What Does it Mean that Jesus’ Mother ‘Treasured up All These Things in Her Heart?’

  • Candice Lucey Contributing Writer
  • 2020 27 Apr
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But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. – Luke 2:19

Mary must have stored up many memories of her remarkable son Jesus. He lived and played and learned like other boys; yet Mary’s son was also the Savior. Later in life, when asked about Him, certain memories emerged as particular treasures for Mary.

These words are found in the New Testament book of Luke 2:19: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” This is the New International Version of Luke’s Gospel, the third book of the New Testament, and one of three times this variation of “treasured” is used in the bible. 

Who Wrote ‘Mary Treasured up All These Things and Pondered Them in Her Heart’

Luke was a physician, intent on gathering evidence about Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. After he “carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus.” (Luke 1:3)

Theophilus was “a person of rank, perhaps a Roman officer.” We know this because Luke addresses him as “most excellent,” but we are also certain that he was a Christian.

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What Is the Context of ‘Mary Treasured up All These Things in Her Heart?’

The shepherds had just been visited by a host of angels declaring “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12)

The shepherds decided “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15) They “hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:16) The shepherds could not wait to share what they had heard from the angels: “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Luke 2:17-18)

These were the words Mary “treasured up [...] in her heart.” 

Other Biblical Translations of Luke 2:19

“But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart.” (American Standard Version)

“But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.” (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

“Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them.” (Good News Translation)

“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (King James Version)

“Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself.” (The Message)

“Mary was preserving all these things, pondering in her heart.” (Young’s Literal Translation)

The Greek word for “treasured,” synetērei, also means “kept safe.” The word synetērei is used once more in the Gospels, in Mark 6:20. Herod protected John the Baptist (kept him safe) for a time before saying to his wife Herodias “ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” (Mark 6:22)

She asked for John to be beheaded, and Herod had to fulfill his promise. Elsewhere, “treasured” is translated as dietērei meaning “to keep carefully.” There is a slight difference here between keeping carefully and keeping safe. Dietēreidia is derived “from dia and tereo; to watch thoroughly, to observe strictly, or to avoid wholly—keep.”

With synetērei, we see Mary protecting Immanuel; she realizes He is in danger which is confirmed in Joseph’s dream (Luke 2:13) after the Magi leave.

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Scripture Related to Luke 2:19

“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51)

This comes from another memory of Mary’s when she and her family were traveling home after a trip to Jerusalem. They could not find Jesus and lost three days looking for him. Eventually, Jesus was located in the synagogue—His Father’s House as Jesus called it—learning and discussing with the teachers.

“Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:47) Mary “treasured” this memory even though she had been distraught at the time. 

“Dietērei” is used here; the memory was one Mary kept to herself. There is a “tension” in the text: “at this moment in time, Mary may have almost entirely forgotten that Jesus was any different from any other child. All of the strange and wonderful things she was told [...] were probably momentarily overshadowed by her frustration.”

The commentator reminds us that Jesus was growing in wisdom, yet he was also a boy with human parents who had lost three days of travel and possibly three years of their lives owing to their fear for Jesus...had they left their eldest son to be swallowed up by the city?

Mary kept this memory close, valued it. She had a lot to ponder: confusion between her perception at the time (Jesus was inconsiderate) versus reality (Jesus was perfect) and hindsight (Jesus had risen, but His Spirit was with her).

No wonder this was an event she chose to share and which Luke decided to record. Mothers often look back and see that a child’s supposed misbehavior belied reality.

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Luke 2:19 for Today: What We Treasure in Our Hearts

“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Our treasure is the Holy Spirit. Our bodies and our hearts will break, but God has given us this treasure so that we might have hope. Mary kept these memories safe, but we have more than memory. We have the Living Water of Jesus that continues to fill us with His power and love.

Every day we have a new opportunity as mothers to display that love to our children by the power of His Spirit. It’s not by our will or ability that we love our kids when they challenge our patience, but by the Father’s power. 

What Moms Can Learn from How Mary ‘Treasured Up in Her Heart’

Mothers fear for and pray for their children. Parents are often treated inconsiderately, even by well-raised kids. While these generally “good” children are forgetful and make mistakes, God never does.

Children’s negligence and our parenting flubs are not evidence that He is unkind or fickle. Even if sons and daughters commit crimes, walk away from God, become teen parents, or fall into any manner of danger or sin, God has a plan for their lives. God also has plans for their mothers and fathers. It’s a good plan.

While we might want to forget about the terrors of temporarily losing Jane at the mall or the embarrassment of having to explain that Johnny is in rehab, we will one day look back at disappointment and fear from a clearer vantage point.

Mary saw her son raised from the dead and glorified. We will one day see that life’s trials meant something. If our kids believe in Christ for salvation, even jail time won’t keep them from God in the long run.

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Prayer for Mothers to Treasure their Memories

Father, thank you for mothers, caretakers of your precious children. We mothers are going to mess up. We will leave our children at a grocery store, discipline them unfairly, and lose our tempers with them. Mothering is difficult, complex work; the sort that constantly changes as our children grow up and face assorted challenges and temptations.

Parenting the Son of God must have caused untold stress and confusion, such as when He appeared insane to His family. Mary suffered anguish at the foot of the cross.

Father, help mothers suffering from deep anguish to sift the rubble for memories, refined by fire, transformed into glistening gems. Reveal Your refining purpose in our lives and those of our kids. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Whether you are celebrating or lamenting Mother’s Day, Jesus is alive. We cannot leave Him behind in Jerusalem or at the mall for He is in us by His Spirit. This is cause to celebrate.

God gave mothers a particular gift; a special responsibility. No one will ever again have to endure the responsibility of raising the Son of God like an ordinary child and struggling to understand what that means for ordinary life.

Aren’t you glad your kids are only human, like you?

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Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.



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