“Then saith he to the disciple,
Behold thy mother!”
One of the great commandments of Christ came when He instructed John to look upon Mary and consider her as his mother. Bible scholars are united in interpreting these words as reflecting the Lord’s last provision so that His mother would be looked after by the disciple whom He loved.
In the transferring of this responsibility, the Lord desired for John to look upon Mary in a special way. Jesus wanted John to see Mary in the same way that He did. How then, did Christ look at His mother? When Jesus considered Mary, what did He behold? Did He look at someone to whom he would speak in contempt? From the biblical narrative comes the answer. When Jesus looked at Mary He saw
A Consecrated Woman Luke 1:26-38
A Concerned Woman Luke 2:41-51
A Considerate Woman Matthew 12:48
And a Correctable Woman John 2:1-5
A Courageous Woman John 19:27
A Commendable Woman Acts 1:14
The consecration of Mary to God’s work is told in Luke 1:26-38. It is a lovely story, for we are first introduced to Mary when she is a young maiden about to be married to the village carpenter named Joseph. One day, while Mary worked, an angel of God named Gabriel appeared to her and announced that the Lord had found favor with her. Mary was to be blessed among women for she was to give birth to the promised Messiah.
At first, Mary was confused. She did not know how she could give birth to a child since she was not married. Then the angel explained. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore, also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).
It was a great mystery, but Mary was willing to be used of God. Responding to the angelic announcement Mary said, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy Word.” In the magnificent moment Mary became a consecrated mother, set apart for God’s service.
In the May, 1996, issue of Decision Magazine. Ruth Graham McIntyre, the daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, writes about her mother. The article concludes with these words.”I realize that she is the lovely, beautiful and wise woman who she is today because early in her life she made Jesus Christ her home, her purpose, her center, her confident, and her vision. I associate joy with my mother, and I understand now that ‘the joy of the Lord is her strength’—and mine.’”
Today, the world desperately needs women who are consecrated to Christ. Many are converted to Christ. They believe in God and claim Christ as Savior. But some still need to come and literally say, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy Word.”
In addition to being a consecrated woman, Jesus looked at His mother and knew her to be a caring woman of deep concern and tender compassion. Perhaps, as the Lord lingered on the Cross, the scene flashed before His bloody brow of an incident that happened in Jerusalem long ago.
Jesus was only twelve at the time. Like other youth desiring to assert a certain amount of independence, Jesus stayed behind after the days of the Passover. The problem was that the Christ child had not told Mary and Joseph. During the next few hours, the young boy was not afraid, for He never left the area of the Holy Temple.
On the third day, Mary and Joseph finally found their Son. They were not happy parents though their unhappiness was soon tempered. Jesus was discovered sitting in the middle of a group of teachers listening to them and asking questions. Many people had gathered around the youth because they were astonished at His understanding of the Law and the way He was able to answer the Jewish Rabbis. It is not often that young people have a love for the Law of God and can speak with understanding about biblical truths, but it can happen.
Now, the only thing Mary wanted to know was why Jesus had stayed behind without telling anyone (Luke. 2:48). Mary had a mother’s heart and when she had discovered her child was not among the friends of the traveling caravan, she was immediately filled with concern. With Joseph, Mary turned back to Jerusalem. Day and night, hour after hour a search was made through the large city. Two parents were looking diligently for the child entrusted to their care. With tears in her eyes and terror in her voice Mary asked countless strangers, “Have you seen my Son, Jesus?” Finally, after great sorrow and distress, Mary found her Son who was safe in the sanctuary of His heavenly Father’s home.
To our modern world, Mary becomes a tremendous role model reminding all mothers to love their children and to be concerned for them. Such role models are needed in a society that literally allows the murder of its unborn children to be charged to a credit card.
The heart of many a modern mother has grown hard. The hand of love, designed by God to caress a new born baby, is now so often reached forth to kill, and to rob the cradle of a child for no good reason. How fortunate it is to be blessed with a mother who cares, like the mother of the Unknown Poet who wrote these words.
“She carried me under her heart;
Loved me before I was born;
Took God’s hand in hers and walked
through the Valley of Shadows that I might live;
She bathed me when I was helpless;
Clothed me when I was naked’
Gave me warm milk from her own body when I was hungry;
She rocked me to sleep when I was weary;
Pillowed me on pillows softer than down,
and sang to me in the voice of an Angel;
She held my hand when I learned to walk;
Suffered with my sorrow;
Laughed with my joy;
Glowed with my triumph; and while I knelt at
her side, she taught my lips to pray.
Through all the days of my youth she gave strength for
my weakness, courage for my despair, and hope to fill
my hopeless heart;
She was loyal when others failed;
She was true when tried by fire;
She was my friend when other friends were gone;
She prayed for me through all the days, when flooded
with sunshine or saddened by shadows;
She loved me when I was unlovely, and led me into man’s
estate to walk triumphant on the King’s Highway and
play a manly part.
Though we lay down our lives for her we can never
pay the debt we owe to a Christian mother.
Jesus had a mother who cared.
As Mary was caring, so she was considerate in public places. There was a day in His ministry when Christ was preaching and as usual the place where He ministered was packed.
When the right moment came, someone informed Jesus that outside the house was His mother and His brethren. They had sent word that they would like to speak to Him.
What is impressive about this moment is the fact that Mary did not demand to see Jesus. She did not use her name or her position to insist on special favors. Clothed with humility and social graces, Mary waited in respect for her Son to recognize her.
It is important for mothers to recognize the dignity and rights of their growing children and to treat them properly in a new way. There are few things more embarrassing than for a woman to manifest a dominating presence in a place that calls for social consideration and respect. Mary reminds mothers to be socially sensitive and considerate of children.
As Mary was a consecrated woman, a compassionate woman, and a considerate woman, she was also correctable. It was at a marriage supper in Cana of Galilee that this endearing characteristic was manifested.
As John tells the story, Jesus and His disciples had been invited to the celebration. Mary, as the narrative indicates, had some of the responsibility for making sure there was plenty of food and wine. The time came when Mary realized that the beverages were going to be diminished. This would be a great embarrassment to the host. Perhaps Jesus could help.
Going to her Son, Mary told Him, “They have no wine.” And the Lord responded, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.”
Whatever is to be understood by these words, it is clear hat they form a type of correction. It is also clear from the passage that Mary accepted the correction with a sweet and teachable spirit, for we read that she told the servants,
“Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5).
A teachable spirit, a correctable heart is the characteristic of a virtuous woman. Jesus remembered that His mother was teachable.
To have a sweet spirit does not mean to have a weak spirit. There is no doubt that as Jesus beheld His mother, He discerned the courage of Mary (John 19:27). Her presence at the Cross testified to her personal nerve.
Peter had boasted how he would never leave Jesus, but Peter had cursed and fled into the night.
Matthew had vowed he would never desert Christ in the hour of desperation, but the time of testing came and all the disciples fled.
But Mary, despite her fears, found her way to Calvary. She would be with Jesus while He suffered. Mary would be present when He died. A spear would pierce Christ’s side and a sword would pierce her soul. The courage of Mary was extra-ordinary in its expression. I have seen such courage in other mothers.
I have seen the courage of a mother, suddenly left alone with three small children in a large city, find a job in a hospital and begin to build a future.
I have seen the courage of a mother who refused anyone’s help but God’s, climb from poverty to being able to provide food and clothing and a few toys for the children she loved.
I have seen a mother endure beatings and blackmail, verbal abuse, and visible anger in order to keep a family unit together until the children were grown.
I have seen a mother find the faith and courage to leave an alcoholic environment in order to turn wine into bread, liquor into lunch money, and distilled spirits into shoes.
There is moral courage.
There is physical courage.
There is spiritual courage.
Mary manifested all three as she stood beneath the Cross of Christ. And her courage was honored, as will be the courage of all who dare to believe in Christ as Lord and Saviour, for on the third day Jesus arose from the dead. Suddenly, Mary’s many tears of sorrow were transformed into tears of rapturous joy.
Her Son was alive!
Her Son was her Saviour!
Her child was the Living God!
Is it any wonder that the last time we read of Mary; she is in the place of prayer? On the day of Pentecost, Mary was found in the Upper Room waiting for the outpouring of the power of the Holy Spirit. In the company of the committed, Mary is to be commended as a woman of prayer. That she prayed is certain, for we read Luke 1:46-55 and discover that Mary’s prayer life was seasoned by praise, joy, and thanksgiving.
There is nothing lovelier than that of a godly woman who prays, and the husband knows it, and the children know it as well. Susan Wesley is said to have prayed one hour each week for each of her many children. John and Charles Wesley never forgot the image of a mother praying for her children for they spoke of it often in their writings.
When Jesus told John to behold his mother, John would see Mary as Jesus did. John would see Mary as
a consecrated woman,
a concerned woman,
a considerate woman,
a correctable woman,
a courageous woman,
a commendable woman
and John would think well and speak well of Mary all the days of his life, just like the Master. The life Mary lived is the life all Christian women can live by God’s grace. And when such a life is over, it may be that the children will look and say to others, “Behold, MY mother!”
“You painted no Madonnas
On chapel walls in Rome,
But with a touch diviner
You lived one in your home.
You wrote no lofty poems
That critics counted art,
But with a nobler vision
You lived them in your heart.
You carved no shapeless marble
To some high soul design,
But with a finer sculpture
You shaped this soul of mine.
You built no great cathedrals
That centuries applaud,
But with a grace exquisite
Your life cathedraled God.
Had I the gift of Raphael
Oh, what a rare Madonna
My mother’s life would show.
~Thomas W. Fessenden