Author: Ron Graham


Mary, Example of Motherhood
—In three important ways

The Bible doesn't say much about Mary, the mother of Jesus. But the few things that are said, show her to be an example of motherhood in three very important ways.

Mary’s own words, and various things said about her in the Bible, indicate that she was a good and virtuous mother. Three things show Mary to have been an exemplary mother, a pattern for all mothers who want to excel in the responsibility of motherhood.

1 Mary Suffered Shame and Sorrow for Her Son

A maiden’s shame.

Mary became a mother in unique circumstances. When an angel told Mary that she was going to have a baby, she said, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34).

Virgins don't have babies. If an unmarried woman is “expecting”, it's assumed that she has been either sinful or sinned against. Mary was willing to bear that shame, knowing few people would believe she was truly a virgin with child.

Sorrow at the cross.

At the other end of Jesus’s life, "Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister; also Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene" (John 19:25).

Mary the mother of Jesus stood near to the cross so that her son could see her and know she was there for him. She suffered with him as though to bear some of his pain. That's what mothers do.

Jesus also cared for his mother, committing her to the care of his beloved disciple with those memorable words, "Behold your son... Behold your mother" (John 19:26-27).

2 Mary Treasured her Son’s Life in Her Heart

Treasures in Her Heart

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, shepherds came to visit him, and told everyone of what they'd heard angels say about him (Luke 2:7-20). Everyone was amazed, "but Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).

Likewise, when Jesus was a boy and becoming more independent, his mother watched him growing up in Nazareth. And she "treasured all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:51).

Encouraging Jesus’s Ministry

Mary, mother of Jesus, took interest in her son’s ministry. She encouraged his first miracle (John 2:1-10). She also accompanied him on his early missions. "After this Jesus went down to Capernaum, accompanied by his mother, his brothers, and his disciples..." (John 2:12).

3 Mary Mothered Her Son, but Didn't Smother Him

Jesus Puts Mission Before Mother

Jesus, as his work developed, had less time to spend with his family. "While he was speaking to the crowds... someone said to him, 'Behold, your mother and your brothers are standing outside waiting to speak to you'" (Matthew 12:46-47).

"Jesus replied, 'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' And stretching out his hand toward his disciples he said, 'Behold [these are] my mother and my brothers!'" (Matthew 12:48-49).

Mary’s Motherly Sacrifice

Mary, mother of Jesus, had given much to her Son. She expected little in return. Mary knew that Jesus had a mission. She let him take control of his own life and give priority to his mission. She didn't cling; she didn't demand; she let him go with her blessing.

Mary had not objected when God named her baby. His name was his mission. She had obediently taken her baby to the temple to dedicate him to the Lord (Luke 2:21-24). Mary was not going to complain when her son pursued his calling.

Children grow up and go their ways. They cleave to other loves. The nest becomes empty, and mothers lose “possession” of their children. For mothers this can be a hard sacrifice, as it was for Mary.

Mary’s Prayers

This doesn't mean that she gave up doing anything for her son. For example, After Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven, Mary his mother is found with the band of disciples, devoting herself to prayer for his kingdom.

"The disciples, all of one mind, were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers" (Acts 1:14).

We can be confident that Mary had habitually prayed for her son since he was conceived, and that she would continue to do so as long as she lived.

Mothers Like Mary

Mothers are loyal to their children, even when their children bring shame or sorrow upon them.

Mothers wonder at their children, and treasure their peculiarities and specialness.

Mothers mother their children, but don't smother them, letting them go their way and cleave to other loves.

Mothers cherish their children, and continually pray for them —and what better gift is there besides the gift of life itself?