And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.
In the second chapter of Luke, we see Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord and offer sacrifices for purification, according to the Law of Moses. Jesus would have been almost 6 weeks old.
Simeon and Anna, two devout followers of God, recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Simeon takes Jesus into his arms and says:
Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.
Mary and Joseph marvel.
Marvel: to be filled with wonder or astonishment.
Still, even after all they have heard and seen and been through, they marvel.
Even though Mary had been visited by the angel Gabriel to announce His conception. Even though an angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream to confirm Mary’s story. Even though Elizabeth, Mary’s older, barren relative, was also pregnant, miraculously, and she, too, had prophesied and praised God for Jesus before He was born. Even though Mary herself had been filled with the Holy Spirit and sang a song of praise in response to Elizabeth’s prophecy. Even though on the night Jesus was born, shepherds showed up at the door talking about a multitude of angels announcing His entrance into the world.
Even though Mary and Joseph had heard the words
- Son of the Most High
- Throne of David
- Conceived by the Holy Spirit
- No end to His Kingdom
- Mother of my Lord
- All generations will call me blessed
- The Lord
- Save His people from their sins
in connection with Jesus, they were still not prepared to hear Simeon’s declaration.
Over and over God tells Mary and Joseph who Jesus is, what Jesus will do. He is holy, He is Messiah, He is King. He will save, He will rule, He will reign.
How strange and impossible it must have sounded to this ordinary couple who lived under the rule and power of Rome and whose family shunned them and refused to help when the time came for the baby to be born. Elizabeth and Zacharias knew and believed, but we don’t hear of anyone else in Mary’s family who supported her. Clearly, no one in Joseph’s family was buying the line that this child was anyone special. They were alone in Bethlehem, barely able to find shelter.
So despite all the promises and prophesies, the circumstances of Jesus’ birth did not seem to point to greatness or royalty, only shame, disbelief and rejection. But in the midst of it all, God continued speaking, sending shepherds to remind Mary and Joseph of His promises.
And still, they marveled at Simeon’s speech!
How many times, in how many miraculous ways does God have to speak and repeat Himself before they truly understand and believe? At least as many times as it takes for me.
Sometimes we think, “If an angel visited me and announced God’s plan for my life, for my child’s life, it would be so much easier to live in faith and to understand God’s will!” But the truth is, such an experience wouldn’t make the difference we expect.
Looking at my own journey and the Words God has spoken to me—through scriptures, through His still, small voice, through others’ words and prayers—I, too, need repetition and reminders. Just like Joseph and Mary, I am uncertain of what the path ahead will actually look like, though I’m pretty certain it will not be as I first imagined it.
I am encouraged to know that Mary and Joseph needed reminders, despite all the angelic visits, prophecies and miracles. I am so glad God gave them so many signs, and spoke in so many ways. Maybe that’s part of why they marveled. Maybe, like me, they were simply astonished at how God continued to give and give and give.
How does He marvel you?