The stories of Jesus’ early life are, in many ways, the most fascinating and mysterious of them all. The ones that relate to His mother are particularly rife with human emotion, angst, and devotion. The fact that she played an integral part in the Lamb of God’s human development is often neglected and simply ignored by many of us.
After His birth, we don’t read anything about Jesus until He is twelve years old. You may remember the story. The Holy Family took a trip to Jerusalem along with many other pilgrims of their day. The went there to celebrate the Passover. It was a longstanding Jewish tradition. To this day, Jews all over the world end their Passover Seder Meals with the expression, “Next year in Jerusalem!”
They Were a Nervous Wreck
It was customary for the women and men of the various villages to travel in all female groups and all male groups. The children could travel either with the men or the women. There was no strict custom for them to follow. Because of that, Jesus was inadvertently left behind. Joseph thought He was with Mary, and Mary thought He was with Joseph. After traveling a day, they discovered Jesus was missing and rushed back to the Holy City—probably a nervous wreck.
When they arrived, they searched three days for Him. Scripture tells us that Jesus was in the Temple conversing with the teachers (who found Him to be amazingly wise and thoughtful). Mary, however, was in no mood to be swayed by a bunch of old men. In typical Jewish mother fashion, she gave Jesus a piece of her mind. Though He thought he was doing what the Lord wanted Him to do, he went with His earthly parents and, apparently, didn’t cause them any more problems. At any rate, we don’t hear anything else about Him until he’s in his late twenties.
At that point, John’s Gospel places Jesus, His mother, and His disciples at a wedding in Cana. I’m guessing you’ve heard the story. The bridegroom runs out of wine and is about to be totally humiliated. Mary cajoles Jesus to do something, but Jesus tells her in no uncertain terms that His time had not yet come. In other words, no miracles today, Mom.
The Same Woman
The same woman who dragged him out of the Temple when He believed He was doing God’s will, now forced His hand to begin His public, earthly ministry—much to His chagrin, I might add. Mary stopped Jesus from ministering when He was twelve and pushed Him back into it when he was twenty-nine.
As Mothers’ Day approaches, I think it’s imperative for us to remember the importance of earthly parents. If Jesus needed them, how much more do we. God the Father used a young woman of humble birth to not only parent His Son, but to direct His footsteps in ministry.
There’s something fascinating about the God of the Universe being vulnerable to this Jewish handmaiden. What’s a mother to do?
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]