and Joseph had to go on for direction was a promise in their heart and the memories of the birth.
What was next, though? What were Mary and Joseph supposed to do with Jesus now that He was in the flesh as a precious newborn? What would they do each and every day?
Raise Him in the admonition of the Lord.
Yes, that’s it. But yet that’s everything. God chose Mary and Joseph to raise His son because He knew they’d raise Him according to the law. Sure, they did nothing spectacular according to the world’s standard, for they went on with daily life. They raised him as they felt God had led them to raise him in the same way we raise our own children. They did what the Lord required by circumcising him, dedicating him, and going to the temple as required. They fed him, clothed him, taught him a trade. Yes, every once in awhile something miraculous would occur to remind them who Jesus was: they met Simeon at the dedication, they met Anna the prophetess at the dedication, and the Magi came.
But those were events, not everyday occurrences. Mary and Joseph had to live day by day in faith that what God had promised, He was doing, even when things were “just normal.” They had to live in faith that God was in the diaper changes, the daily feedings, the laundry, the training, and every other mundane task that accompanied raising a little boy–even a little boy destined to save the world.
With this in mind, I want to encourage you today. Continue to believe and to serve, even in the everyday moments of life. Christmas is over. Some gifts have already broken, some gifts have already been returned, the leftover Christmas decorations are on sale, and the reality of how much money we spent and food we ate is sinking in. Yet as you face the realities of everyday life again, do not face it with the same attitude. Mary and Joseph were never the same after Jesus. Sure, they went along with life. I’m sure those first few days and weeks of Jesus’ life, Mary was lost in the sleep deprived days of new motherhood. But in those days and weeks and years following the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary lived the everyday events pondering the promises of God.
I’m not sure what God has promised you. I’m not sure the last time God brought someone or something into your life to give you that physical reminder of His promise. But whether it’s been awhile or just recently, I encourage you to keep living in faith what you know in your heart. Ponder what God has promised you while continuing to do what is before you. Serve God in the little things; serve God in the big. Serve God as you know how, remembering God will certainly perform His will in your life in His time, and for His good pleasure. God has not forgotten His promise, God has not forgotten you, and God will never let you go. Therefore, “…hold fast the confession of [your] hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23 ESV).