Monday, December 12, 2011

What Exactly Did Mary Know?

"Mary, did you know... that your baby boy would one day walk on water..."
"Mary did you know... that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man..."
"Mary did you know... that when you kiss your little baby, you've kissed the face of God..."

I'm guessing that while Mary did have a general idea of where this thing was headed, she had no idea the gut-wrenching sacrifice she herself would make for the world's benefit. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Ever since I became a mom, the Christmas story has taken on a new dimension. It actually started two weeks after Abi's birth, when I sat in a theater watching the just released Passion of the Christ. There was a point in the movie when I literally felt my heart break like I've never felt before. If you're a mom, chances are, you remember the part well.

Jesus is carrying his cross down the alleyway. At one point, he stumbles. Mary flashes back in her memory to once when Jesus was in a similar alleyway as a child of probably 5 or 6, and he fell while running. In her memory, she ran to Him, scooped Him up into her arms, and soothed Him as only a mother can. In her reality, her 33 year old son fell in front of her, and she ran to Him to soothe Him- only to no avail, as the mission ahead of Him provided no comfort. As I sat there in the theater, I remember a sob emerging from my throat, thinking how she must have felt to have her hands so totally tied- watching while her heart was beaten beyond recognition and scorned for crimes He did not commit.

For her.

Every year, since I became a mom, Mary has become one of my Christmas heroes. (I don't idolize or praise her, so please don't freak out at that comment. Geesh.) Fact is, Catholic or Protestant, we can't ignore the fact that she played a vital part in the Savior of the world bearing my sin. She said yes when she was approached with the offer of an eternity.

I am convinced- She had no idea what she was saying yes to.

None of us do, do we? We get married, decide to have children, and we jump in with both feet into a world we are in no shape, form, or fashion prepared for. Being a babysitter, an aunt, an uncle, a caregiver... none of it prepares you for the massiveness of the task at hand when you can't send the kids home at the end of your day. There's mounds of work, worry, stress, and strain to accompany the tremendous joys. For every high, there's a low, and for every bad day, there are a million good ones. There's feeding, weaning, potty training, sleep training, temper tantrums, busted lips, skinned knees, bruised egos, and broken hearts. There's hugs, kisses, snuggles, hand holding, and silliness. No one prepares you for the endless seasons of monotony when they're newly born, and no one tells you about the unpredictable chaos in the toddler years.

Bottom line- you don't know what you're doing or where you're going when you say yes to becoming a parent.

Back to Mary. How could this girl- whom theologians guess was 13-15 years of age- possibly know what lay ahead of her as a parent, nevermind the parent of the Prince of Peace? She was given a pretty good heads-up that this was kind of a big deal when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and gave her the challenge... and once again when the prophet Simeon said to her that "...a sword would pierce her own soul." But did she really get it?

Did she really know that He would be a stranger in their hometown?
Did she know he would challenge His elders at the age of 12, and tear the temple to pieces in righteous anger as a man?
Did she forecast His daredevil side- that would touch a leper, a woman with a bleeding disorder, and allow a prostitute to wash His feet with her tears?
Did she see ahead of time that her Son would raise a dead girl from her slumber, spit in the dirt and heal a blind man, and break cultural taboos with an encounter at a well?
Did she know He would have a choice whether or not to continue on- and choose to keep going, even when His sweat would turn to blood?
Did she know He would have Heaven's armies at His disposal, and refuse their services?

We have this idea that Jesus was basically a child who never played, never made a mess, never had that twinkle of mischief in His eye... But we forget He came to this earth as a MAN. Not a Deity. He got dirty. He had to learn to potty like everyone else. He spilled His milk and had to wash His hands like any other grimy boy. Know that part of the old Christmas carol- "But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes?" Um, yeeeeeeeeah. Right. You're born in a barn, lying on a mound of hay, and you're not going to cry? Whatever.

I'm sure there were seasons when to Mary, Jesus was just another child. An active boy with His earthly father's penchant for woodwork. A growing teenage boy with stinky laundry and a messy room. Mary was His mother- the one who provided His lunches, washed His underwear, and packed His bag for sleepovers. But I'm sure with each passing day and especially as each birthday came around, she wondered how many days like these were left with her boy before He fulfilled what He was born to do.

I wonder about my own children. Will Abi be a nurse in an orphanage overseas? Will Walker join the military or play college football on the other side of the country? Is Abi going to say, "Mom, I want to live in LA?" Will there come a time when Walker will only come home for Christmas? **Sigh** Every Christmas morning is one closer to them leaving my nest. Each added candle to their cakes means they are an inch closer to moving out of my arms and into someone else's.

But Mary's Son? He moved from Heaven, to her arms, to a cold and splintery cross for a display of God's love toward a world that would shun Him.

My son may serve with a badge on his shirt. Her Son served by stripping Himself of badges and honor.

My son will have skinned knees and will lose a tooth every now and then. Her Son was beaten beyond recognition to heal my wounds.

My son will be separated from me while he pursues his dreams, and there will come a time when I cannot rush to his side to fix it. Her Son was separated from His Father because He became the sin of the world and when He cried out to his Daddy, there was no answer. This is all so He can always answer MY cries.

My son will grow up in a circle of love and adoration by his family and his peers- constantly affirmed of his worth and his greatness. Her Son was rejected by His own friends and family. He was mocked, ignored, and even the one closest to Him pretended not to know Him in the darkest hour of His life.

My son will love his mama. Her Son died for His.

Her Son couldn't deal with eternity without Walker in it. Her Son gave MY son life.

So, come to think of it- my son is also a key player in this story, isn't he? If he had been the only one to need Mary's Son- the only one to gain from His sacrifice- He would have come for him.

I'm thankful for Mary- for her willingness to say yes to a plan that would rip her open and cause her heart to be both shattered and redeemed at the same time. I'm thankful for Jesus- for His choice to push through sweat and blood, agony and defeat, in order to win the ultimate prize- MY son.

Because of Mary's example, I feel a deeper calling as a mother to give my children to their Maker, 100%. If an unwed teenage girl can pull herself together to raise a child in the Middle East, and then wait with baited breath for Him to take HIS last breath and save the world... Surely I can raise mine to serve Him.

And then summon the strength to let them go wherever He leads them.


  1. Oh my Jill. I can't begin to explain how much this got to me, the truth of loving and sacrificing for our children. Mary was indeed the strongest mother. Thank God for his Son as well as our own children and grandchildren. God bless you for having the gift of words to share with us. You aae a blessing.

  2. In light of watching one of my closest friends loose her son, this touched many cores! The depth of what a mother feels...!

  3. Dear Friend,

    Your words have touched me. Thank you.

    I am a Children's Pastor in a church in Florida. May I have your permission to give a copy of this post to the families in our church?
    If so, please send me your name so that I can give you proper attribution. Also, some may wish to contact you. If you would like the correspondence, please send your email address along with any instructions you may wish.

    Once again, thank you for your insightful words.

    Michael Perea
    Children's Pastor
    River of Life Church
    Lutz, FL