I’ve thought a bit about motherhood lately and what it is supposed to look like, and that has led me to think about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Now there was a young woman called to be a mother in a big way. How often does God ask a person to be the mother of His only son?
Um, once. Just the one time.
God has a plan for each of us, and he had a monumental one for Mary. It would be both a blessing and a burden. God knew that if Jesus was to arrive here the conventional way, it would require a mother, and He “highly favored” Mary for that position.
I had a Catholic friend explain to me that the reason they petition Mary with their requests is that if they can get Mary to go to Jesus on their behalf, their prayers will surely be answered. Jesus does what Mary asks. Well, sometimes He did. Mary did ask Jesus to help at that wedding reception when they ran out of wine, and He did that. (John 2) But then there was that time when His brothers and mother asked to speak to Him and he absolutely would not go to them. (Matthew 12) And there was that time when Mary and Joseph actually lost Jesus. Imagine their conversation.
Mary: “I thought he was with you!”
Joseph: “You said you were getting him!”
I’ve been there… just not with the Savior of mankind.
When they did find Him, He was a day’s journey back in Jerusalem in the temple with the elders. Mary confronted Jesus over this perceived disobedience, and He told her He was being about His Father’s business (Not his mother’s). (Luke 2)
So in an attempt at not offending my Catholic friend, (I do love you, and healthy debate is good for both of us, right?) if Mary is actually sitting at Jesus’ feet in heaven and petitioning Him day and night for our requests, does that really sound like so much of a reward for being Jesus’ mother? The Bible does say that we have an advocate with the Father, but it says that it is Jesus. Not Mary (1 John 2:1). That would make her the advocate to the Advocate with the Father. Putting that burden on Mary turns her into sort of a lobbyist for our special interests. I’m not convinced.
So I was delighted when we took a look at Mary this last Sunday at church. Our pastor brought out the verse at the end of the crucifixion where Mary is present, surrounded by friends, in support of her son (John 19:25). Mary hung in there with Jesus when it would have been easy to turn away and be spared that pain. She was witness that day to something no mother should have to see, but there is an important pause that takes place in that moment. Jesus takes a minute and considers her there in his darkest time; He looks upon the woman who gave so much for Him.
In that moment, the part of Jesus who was fully man, was about to end. Yet He realized that while He would no longer need her in that role, she would still need attention. Jesus gave over Mary’s position in His life, to John, His close friend. The purpose to which Mary was called had been fulfilled.
As Jesus’ humanity left him and He became, once again, fully God, it was time to change Mary’s role. Mary would not be His mother, but His sister in the family of God. We might like to think that Mary has a super special place in heaven, she is certainly deserving, but there is no mention of that in the scriptures. (Some believe that the woman mentioned in Revelation 12 is Mary, but most Bible commentators believe it is, in fact, the Church.) I am sure her reward is great, however, and I definitely look forward to meeting her one day and hearing the stories of what it was like to be the mother of the Savior of mankind.
All of this in no way discounts the role Mary played in the history of the world. Of all the young women of all time, God chose her to do this amazing thing. No one else can lay claim to that. It was both a blessing and a burden. Yes, I shall like very much to sit with Mary and talk. It would be a great honor.
Motherhood is indeed a blessing and a burden that most moms carry well. While Mary is certainly deserving of great reward, she would likely say being Jesus’ mom was reward enough. Mother’s Day is coming this weekend, and we have become conditioned in our society to expect a reward on that day for being a mom. I celebrate as a mother because God chose me to be mother to Landon, Ryan, Laura, and Evan. Being their mom is reward enough, and they honor me best as they give their lives fully to the Lord and live lives that honor Him. I could not ask for more.