A MOTHER'S ❤️ IN FOUR PIECES
Last week was Mother’s Day here in the USA. So, I took the week off from blogging to have fun with family. That, as I was slammed at my day job.
Mary, mother of Christ, is an incredible example of motherhood – maybe the best one in the Bible. No, we should not worship her or pray to her – worship is reserved for God alone and we should pray only to Him. However, when my morning study sent me to John 2, I began thinking about this extraordinary woman, who many theologians say was a teenager when called upon to give birth to the Messiah.
Mary’s example as a Christian woman and as a loving mother can be summed up in the four short episodes of her life revealed in the Gospels that show her interacting with her first born Son.
Mary had already been visited by an angel, who announced that she had been selected to give birth to and raise the Son of God. Later she graciously received shepherds and then wise men bearing gifts and seeking to worship her child. Motherhood really got crazy in a way that we just might be able to relate to. Her journey was at once both extraordinary and surprisingly normal.
EPISODE 1: I THOUGHT YOU HAD HIM
If you have never accidentally, momentarily left a kid behind – in the house, at your parents’ house, in a store, at school, or (like I did) at church, give yourself a gold star. I was five minutes away from church when I realized neither my husband nor I had gotten my youngest to either of our cars before leaving the church parking lot. I mean, he was at church with friends, but, still, I spent five minutes of sheer terror and panic before being reunited with him. My son did not seem to be the least bit worried.
Epic motherhood fail. Mary can relate.
In Luke 2: 41-50 we read about Mary and Joseph going a day’s journey away from Jerusalem before realizing Jesus was not in the car – I mean caravan. After a panicked three-day search, (THREE DAYS!!!) they found Him in the synagogue -- having a meaningful conversation with the established religious leaders. I cannot imagine the fear and pain Mary felt. Verse 48 puts it like this: When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you."
Jesus was not at all worried, because He, as a pre-teen, (He was thought to be about 12), already understood His purpose – to “be about His Father’s business.”
When Mary calmed down, realizing He had been safe all along, she must have had a moment of intense pride at the fact that he was “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” And “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Verse 51 tells us “But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”
EPISODE 2: NUDGE TOWARD DESTINY
If you are a Mom, you have probably been your child’s biggest cheerleader and encouraged them along, with your belief that they can be more, do more, reach further than they think they can. You probably said things like “you can do this” and “I believe in you!”
In John 2:1-11 we find Jesus’ first public miracle – changing water into wine – really good quality wine. And it was Mary who encouraged Him to do it. At this point, she seemed very secure in His destiny.
John 2:3-5, 7 [NIV] 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." 4 "Woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My hour has not yet come." 5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." ... 7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.
The phrase, “My hour has not yet come” indicates to me that Jesus did not plan to publically reveal His ability to perform miracles just yet. Nevertheless, for some reason Mary thought He should. Clearly, she knew He could. And so, He did.
We don’t know why this played out as it did. Perhaps, His hour had come and God used Mary to nudge Him towards the beginning of His public ministry.
EPISODE 3: LETTING THEM GO
Your children eventually outgrow you. You and even your child may disagree with me, but I believe they do stop needing you. They may never stop appreciating you or asking your advice, but there definitely comes a time when they not only survive, but thrive on the strength of their own resources and education. They become successful, respected and maybe even powerful without your financial support, advice, or home cooked meals. We parents look forward to this day, and maybe secretly dread it on some level. At least us Moms.
We read about Mary’s experience with this happy and sad time in a mother’s life in Matthew 12:46-50 [NKJV] While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You." But He answered and said to the one who told Him, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! "For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother."
Jesus had moved fully into His place as Teacher and Messiah. Perhaps Mary was already aware of how His teachings were infuriating the religious establishment and was feeling some sense of panic. I believe she knew who He was and understood His fate. But, perhaps everything felt more like theory up until this point and now reality was settling in.
Also, it seems as though Joseph had passed away by this point (since he is not mentioned). Therefore, her firstborn son would have typically taken on responsibility for her and the other siblings. We know that Jesus was 30 when He started His ministry. We do not know the age gap between Him and his siblings. They are not mentioned in the incident where they left Jesus behind It doesn’t mean they weren’t born, just that we don’t know.
Perhaps Mary was feeling a bit like an outsider in Jesus’ life, though He had told her about 18 years previous to this that He would be about His Father’ business. Sometimes, it is hard for a mom to let go. We still worry, no matter how old our children get.
EPISODE 4: YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MY CHILD
A mother is there through thick and thin, better or worse. Your child is always your child Mary at the stake, looking on as He died. At the end of His human ministry, and the painful end of His human life, Jesus looked down and saw Mom. The woman who accepted the role of carrying Him in her womb and who was, therefore with Him at the moment of conception, was there as He was about to take His last breath as mortal.
John 19:25-27 [NIV] Near the [stake] of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, "Woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Jesus was a good son – respectful and supportive, looking out for Mary even while in agony. He never did anything to shame her, though the Pharisees and Sadducees accused Him of much. But, He was a son who lived a life that would break a mother’s heart, as well as one to fill it with joy and wonder. Mary saw miracles and heard the ridicule. She heard the powerful words of His teachings and also His struggles to breathe at the end. She knew He raised the dead and witnessed as He accepted death for us all.
Mary is not mentioned after Jesus’ resurrection. We are not told whether or not He visited her in His glorified state. I imagine He did though. Because your Mom is always your Mom. Wish I could have looked in on that. I picture Jesus doing what my own father used to do with his mother once he was a grown man. My dad would wrap his arms around Nana’s waist and spin around with her. She would shriek with joy. That is how I imagine it.
Your child is always your child. Belated Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there.
I welcome your thoughts, questions and comments. Write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.