Life Lessons from the Greatest Mother in the World
By Guest Contributor: Vicky Benson
Mothers often see their children as “special,” but Mary the mother of Jesus knew for sure that her first-born was special, because an angel had told her. No matter your religious persuasion, there’s little doubt that, as ordinary women in every-day circumstances, we can learn much from her life.
She accepted the responsibilities of future motherhood.
Imagine being a young Jewish woman in Roman-occupied Nazareth of Galilee, engaged to a fine man, learning from an angel that she would conceive a Son to be named Jesus. Mary wondered how this could be, since she was a virgin. However, Mary agreed, as a faithful maidservant of the Lord, to carry the Son of God! We also accept the responsibilities that are given to us, no matter how hard they are, because it is the nature of motherhood.
She sought confirmation from a mentor.
Young Mary made a hasty trip to visit Elizabeth, a relative known to be barren who had suddenly conceived. The older woman immediately pronounced a blessing on Mary and the baby she carried. This was all the confirmation Mary needed, and she burst out into a song of joy. As mothers, we too can know and believe that we will get the support we need, if only we will ask.
She was flexible as a wife.
Becoming Joseph’s wife meant traveling by government mandate from Nazareth to Bethlehem before the baby was due. Finding no room in the inn, Mary gave birth in a stable and placed her new baby in a feeding trough. When Joseph was warned in a dream to take the young Child and His mother and flee from King Herod to Egypt, Mary trusted what could have been seen as strange. Mothers are committed to each precious child entrusted to them through all emergencies.
She was not perfect.
She certainly tried. She and Joseph did everything required by the law, and Jesus grew and became strong in wisdom and spirit. When Jesus was twelve, they took Him with them for their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. Suddenly they faced a parent’s worst nightmare: the Son they were raising for God was nowhere to be found! (Apparently Mary was not a “helicopter parent,” at least!) When they found Him three days later teaching in the temple, Mary vented as any mother would, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have looked for you anxiously!” Even the best of mothers aren’t perfect and don’t always understand.
She trusted her grown Son to do the right thing.
Mary attended a wedding at Cana to which Jesus and His disciples were also invited. When Mary saw that they were running out of wine, she mentioned the problem to Jesus. Though He politely told her it wasn’t time yet for His public ministry, she confidently told the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it!” The servants obeyed Jesus’ instructions to fill six large pots with water. Miraculously, the water turned to wine. Mary knew that Jesus could be trusted.
She could sometimes get anxious about her adult child.
Jesus was sometimes an embarrassment to His family, and even His younger brothers did not believe in Him. Though people in His hometown were astonished at His wisdom, He could not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. Once, when His family heard how Jesus was drawing such crowds that He didn’t even have time to eat, they thought He was out of his mind and went to get him. Motherhood doesn’t stop when the child is grown, but mothers need to just let go and let their adult child do what they believe is right.
She was there to give support in her Son’s darkest time.
John records that Mary was among those who were by His cross as He was crucified. Though Jesus was being executed with criminals and accused of blasphemy, Mary stood by Him. Of all people, she knew that Jesus was virgin-born and really was the Son of God.
She believed in her Son to the end.
When Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after His resurrection, He told His followers to wait in Jerusalem until they were empowered to be His witnesses. Others joined them, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers, who now believed in Him. They all spent time in prayer together, waiting until they received what was promised. The message of Jesus—crucified, buried, and risen again—began to be shared powerfully in many languages on its way throughout the world. According to Hyppolitus of Thebes, Mary lived for 11 years after the death of her Son Jesus, dying in 41 AD. Mary, chosen by God to be the greatest mother in the world, had completed her earthly assignment.