Image by Ira Thomas
By Jaime Luce
What’s in a word? I know that normally we say what’s in a name but today I wanted to mull over what’s in a word. The word that seemed to keep jumping off the pages and onto my eyeballs was “Marvel”. We even have a comic strip of super hero’s called “Marvel comics”. Why do we put together the superpower or supernatural with Marvel? Is it a clue to the depths of our feelings and hopes, or maybe even our faith? I would venture to say it is. This should prove to be a thoughtful journey. We begin this journey in Luke chapter 2.
The scene begins with Mary and Joseph traveling for the census where Mary goes into labor and gives birth to Jesus in a stall full of animals. Just nine months earlier in Luke 1 we see that Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel to tell her she was highly favored and that she was chosen to carry the Son of God who would save His people from their sins. She showed great faith in declaring “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word”. And we know she really did believe by faith what the angel said because when Mary went to see her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist, Elizabeth exclaimed to Mary “Blessed is she who believed, for the fulfullment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” So we know Mary was full of faith and I think it would be safe to say that she was hanging on every word spoken to her by the angel. I know I would! I mean this could ruin her reputation. Her future will forever be altered and not because she chose it initially. She was chosen and had to face what she believed about God in her innermost being. We will see later how this was one of the purposes of Christs coming. But first let’s look at the Shepherds.
In v.8 the scene shifts from Mary, Joseph and Jesus to the Shepherds in the fields just doing their jobs. The verse says that the shepherds were living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an Angel appears standing before them glowing! They were terrified and the Angel tells them not to be afraid because he has good news that will bring great joy. He then tells them about Jesus’ birth and where to find them. The shepherds are so astonished they immediately set out to see for themselves. Then there in the manger they see Jesus just as the angel had said. So they did what anyone else would do. They began to tell everyone what had happened to them and what they saw. V. 18 tells us that all those who heard it “Marveled” at those things that were told to them. It is probably a good place to explain what to Marvel means. It’s very simple. It’s to wonder, to be amazed, to be astonished, to admire. The story of Jesus’ remarkeable birth and all it’s surrounding components should cause us to Marvel! To ponder and think about it and its implications for our lives. We should be amazed at His love for us that the “Darling of Heaven” would leave His kingdom and come die for us. And that’s just the beginning!
Fast forward to V. 25 to the day that Mary and Joseph go to the temple to present Jesus to the Lord, as was the custom according to the law of Moses. There at the temple was a man named Simeon whom the Bible says was a just and devout man and on whom was the Holy Spirit. So now we know he was quite a man! That day the Holy Spirit directed Simeon to go to the temple. When Simeon saw Jesus he said “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Then there it is again. V.33 And Joseph and His mother “marveled” at those things which were spoken of Him. I kind of struggled to understand that they marveled at this since they had first both been appeared to by Angels. Mary to her face and Joseph in a dream. Then the shepherds come and tell them that angels appeared to them to tell them about Jesus and what He would do. This is where I really began to think about this word Marvel. I mean doesn’t it seem like if you have a supernatural experience like that, that you would begin to let it sink in? It’s as if they were hearing it for the first time, both times. But wait, it gets better.
Simeon blesses them but then says this to Mary, “Behold this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against”(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Now we’re getting to it. That word thoughts means to reason, to question and consider. It’s deliberation of turning thoughts over in the mind; reckoning by mental questions, opinions, designs, and disputes. The “Word Wealth” in my bible says this: Deliberating with himself, settling accounts, and suspicious because of his state of indecision. Through one’s acceptance or rejection of Christ, the real thoughts of one’s heart toward himself and toward God become clear.
I hope you’re still tracking with me here. When we are confronted with Jesus and all His glory this will happen: We will begin deliberating in our minds, asking questions and having suspicions. This happens because we are faced with our true thoughts towards God and ourselves. Maybe Mary kept marveling because she somehow couldn’t believe that something so wonderful could come from her and it wasn’t necessarily her doubting in God but in herself and her calling, or the doubt that she really was highly favored. We are forced to see what we really believe about Him and Us! Simeon said this is one of the reasons for His coming; So that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. How can we believe what God has said to us or about us until we know what we even think about God. Throughout Jesus’ ministry we saw over and over how the Pharisees, Scribes and Saducees thoughts toward God were challenged by Jesus himself. He told them they didn’t even know Him, that they were of their father the devil! Whoa, that’s pretty strong stuff. Our thoughts should not be gained by other peoples opinions and beliefs or the traditions of men but from our own experience and study of His Word. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure even when you have heard from Him, and maybe even supernaturally, that word will be challenged. Think of Mary. She had no doubt that the angel Gabriel visited her and told her what and how this all would happen yet I’m sure she was thinking this can’t be right as she goes into labor and there is no place for her to give birth except in the barn with the animals. She was alone and had no other women there to help her. Or even years later as Jesus is hanging on a cross! What did she believe then? You must realize that if God says it, even when it’s challenged, it will surely come to pass as He said. So let’s go back to the text.
While they were at the temple a prophetess named Anna prophesied of His redemption. So in one day they receive two confirmations of who He is. Then the text jumps ahead to when Jesus is twelve years old. His family has traveled to Jeruselem for the feast per their custom. When the feast is ended and they have begun to journey home Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus isn’t with them. They travel back looking for Him and find Him in the temple where it says in V.46 “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed…”
Time has passed since their visitations with Angels and of prophecy’s about who He was and what He would do. Maybe is was time to encourage themselves in their faith about the promises of God. Maybe they got so used to just living life and raising children that they forgot what was promised about Jesus and His purpose. I’m not sure why it was so surprising and amazing that Jesus would be in the temple and discussing the things of God after what they were told about His life. But this I do know. When we see Jesus at work His nature causes us to question, as it should. When we see Him moving in us or in others we should Marvel and see if we still hold firm to His promises and plans for our lives.
What are our thoughts towards God and Ourselves? This leads me to one last gem here that struck me. Let’s not forget our Savior came as a baby. A baby! A baby that needs to be raised and trained. If Jesus needed prophecy’s and confirmations of who He was and what He would become then so do we and so do our children. As we raise our children we must ask the Lord His thoughts and plans for our lives and those of our children so that we can train them up in the way they should go. Jesus was in the temple and our children should be also. We should be taking them to the house of God to teach them and train them how to hear from the one who knows their purpose. A place where they can ask questions and listen and learn what thoughts to think towards God and toward themselves. The world will tell them they are someone else. They need, no, we all need to know what He says about us. You may be a Mary, called to be a mother or you may be a Simeon, full of the Holy Spirit and serving at the church. You may be an Anna, a prophetess to the people of God. Whatever He has called you to, I challenge you to Marvel. Marvel at His greatness and power. Marvel at His love for you no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve come from.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 says this “Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord.”
Don’t let the worlds feeble attempts of greatness cause you to marvel. Marvel at Him, at the one who created it all from nothing and let Him show off His superpowers on your behalf! Jesus is my Superhero and no one else compares!