I'm starting a new series today. It's on different people--different characters, if you will--in the Bible. If you're like me, you often have unanswered questions about the people we read about. Questions that actually can never be answered fully, but with a little imagination and common sense we can come up with some interesting ideas about them and their lives, before and after they encountered Jesus Christ.
I'll begin with Mary. The Mother of God.
Tradition tells us that Mary was probably a teenage girl of about 15 or 16 when she became pregnant with Jesus. We don't know much about her family, but she probably lived a very typical Jewish life. One thing we do know about Mary, however, is that she was not a typical Jewish girl.
"The angel went to [Mary] and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Luke 1:28
That verse tells us Mary was different from all the other young maidens in the land. She'd found favor with God. How? My guess is it all began in her heart. Her heart was obviously turned toward God from a very early age. Even her response to the angel, spoken with a little fear at what was happening and what was being said, tells us about Mary's character:
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." v. 38
But Mary was also a mother. And we mom's tend to worry. And we tend to meddle. Mary was no different, which I absolutely love. I can so relate to these two stories:
Luke 2:41-52 tells about twelve-year-old Jesus becoming separated from his parents during a trip to Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph searched for him for three days before they discovered him in the temple. Mary's response is typical of a worried mother:
"Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." v. 48
Oh, the panic in a parents' heart when their child is missing! Even for a few minutes, let alone three days! I imagine Mary kept a keen eye on Jesus for quite some time. I think it's interesting that they found Jesus on the third day. Was this God's way of preparing Mary for another terrible three-day period she would experience with her son, Jesus?
The other story that makes me smile is found in John 2:1-11. Jesus, Mary and the disciples are at a wedding. Obviously it's someone they all know and care about. They're there helping to celebrate. But before the celebration is over, the wine runs out. Mary knows this could be very humiliating for the bride and groom. She also knows by now that her son has the power to do something about it.
"When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." v. 3-5
Mary, Mary. You are a woman after my own heart! Being a mother of grown young men myself, I can absolutely picture this scene. Even though Jesus was thirty years old by now, Mary was still his mom. Even though she obviously understood who he was--that he had the power to do something amazing!--she was still his mom. "Fix this problem" she basically says. And like the obedient son Jesus is, he obeys his mom. I love it!
Mary's greatest heartache, however, had to come when she watched her son crucified. Tears come to my eyes when I read John 19:25-27:
"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother...When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, the disciple took her into his home."
Can you picture it? There is Jesus, brutalized, bleeding, nailed to a cross, and yet his thought is for his mother's well-being. How her heart must have broken seeing her little boy on that cross. And yes, I believe Mary saw her little boy, her son, and not the Son of God hanging there. She carried that child in her womb. She nursed him. She watched him grow. She bathed him, taught him, laughed with him, disciplined him. Jesus was her son in every way that my boys' are my sons. I can't even begin to imagine the pain of watching my beloved son die on a cross!
But after Jesus' death and resurrection, Mary knew her son was now her Savior. In Acts 1:14 we read that Mary is gathered with the disciples and close followers of Jesus in an upper room in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit descends upon them. I believe she was with them when Jesus appeared after his death (John 20) and when he ascended into heaven (Acts 1). How glad it makes my heart to know that Mary's sorrow at watching Jesus die only lasted a little while.
Luke 2:19 sums up Mary's life as Jesus' mother in my mind:
"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
What an amazing thing to be Jesus' mother. I can't wait to meet Mary in heaven!
This week's Prayer Shout-Out countries are:
USA, United Kingdom, Sweden, Malaysia, Latvia, Singapore, Ukraine