Dear God, as I think about trying to get into Mary’s (Jesus’s mother) skin, I think I want to break it into four parts:
- Conception, Pregnancy & Birth
- Parenting the Child
- Parenting the Adult & Crucifixion
- Resurrection & Post-Ascension
Frankly, I think these three years must have been a mystery to Mary. It had to have made no sense to her. I don’t know how much Jesus revealed to her about the revelations he was having as he matured. Did he tell her he was sensing he would be a sacrifice and not a conqueror? What were his relationships with her other children like? How much was she paying attention to him at this point vs. loving her other children? What were her expectations on Jesus as she carried the knowledge from her first angel visit up to this point?
This how John introduces us to Mary. Really, we don’t get too many Mary stories during Jesus’s adulthood, but this is the first one.
One thing that is always lost in written form is town of voice and body language. I wish we could hear the exchange between Jesus and Mary here. When Mary went to Jesus with the wine concern, was she playful? Did she have that little motherly twinkle in her eye that passively communicated to Jesus what she wanted him to do? And was his reply said in a frustrated or playful manner? Was he exasperated or was he just playing a game that had played many times before. The story certainly has a feel for not being the first time.
What we do know is that Mary understands he has special abilities. He is supernatural. He can creatively solve this problem and many others like them. I wonder what kinds of other expectations she had of him over the next three years that he didn’t yield to. I also think it’s important to remember that she is likely the last living person who experienced the angel visits firsthand. Joseph is likely dead. So too are Elizabeth and Zechariah. She doesn’t have anyone to back her up–to talk this through with. We all often need at least one other voice to help us sort things out sometimes. Our decision making and ability to evaluate a situation is often compromised when we do it in isolation. We are better in community. In Mary’s case, there simply was no one else at this point who could help her understand what was happening.
I also wonder why kinds of conversations she and Joseph had about Jesus while Joseph was living. Did they share their hopes and dreams for him and his life? Did they see liberation and world domination for Israel through him?
Jesus’s Mother and Brothers
I’m so glad Matthew, Mark, and Luke gave us this story of Jesus speaking and his mother and brothers outside asking to speak with him. It’s interesting that this happens in Matthew 12:38-50, and then Matthew gives us a chapter later in Matthew 13:53-58 the story of Jesus being rejected in the temple.
I can’t help but wonder what the family dynamics were like at this point. I know that family members talk about each other with each other. I can imagine Jesus’s siblings talking with Mary, not having personal experience with the angel visits, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Anna and Simeon, the shepherds, the wise men, etc. I can hear them questioning Jesus’s decisions and telling Mary he’s out of control. On the one hand, this seems like a big leap on my part, but the evidence in chapters 12 and 13 of Matthew is compelling. First, we know they want him to come out to them, away from being the center of a crowd and he rejects it. The intimation for me is that they were trying to correct him and control him. They didn’t trust him and believe in what he was doing. That’s the siblings anyway. Did Mary share those thoughts or was she badgered into them by his siblings. Was she legit concerned, or was she giving in to the concerns of her other children.
Regardless, it’s in chapter 13 that Jesus acknowledged that he feels neglected by his family. Much like movie lines that get misquoted and then taken as fact, the passage of Jesus’s rejection in the temple in Matthew 13:53-58. Verse 57 is the one we often quote as, “A prophet is without honor is his hometown.” But there is something else added to the end, and I checked the different translations to make sure they were consistent in this and they were. The New Living Translation quotes Jesus as saying, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his household.” (Emphasis mine) He obviously felt disrespected by his siblings at a minimum. Was Mary part of this skeptical disrespect too? All I can say is that Matthew made her a part of the first story and then included her as one of the people named by the crowd in the temple. It feels like she was not sure what was going on with Jesus or what to believe.
So here we are. Seemingly, the end of the road for her son. There’s a song called, “Then Came the Morning.” I’ve mentioned it in these prayers before. The second verse talks about Mary: “The angel. The star. The kings from afar. The wedding. The water. The wine. Now it was done. They’d taken her son. Wasted before his time. She knew it was true. She’d watched him die too. She’d heard them call him, ‘Just a man.’ But deep in her heart she knew from the start somehow her son would live again.” Now, I’m not really down with that last part. I don’t see any evidence that she knew deep in her heart he’d rise again. As I’ve told you before, it’s like Princess Leia saying she’d known all along that she was Luke’s sister. No she didn’t.
But I digress. As she stood next to John at the foot of the cross, what must she have been thinking? Did Simeon’s words from Luke 2 in the temple come back to her: “This child is destined to cause the rising and falling 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.” Did she look around at the Pharisees and see their hearts revealed? Was she disillusioned with her Jewish leadership? And as for her own soul. Did she have regrets as a mother? Did she wish she had stopped Jesus from being so provocative? Was it all a waste of time? And how did God feel about all of this? Where were you in this?
Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I offer you everything today. You know what’s on my heart. I don’t know where all of this is going? I don’t know how to parent my adult children. I don’t know so much. Teach me today. Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, on this Good Friday, the day that represents this terrible beating and crucifixion, teach me today.
I pray this all under your authority, grateful for you and everything you are to me,