What was it like to be a mother to God? It is difficult enough to raise human children. I can’t imagine having the Most High God Himself in my house as a toddler or a teenager!
Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
In reflecting on the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection, I feel pulled to ponder the events from Mary’s perspective. We usually think of the mother of Jesus more at Christmas time, but she was very much a part of the first Easter as well.
Several times, Luke mentions in the first couple of chapters of his gospel that Mary pondered the deeper meanings of all that was happening and treasured these things in her heart. Let’s follow her example and ponder for a while.
It seems that Mary’s husband was no longer by her side in the later years. Joseph is not mentioned in the Scriptures in Jesus’ adulthood. Many scholars speculate that he had passed away by this time.
He did apparently live long enough to father at least six children after Jesus was born (Matthew 13:55-56). Mary possibly raised Jesus and his brothers and sisters—seven children at a minimum—alone. First, she was an unwed mother, and then a single parent. Being God’s chosen one is never an easy road.
At the time of His arrest and crucifixion, most of Jesus disciples ran and his own siblings did not believe Him (John 7:5). It is interesting to me that Jesus appointed the disciple John to take care of His mother after He was gone and not one of his four brothers (John 19:26-27).
Mary, however, stayed with Him throughout His ordeal on the cross despite the terrible cost it must have been for her to witness it. I can’t imagine watching my beloved child endure such a horrible torture and death.
It was not just a death, but an unusually cruel one.
Not only death but excruciating torture beforehand.
Not merely an execution but the most undeserved punishment that has ever been dealt.
Not only punished but disgraced, degraded, and cursed.
Not just falsely accused but taunted, mocked, and ridiculed.
Not only all this but deserted and left alone in His darkest hours.
How could she watch that? Simeon was right. It must have felt like a sword was piercing her very soul to have to watch such atrocities unfold. I wonder if she remembered what Simeon had told her when she and Joseph presented their precious miracle baby at the Temple thirty-three years before.
What an incredible test of faith! Not just for Mary, but for everyone who dared to hope that what He promised was true—to watch the gruesome death of promised Messiah, the very Son of God Himself, the Eternal One through Whom all things were created.
But it was impossible for Mary to deny what she knew. She was probably the only person alive who was absolutely sure that His miraculous birth was the real deal. Even if no one else believed her story about the angel and the Holy Spirit and her purity toward Joseph, she knew the truth. There was no room for doubt in her personal experience.
She had faith in Him from the beginning. It was she who encouraged Him toward His first public miracle recorded in Scripture at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-11). Before He had a public ministry or a single follower, fan, or “like”, she believed in Him.
“Do whatever He tells you,” were her words to the servants. She didn’t know what He was going to do, or how He would make it happen, but she had no doubt He would fix the problem . . . in spite of the fact that He himself had already told her it wasn’t His time yet. His actions that day hinted at His glory and helped his disciples believe (John 2:11). Her faith in Him inspired theirs.
Does your faith inspire others to believe Jesus is who He says He is?
What did she experience with Him between the Christmas story and the start of His earthly ministry? We have a record of his birth (Lk 2:1-21), a short glimpse of him as a toddler (Mt. 2:11,16), and a story from when he was 12 (Lk 2:41-49). Other than that, the Bible is pretty much silent on the 30 years before He began healing, teaching, and declaring forgiveness to sinners.
I wonder what other stories Mary could tell us about Jesus’ childhood and home life. Luke 2:51 tells us He was an obedient child, but we could easily guess that for ourselves. He was sinless after all. That would seem to make parenting Him easier, and I guess in many respects it did.
However, I surmise that parenting Someone who is infinitely more wise and intelligent than you are would come with its own set of challenges. I know from personal experience what it’s like to have your own child outsmart you!
At what point did she realize who He really was? The angel told her He would be called the Son of God. Luke 2:50 says Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus meant when He said He had to tend to His Father’s business, so they apparently did not think he was the Son of God when He was 12. It seems that Jesus already knew, or had some idea at least.
Mary did not seem the least bit surprised when He turned water into wine. In fact, she expected it. Had He done something like it before? Had she witnessed any miracles before the public did? Or had He chosen to reserve those for His later ministry?
What was it like . . .
. . . to give birth to your Deliverer?
. . . to have the Creator of all life depend on you for food?
. . . to mother your own Savior?
. . . to raise the One who would redeem you?
. . . to watch the long-awaited Messiah, your firstborn son, be executed?
When did Mary realize God walked beside her? What did she think as she watched Him die? Did she know God was with her still?
What about us? God is in our midst. Do we realize it? Do we even acknowledge His presence? Or do we push through our day and plow through our to-do list forgetting the One who died that we might live?
We don’t know the exact moment when Mary understood that her son was her God clothed in the humility of human form. But we can examine the Scriptures for ourselves to answer Jesus question, “Who do you say that I AM?”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Matthew 16:15, NIV
Because that’s what it all boils down to. Each of us must answer Jesus’ question for ourselves. It cannot be avoided.
He claimed to be God, but was He? If not, then who was he?
If His claims were false, then He was either delusional or a pathological liar. To call Jesus merely a good human teacher and stop there is not really an option, though many try to say it is.
When we examine the evidence, the truth is clear. Jesus is our Holy God, just as He claimed to be.
So, I ask you. Who do you say that Jesus is? And what difference does your answer make in your life today?