This post is a continuation of what I’ve written before about God and moms. You can find that here.
Moms do. They forgo sleep in order to bathe and clean, bandage and cook, care for and soothe. Moms desire peace in their homes and families. Sometimes they can encourage that kind of peace, at least outwardly, but sometimes they can’t, especially inwardly, and as their children get older, they really shouldn’t try to fix everything for their children. Easy, pain-free lives don’t prepare children for the world they will enter as adults.
We don’t know a lot about Mary, but I’m sure she was a lot like us regular moms. But we should also pay more attention to the particularly special role she played in the story of redemption. Those of us who are Protestants should probably think more about this special role. Only one woman was chosen to bear the Son of God. Only one woman experienced all that went with the incarnation and birth of Jesus Christ. She didn’t understand everything, but Scripture tells us she hid everything in her heart, pondering all that was said about Jesus and done by Jesus, faithfully following him her whole life.
Jesus entered public ministry around the age of 30. We don’t know a lot about what Mary thought of this. We have the scene at the wedding in Cana, but we also see Jesus’ half brothers scoffing at him. Did she try to fix that and explain to her other children who their brother really was? When did she fully realize it? Did she spend nights agonizing in prayer as her son faced opposition from the religious leaders? At one point, Mary and her family went to look for Jesus. (see Mark 3:31-35) The crowd around him pointed out their presence but Jesus seems to separate himself from them, declaring that anyone who believes in him and does God’s will is a part of his family. Was Mary hurt by this? Did she feel like somehow Jesus didn’t care about her?
At the time of the crucifixion, it seems that Mary had become a widow. To be a widow in those days was a scary proposition. God had instructed his people on how to care for widows. They were to be provided for by their sons. But where were Mary’s other sons? We don’t know. The only son she could look to was dying on a Roman cross. Many things in her life hadn’t gone according to the plan she had in mind ever since she received that message from Gabriel. Again, we’re not told a lot about Mary’s life as a mother after Jesus was born, or of her particular struggles, but she probably did what normal mothers do – she served, loved, prayed, pondered, agonized and tried to fix. But as she looked on her son, the Son of God, nailed to a cross, she couldn’t fix that. Did she understand what Jesus was doing? Was she frightened and worried at the prospects for herself, a widow whose oldest son was dying before her eyes?
In that moment, we’re not told what was going on in Mary’s heart and mind. But we are told what her oldest son, the very Son of God, does for her right before he breathes his last breath.
“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.” John 19:26-27
Mary’s other sons seem to have abandoned her, but Jesus provides another to care for her – John. The mother who had borne more than any other mother, the mother who had cared and soothed, prayed and pondered, the mother who now found herself abandoned, was provided for. And not just physically and materially. Yes, in instructing the apostle John to take Mary into his home, she would find safety and provision. But what neither Mary nor John fully realized was that Jesus Christ was providing for both of them in the most important way. In bearing the penalty of their sin as their substitute, in being buried in that tomb then rising again on the third day, then ascending to the right hand of his Father to ever intercede on their behalf, and finally pouring out his Spirit on Pentecost, Jesus Christ – the Son of God – was providing for ALL their needs.
As Mary looked to her dying son, most likely a weary and broken woman, a devastated and confused mother, that son was caring for her in every way she would need. And in every way all of us would need.
There was only one Mary, but all moms can relate to her weariness, confusion and brokenness. We wonder how our children will be cared for and who will care for us. We spend hours praying and pondering, trying to fix things and bring peace, wondering how we’ll get through the next day, the next month, the next year. But take heart! If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, he is now your Savior, your Brother and your Friend, the One upon whom we’re exhorted to cast all our cares. Why?
Because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7)