Most Christians focus on every word and incident in Jesus’ life as recorded in the four Gospels. But I’m also drawn to the people involved. How did they relate to Jesus? What was their story?
Being the mother of three children, there is an event in the Bible I totally understand from Mary’s point of view. She was Jesus’ mom and caught him teaching the religious teachers in the Temple in Jerusalem at the age of 12 after he had been missing for three days. Here’s the story in Luke 2:41-52.
Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”
“But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
I can imagine what happened next:
Mary: “I don’t care WHO you are. Don’t talk to your mother like that.”
God: “I don’t care WHO you are. Don’t talk to your mother like that.”
Joseph: “You’re grounded for the next week when we get home, and don’t EVER pull a stunt like this again.”
Jesus got the message.
Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.
Wait a minute…..how dare Mary talk to Jesus like this! She knew he was God’s Son, the Messiah. The angel Gabriel had told her so on the front end. But Mary had given birth to him and raised him, and was living with a 12-year-old kid. Have you ever wanted to strangle a pre-teen? Jesus was fully God, but also fully human. Verse 52 says, “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” Well, he had a lot of growing up left to do when this incident happened, and his parents were stuck with the job.
I think one of the reasons God picked Mary to be the mother of His Son was she had the guts and strength to take on the challenge.
In my book, Uncensored Prayer: The Spiritual Practice of Wrestling With God, I wrote what I think about this woman. According to Luke, here’s what Mary did after the angel announced she would give birth to the Messiah:
Then she immediately ran to see Elizabeth, excited to tell her the good news.
I wish Scripture told us more about Mary’s three month visit with her relative. When did reality set in? For Mary, the pregnancy meant tremendous public scorn, possibly death by stoning. What would her parents say? Would Joseph reject her? At some point, Mary had to think, “What is God doing to me? Was I insane to agree to this?” I bet she and God had a world-class wrestling match on the mat with Uncensored Prayer. We like to think of Mary as pious and demure, but I think she was more than that.
What if God selected her for this challenge of faith and commitment because she was a fighter? I think the key to her courage was she knew that even though Gabriel had left, God hadn’t and wouldn’t. He was her partner, and she knew she could trust Him to help her handle everything that lay ahead. Mary was one of the three women who had the courage at stand at the foot of the cross watching Jesus die, even though every one of the disciples except John had abandoned him. She had faith in God that overcame her fear.
I really like Mary. I wouldn’t have wanted her job, but we would have been great friends. She was a lot like me.