“Students in an advanced Biology class were taking their mid-term exam. The last question was, ‘Name seven advantages of Mother’s Milk.’ The question was worth 70 points or none at all. One student, in particular, was hard put to think of seven advantages. However, he wrote:
- It is perfect formula for the child.
- It provides immunity against several diseases.
- It is always the right temperature.
- It is inexpensive.
- It bonds the child to mother, and vice versa.
- It is always available as needed.
And then the student was stuck. Finally, in desperation, just before the bell rang indicating the end of the test, he wrote:
7. It comes in two attractive containers and it’s high enough off the ground where the cat can’t get it.
He was awarded an A.”
My mother-in-love sent me that, and I laughed so hard when I read the line about the cat!
I hope this won’t seem insensitive, but a few weeks ago, I surveyed some pictures of the Nativity ~ of Mary with baby Jesus ~ and I was reminded that Jesus had a real flesh-and-blood Mama. As is portrayed in many works of art (though I did not choose to show them here), Mary likely suckled Jesus at her breast and smiled as he cooed with contentment.
They had a normal mother and baby relationship. She probably was frustrated with him if he cried in the wee hours of the night. She had to change soiled diapers (or whatever little Jewish babies wore back then). She watched him play with simple toys … maybe something Joseph carved from a chunk of wood.
She likely stared at her son from time to time … awed by her little one. His birth announcement certainly was out of the ordinary! I wonder if, when she cradled his little hands and feet, she understood that his calling from the Father would take him far away from home, touching and healing so many people.
I love what Erin Davis wrote in her book, Beyond Bath Time: Re-imagining Motherhood as a Sacred Role (Moody Publishers, 2012): “Being fully God, Jesus chose to come to earth. He chose to come as an infant and He chose to be mothered… “
I often speak in Mothers of PreSchoolers groups (MOPS), and the complaints and concerns of these young moms are all pretty much the same, but they also have similar aspirations for their children. I wonder what Mary’s aspirations for Jesus were. Did they line up with God’s plans? Did she and Joseph teach him purposefully?
Did Mary want Jesus to attend school with the priests as well as work alongside Joseph in the carpenter shop? Certainly she watched him develop relationship skills; but did she understand that Jesus ~ a special child with a mission from the Father in heaven ~ would never marry on earth and have children? (Yes, I know that we are “betrothed” to Christ at salvation … but I’m talking about earthly marriage and little children like those Jesus told the disciples not to forbid to come to him ~ Matthew 19:14).
We worship Jesus the King … the divine Son of God. But we must never forget His humanity. Because He came as a wee babe and grew to manhood with character and strength (Luke 2:52), we have an example to emulate as well as a Savior who understands us, our temptations and struggles. He became our righteous substitute (Isaiah 53:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).
So I like to think about Mary, right before Christmas … to think about the mission God entrusted her to complete ~ to raise Jesus from babyhood to manhood, all to the glory of God and for His purposes. Put yourself in her place today.
Mary was part of God’s big picture for the world. As Erin Davis said, “Yes, Jesus chose a womb. But that was a little choice. The bigger choice was to make a way for you to be saved from your sin. Remembering that has the power to move you from the little things that make mothering tough to the big idea that you are a critical part in the larger story.” Mothers, take heart. God has a plan for each mother’s life … your life. A mission.
This woman who cradled Jesus at her breast pondered many things (Luke 2:19) and eventually watched him die a terrible death (John 19:26-27). And we know Mary recognized her own sinful nature and proclaimed Jesus to be her own Savior (see Luke 1:46-55, especially verses 46-47).
We do not worship Mary, but we do praise her. We can thank God today that young Mary was His willing servant (Luke 1:38), and at this Christmas season we can commit to obeying Him in all He asks us to do.