In this devotional we continue looking at Mary’s faith throughout Jesus’s public ministry. To read about her faith from the time of hearing that she would be Jesus’s mother throughout Jesus’s time growing up, click here.
After the story of Jesus at the temple as a boy, the next place we find Mary is at the wedding where Jesus turned water into wine.
“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’
‘Woman, why do you involve me? Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’
His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing,each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.” – John 2:1-12
Mary’s faith and boldness sticks out in this story. Even though Jesus seems to discourage her initially stating that His “hour has not yet come” she continues, telling the servants “Do whatever he tells you.”
Jesus then performs the miracle of turning the water into wine, which “was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”
There are a variety of interpretations for what Jesus meant by saying “My hour has not yet come.” It may refer to the hour of Christ’s death, the hour in which He reveals Himself as Messiah, the hour of His glorification, or something else. I am not confident in my study on it enough to put forth an opinion on the exact meaning and so I will leave it to the reader to investigate it further.
What is clear is that Mary believes that Jesus can intervene in the situation and expects Him to do so. God uses her faith to play a role in the beginning of Jesus’s public ministry.
The next time we see Mary, Jesus’s teaching has gathered a crowd. Mary and a few of Jesus’s siblings are unable to get to Jesus because of the crowd, so they send a messenger in to tell Jesus that they are standing outside wanting to speak with Him. This story appears in Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-34, and Luke 8:19-21. All of them follow the same lines with only some variation on the exact wording. When Jesus is told about His family waiting outside He responds by saying,
“Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked.
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” – Mark 3:34-35
None of the accounts give us anymore details on what happened after this statement. We don’t know if Jesus then made His way out to see them, or they made their way in, or they just continued to wait. Nor do we know how Jesus’s family reacted to this statement.
The point of the story is not to put Mary and Jesus’s siblings down or to focus on them, but to reveal and illustrate the strength of the spiritual family. Jesus is told that His family is waiting outside and most around Him would naturally assume that He would make space for them in some way. However, His response is to take that opportunity to begin illustrating just how incredible our adoption into God’s family is. From later scriptures we learn that we are “co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17) and “adopted to sonship” (Ephesians 1:5). Jesus redirects the focus from earthly relationships to spiritual.
There is a somewhat related, albeit different statement made a little later as Jesus is teaching.
“As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’
He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” – Luke 11:27-28
Here again Jesus redirects the focus from earthly relationships and positions of honor to heavenly and spiritual relationships. Luke 1 clearly portrays that Mary is blessed. In the same manner as the event above, this statement is not meant to put Mary down, but to elevate others, to show the manner in which those who in this case are blessed and in the above are part of God’s family.
Jesus shows that relationship with Himself is not limited by earthly familial relationship. He raises all who follow Him to the same level. Just as His disciples had the same access and relationship with Jesus as His earthly family, so too through Christ we have the same access to the Father through Jesus.
Likewise, while only one person was chosen to be His earthly mother, what truly counts is hearing the word of God and obeying it. Mary’s attitude when told by the angel that she would be the mother of Jesus was to say “May your word to me be fulfilled.” – Luke 1:38
In essence, this is hearing the word of God and obeying it. It is not the rarity of the action or the impact in terms of how many people see it or hear of it, but the obedience itself that is important. In the same way God has different roles for all of us in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12,13) that may outwardly appear to carry differing levels of honor and blessing, when in reality that is not the case.
We should not assume the well-known pastor of a mega-church is any more blessed in the eyes of God than the janitor faithfully carrying on his work. Jesus teaches similar lessons to this over and over throughout His ministry.
The second to last scene that we see Mary present in is the crucifixion.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” – John 19:25-27
We don’t know what Mary was thinking as she watched her son be tortured to death. Of all the trials and challenges her faith had to deal with, this must have been the most difficult.
Scripture is clear that the disciples did not understand until later that Jesus would die and rise again (Mark 9:32, Luke 18:34, John 20:9). Even when He told them this would happen, its meaning was hidden from them until afterwards.
Mary was most likely in the same situation. She had known Jesus the longest of anyone, she had seen angels and kings, witnessed signs, wonders, and miracles, heard Him preach and teach like no one ever had, and now He was fading away in front of her eyes. On top of that He was giving over the responsibility of taking care of her to one of His disciples.
I don’t know what she was thinking or going through as Jesus died and was buried or during the days He was in the tomb. Confusion, doubt, anger, sorrow? Was she able to hang on to the promises of God even though the son she had miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit was dead? Was she able to trust that somehow, someway God wasn’t finished?
We can only make guesses. Scripture doesn’t tell us. What we do know is that on what must have been the darkest of days for her, God was fully in control working out His perfect plan of salvation for her and the entire world. Mary, who was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus and had known God in human flesh, by Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection, was going to be ushered into a new and eternal relationship with God. The boy she raised that never sinned was paying for her sins on the cross. If she thought she was losing her son, in reality God was making the way for her to be in perfect relationship with Him forever. What could have looked to be the end of her hopes was in reality the beginning of the fulfillment of all her hopes.
At some point, Mary would have shared in the joy and wonder after Christ’s Resurrection. To have watched her son die and then see Him alive again must have been an indescribable joy. To witness the fulfillment of God’s promises in such a remarkable way must left her in awestruck worship.
This worship is what we see the last time Mary appears in scripture. It is after the disciples return from the ascension.
“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” – Acts 1:14
Mary is seen here as part of the early church worshiping along with her other children waiting for Jesus’s promised gift of the Holy Spirit. She has witnessed firsthand the salvation that God promised long ago. She has seen the faithfulness of God come through situations that might have seemed not only difficult, but impossible. Now she is part of the very first church.
We too have the promises of the Word of God to rely on. Just as we can see the story of Jesus’s earthly life in entirety and know that God works everything out for good and His glory, so too we can trust that God is doing the same now. Let our attitude be the same as that of Mary, trusting the Lord’s Word and His promises.
“May your word to me be fulfilled.” – Luke 1:38