In last week’s blog Mary Mother of Jesus – Part 1, I wrote about the beginning of Mary’s journey in motherhood. How her remarkable faith, humility and courage stands out in the scriptures. Her instant obedience to God’s commands, as she follows the path God sets out before her. Her righteous fiancé Joseph is obedient alongside her. Mary is a mother I truly admire. On one hand she was living to pursue her maternal longing for her son, and on the other hand, acknowledging and understanding that her son was Lord of all.
In Luke 2:19 we read of the beautiful verse that gives a picture of Mary’s close walk with God. It reveals her wisdom to quietly consider her situation. It shows her humility as she quietly ponders with grace and elegance.
‘But Mary treasured up all theses things and pondered them in her heart.’
I pray to have such wisdom as a mother, instead of being so quick to respond about the situations in my life! This verse is inspiring and encouraging. As mothers we too can hold on to God’s word in our hearts. We can meditate on them and use them as a shield to protect us along our way.
The consecration of Jesus and Simeon’s prophecy
When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons,” (Luke 2:22-24).
Mary and Joseph were obedient to the Law of the Lord. They took the poor persons options to offer a pair of doves or two young pigeons, instead of a lamb. This itself tells us that they were far from wealthy, (Leviticus 12:8).
Simeon, described as righteous and devout, understood through the Holy Spirit that he would see the Lord’s Christ before he would die. It is at this point that Simeon shares some very profound words with Mary and Joseph in Luke 2:29-32.
‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’
When Mary and Joseph listen to Simeon sharing the prophecy, it fills me with excitement to think about what must have been going through Mary and Joseph’s minds! We are told that Mary and Joseph are filled with wonder, (Luke 2:33). It’s difficult to think of any other way they would have responded after having heard such words. It’s no wonder she kept these things in her heart.
‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too’, (Luke 2:34-35).
How exciting it is to imagine the kind of wonder they must have been filled with! So far, Mary’s journey has been filled with so much profound knowledge about who her first born son is and was to become. A sense of overwhelming revelation that spreads through the scriptures. A wonder that is filled with astonishment and a divine peace in Mary’s heart.
Jesus grows in strength
After Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph return to Galilee.
‘And the child grew and became strong, he was filled with wisdom, and the Grace of God was upon him.’ (Luke 2:40)
Jesus, a Jew, was a carpenter, (Mark 6:3). Or, if we were to look at the Greek, (tekton) a builder. Of which trade, there is much debate. However, during this time, it was likely that he worked with his father Joseph as a tradesman. This could have been working with stone or wood.
Mary and Joseph go to the annual Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem. It is at this point we get another glimpse of the future of Jesus. We read about the beginnings of His calling to preach. Nothing will stop Him from this calling, to the point where he stays behind in Jerusalem without informing his parents!
Mary and Joseph are anxious because they can’t find their son, (Luke 2:48).
Mary had had such divine encounters up to this point, it surprises me that she responds with anxiety. This is one of many parts of Mary’s journey that I do love reading, because of the comfort it brings. It expresses how natural her maternal response is towards her son. Even through the divine nature in which Mary came to carry her son, she is still very much a mother to Jesus having a maternal protection for Him. The responsibility that Mary’s son was Lord of all could have easily put more pressure on her when she couldn’t find Him.
Again, we see the contrast of Mary living to pursue her maternal longing for her son, then on the other hand, her acknowledging and understanding that her son was Lord. An amazing and yet extremely challenging combination.
Social factors also contribute to an understanding of Mary’s anxiety. During the time that Jesus was growing up, there would have been much social disorder where Mary and Joseph began their lives as a young family. It would have been an era of violence and political turmoil after the death of Herod. A very difficult time for many, including families. There would be deep scars remaining after the implications of Herod’s diabolical decision to have every first born son killed. It is no wonder that they were anxious!
As mothers, we can all put our minds to this situation and relate in some way to the worry and anxiety that Mary would have felt. Perhaps frantically searching for her son. The stomach twisting, gut wrenching feeling of loosing sight of your child.
I come from a family of two sisters and one brother. I am the youngest. My brother was 4 years old when he decided to hide behind the shed in our garden! It became more than just a game of hide and seek. My mother had the whole street searching for him! He probably would have been too young to understand the trouble and stress he had caused my mother, but understandably she was cross.
Jesus’s authoritative words that He spoke when he was found preaching in the temple (Luke 2:49), confirms the description of His growing strength and wisdom described in Luke 2:40. After the search for Jesus, He is both obedient to his calling and to His mother. They leave Jerusalem and made their way back to Nazareth together as a family. We don’t hear the conversation that follows between Jesus and his mother, but we do read that again, with wisdom, Mary,
‘treasured all these things in her heart.’ (Luke 2:51)
This is not the only time we see the authoritative behaviour towards his mother Mary. His family try to intervene during his ministry, (Mark chapter 3). At this time he is accused of being possessed by Beelzebub. There are other times in scripture that reveal His authority. They show the growing submission of Mary to her son’s divine nature.
His final words to Mary
‘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, this disciple took her into his home, (John 19:26-27).’
This is wonderful! Even when suffering on the cross, Jesus ensures that His mother is cared for by John His disciple. Mary provided for Jesus as his mother, and now Jesus was providing for her as a provider as her son, but also as a provider as Lord.
It becomes clear when we look at Mary’s story as a mother and devoted child of God, that her pondering, wonder and treasuring of all things in her heart is a beautiful example of her profound faith. She is a woman seeking and trusting God as she faithfully walks in her journey in motherhood. We can apply this same action of wisdom to our own journey in motherhood. Taking time to feed our hearts and minds with the words of God. There is a clear sense of a graceful, quiet spirit that seeps through the scriptures as we are directed through the story of Mary, mother of Jesus.
As a mother she is naturally wanting to acquire the relationship that any mother longs to have with her son. In contrast, Mary also submits to His authority as he grows into a young man and begins His ministry.
For Jesus, His work is priority. Yet, the final words Jesus speaks to His disciple John confirms the undeniable love for His mother. Jesus makes sure Mary is cared for before the ‘sword pierces her own soul’, (Luke 2:35).