When I am searching for hope and encouragement in my Bible as a mother, of the gospels my favourite is the Gospel of Luke. There are some special treasures in there for mothers seeking insight into what the heart of motherhood looks like. Every single time I read the first few chapters, I am blessed again by the simple beauty in the heart of one mother for her son.
Why is the Gospel of Luke so special for a mother? It’s the only one that looks closer at Mary, Jesus’ mother, and what it was like for her raising the Saviour of the world.
What was it like raising God’s own Son? What was it like knowing what the ancient Scriptures taught about the Messiah? …About what would happen to him? …what would be required of him? How did a mother, flawed and like any other mother, care for such a special boy – one who would save people from their sins? What would be required of that mother?
Mary’s Requirement: A Sacrifice Like Her Son’s
After giving birth to Jesus, when he would have been about a week old, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for Mary to be purified (after birth) and for Jesus to be consecrated to the LORD, requirements under Jewish Law. A man named Simeon, who was waiting for the Messiah, took Jesus in His arms and dedicated Him to the LORD. Then he said something that would have rocked Mary to the depths of her being:
This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and 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
What would have gone through Mary’s mind at such words? What fear – that motherly-instinct deep in her core – would have gripped her, tempting her to snatch Jesus back from Simeon’s arms and take her baby far away from any threat? Mary was a normal mother, with normal motherly feelings.
…A sword will pierce her own soul, too.
The Sword That Would Pierce
Would it be a real sword? Was she and her Son going to die? Her mind would have rushed back over the many Scriptures she had known about the coming Messiah and what would happen to Him. Wasn’t He supposed to be a King that would rescue Israel? Why would this reveal the thoughts of peoples’ hearts?
She would not have known what it all meant, that only time would reveal God’s plans for Israel and, therefore, the fate of her Son. The only thing she could take from such words was that, whatever was going to happen, it was going to hurt deeply. To her very soul.
Burying the Treasure
I really believe that Mary, in the face of such a future, did what any mother would do: she treasured her Son, burying the special moments of His childhood deep in her heart.
When He did things that were beyond boys of His age and which amazed her, Mary
…treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 2:19
When He astounded her and Joseph by staying behind in the Temple teaching men two times His age, Mary
…treasured all these things in her heart. 2:51
Isn’t that so simple and yet, so beautiful? A mother who faced such trials and heartbreak – such bleak unknown – carefully and intentionally buried moments of her motherhood deep in her heart like irredeemable treasure.
Her Son was very special and He did different things during His formative years that were astounding and perplexing. Yet, He was also an ordinary kid who obeyed His parents and grew up under their parenting, their teaching, their discipline (Luke 2:52).
Mary understood and accepted that motherhood is a privilege and an honour. She knew that it could be here today, but gone the next. She faced a future of uncertainty certain that every day of her children’s lives matter, however momentous or mundane. Mary had a mother-heart that treasured the role of parenting her children, even the Saviour of the world.
Her Treasure, Our Example
Friends, Mary is to be an example to us. Though we live in different times, with different children, and with a different call upon our lives, Mary’s mother-heart can be our heart for our children, too.
Just like when the angel came to Mary and told her what God was going to do through her, Mary’s response to the prophecy about Jesus and herself was humble, trusting, godly. Mary accepted the cross that came with motherhood and the cross that came to her specific motherhood.
You may have a different cross to bear in your mothering. You may have a difficult child or one with a disability. You may be a single mother or a widow. You may have depression, a chronic illness, or an unhelpful spouse. Or, you may really struggle to believe in your ability to be a good mother. Every day may be a struggle not to feel inadequate, restless, dissatisfied.
- To have a mother-heart like Mary, we are to humbly submit to our Heavenly Father’s hand upon our life…
- We are to believe that whatever circumstance we are in, is His will for us – for our good and His glory…
- We are to rejoice – that is, intentionally praise God even when we don’t feel like it – for the privilege of mothering His little ones…
- And, we are to treasure every day moments with our children.
I believe that as we do this, no matter how hard it is or how much we doubt it’s worth it, God’s Spirit will grow in us a passion, a devotion, a willingness to love our children and thrive in our mothering. I know this to be true for myself. God has transformed selfish, resentful, rebellious thoughts of my heart into humility, praise, and delight for this role. Not that I don’t struggle – I do, so much – but God has captured my heart and given me a vision for motherhood.
We just have to trust Him – like Mary did – that if we are mothers, this is His perfect will for us right now. From there, our mother-hearts will just deepen and widen and expand.