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Archive for the ‘Mary mother of Jesus’ Category

It seems appropriate to reflect on Mary the mother of Jesus on Mother’s Day and on her life. She is a great example of living for God for all of us not only for mothers, but I think mothers can especially relate to some things we know about Mary.

Think for a moment on how it all started for Mary. An angel appeared to her when she was a young virgin to tell her she was chosen by God to have the baby Jesus who would be the Savior of the world. She was frightened at first, but after  being reassured by the Angel Gabriel of God’s favor for her, she said yes to God’s plan even though it meant difficulties for her. She trusted God to protect her and take care of the possible risks, such as the fact  that was a woman who was engaged but not yet married to be found pregnant could have meant being stoned to death.

When Jesus was born, she gave birth in a stable for the animals. She went through the pains of child birth with animals standing around. She had to place her newborn baby in a manger which was a feeding trough for animals. It was a very humble way for her baby the Savior of the world to be born. However, some shepherds came to visit to tell her and Joseph about the angelica choir that announced the birth of Jesus to them.

Then when Jesus was 8 days old, Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the temple to present Him to God. An old man Simeon who was a prophet took the baby Jesus in his arms and thanked God for letting him see Jesus. He then spoke to Mary and Joseph about how Jesus was the promised one from God. He said something to Mary that no mother would want to hear. He told her, “and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” On a joyous day of presenting her baby to God, Simeon spoke of her suffering as Jesus suffered.

Then she had to flee with Joseph and baby Jesus to Egypt because King Herod wanted to kill baby Jesus. She experienced life on the run as a refugee with a baby in her arms. About 33 years later, she was there when Jesus died on the cross watching His torturous death unable to comfort Him.

Mary said yes to God’s plan and agreed to be the mother of Jesus. She did not know everything that was in front of her in life, but she accepted the call of God to be Jesus’ mother and to love Him and care for Him. She loved Him even though it meant risk to herself just like some mothers do when they become mothers. She experienced the joys of seeing the wonderful things Jesus did just as many mothers rejoice in the accomplishments of their children. She was there when He died on the cross watching Him suffer just as some mothers who have the terrible misfortune if watching their children die. Through all of these things she was His mother which means she loved Jesus in a way that no one else ever will. She is a great example for all of us, but on this Mother’s Day my hope is that any mother who reads this is encouraged by Mary’s example.

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One of the mysteries in the bible for me is what happened when Jesus came to visit His mother Mary. She is not listed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as being present during his visits after His resurrection. Surely He must have appeared to Mary His mother. She was there when He was crucified. She was there when He was buried. She had been with Him throughout His life as we see various times after His birth that she was with Him such as at the wedding in Cana. I wonder what happened when He came to her.

Think about her life for a moment. She was a young virgin when an angel appeared to her and said, “Hail Highly Favored One…..” and told her she had been chosen by God to give birth to the Savior of the world. She said yes to God’s plan. She gave birth to Him in a stable of animals and then had to flee to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill the baby Jesus. She raised Him and cared for Him like no one else ever will. She saw His miracles and was even there for His first public miracle of turning water into wine. In fact she kind of instigated it. Then she is there during His passion and watches Him die on the cross before her eyes. She helped to prepare His body for burial. So why is there no mention of Mary the mother of Jesus during His visits after the resurrection.

While I would not make a claim to know for sure or teach this as a doctrine, it is my thought that Jesus’ first visit with His mother Mary was so highly personal and emotional for Mary that the Holy Spirit did not have it recorded. I have often heard it expressed that God is a gentleman meaning He is polite and considerate. While God does record the failings of Peter and the other disciples, there are certain things left unwritten such as the exact nature of Mary Magdaline’s life before Jesus healed her of demon possession. I believe that the moment Jesus first came to see His mother after His resurrection was so personal and emotional for her and out of respect for that moment it was kept private.

Let’s imagine how she must have felt though. She knew better than anyone why He had come into the world. She knew it from the start when the angel Gabriel told her. She saw Him die on the cross and heard Him give her care over to John. She saw Him buried and then she sees Him after His resurrection. She must have been so full of joy that she could not contain her emotions. Tears of joy that must have flowed from her eyes. Surely she embraced Him with a wonderful motherly hug and didn’t want to let go.

There is something in the bible that convinces me that Jesus must have visited Mary after His resurrection. Mary was with the disciples in the upper room when the promise of the Father came upon them. When the Holy Spirit was sent to those who were waiting, Mary was there with them.  In the bible she may fade from the scene as the focus of the story shifts to what the apostles did as they started the church, but she was there when the Holy Spirit came signaling that she still has a role. She is one person I look forward to meeting one day when Jesus calls me home. I would love to hear the story from her 🙂

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Several years ago I was meeting with a woman who was pregnant and had come to America as a refugee. She was 8 months pregnant and needed help with some papers. I helped her with the papers for her family while her husband took care of their children. While we were working on the papers, a thunderstorm rolled into Lincoln and the thunder was very loud. She began to shake and cry because the sound of the thunder brought back memories of a war she survived. My thought was “It can’t be good that a pregnant woman’s hands are shaking while she cries.” The normal response to have when we see a pregnant woman is to want to offer any help we can give. Especially when she is close to her due date. That is why the short phrase in Luke 2:7, “because there was no room for them in the inn” catches my attention. That is the reason given for why Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger which was a feeding trough for animals.

I wonder what the innkeeper was thinking about when he told them they could go to the stable. What could the guests have been thinking? Why didn’t any of them offer their room to a pregnant woman about to give birth? Were they all indifferent or just selfish or both?

I wonder if the reason this part of the first Christmas was planned by God is to tell me something. No one made room for Jesus to be born other than a messy stable. I think this part of the first Christmas is there to make me wonder if I have made room for Jesus. Have I sacrificed and given my place for Him? Do I only make room for Jesus when there is a mess in my life and I want bailed out?

As I think about there being no room for Jesus in the inn, it motivates me to give Jesus the best part of my life and not just my mess when I need help. It makes me want to pray when things are going well and offer Him thanks. It also makes me want to serve Jesus with my talents to show His loves to others.

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When I began comparing the events involved with the birth of Jesus, I did not think about one of the important aspects. I must admit that I have never been present at the birth of a baby, so perhaps that is why I did not think about the environment Mary was in while she gave birth to Jesus. Last Sunday while I was teaching my Sunday morning Bible class about the realities of the events involved in Jesus’ birth, an older woman who helps in the class brought up the conditions. We listen as she talked about how women can go to a hospital and have doctors and nurses around and how the environment is clean and sterile. Pat is a mother and grandmother, so she knows about giving birth which gave her full authority in our eyes on this subject.

She shared about how much of a miracle it was that Mary and Jesus did not have infections considering the fact that Jesus was born in a stable where the animals lived. The environment was not sterile. There were no doctors or nurses around. Instead there were cows, goats, sheep etc. There were no modern medical instruments to help with the birth. There was no Neo-Natal ward for babies. There was a manger used to feed animals. There would have been straw, animal hair, and other things not sterile. It was not a wonderful place to have a baby.

Jesus came at a time when life was very hard and born in a place with no comforts. Mary endured harsh conditions to give birth to Jesus. When we sing Silent Night, I think we may get a false romanticized notion of the Nativity Scene being peaceful and wonderful. I have been around farm animals and have noticed something. They smell, make noise, and attract flies. It makes me appreciate all the more the sacrifice Jesus made to leave His throne in heaven and come to earth and the hardship Mary endured to say yes to God’s plan even though it meant giving birth in a stable. Then it makes me question myself and whether I am willing to make sacrifices for God in my life.

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I live in Lincoln Nebraska which is about 50 some miles from Omaha or more depending where I want to go in Omaha and where I am in Lincoln. I can drive from my home in South Lincoln to the Omaha airport which is about a 60 mile drive in about one hour. If there is no construction zones along the way and traffic is flowing smoothly, the drive is quick and easy. It helps to have an Interstate to drive on, a van with music to listen to on the way, and air-conditioning for warm or hot days. Many years ago I had the task of going to Kansas City and driving a Mercedes Benz back for a friend. I even got paid for it. The ride was so smooth that when I looked at the speedometer and saw I was going 90 miles an hour I was surprised. Of course I slowed down.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but Mary and Joseph traveled there from Nazareth, so they would have had about a 70 mile trip. There was no Interstate for them to use. No cars with music playing. One would think that the Mother of Jesus would be able to travel in style like celebrities who travel in luxury limousines. That was not the case for Mary. She was 9 months pregnant and her due date was coming. In her condition she had to ride on a donkey or horse or perhaps in the back or a crude wagon or cart. The trip would not have taken 1 hour in an air-conditioned vehicle. It was a 3 or 4 day journey or more. A rough journey on a donkey or in a simple cart. It was another hardship for Mary in her experience as the Mother of Jesus. Mary said yes to the plan of God even though it meant discomfort and hardship for her.

It makes me think about my own life and if I am willing to sacrifice my own comfort and time for God. It may be as simple as getting up a little earlier to pray. It might be to go on a mission trip which means a few weeks of sacrifice on my part. Perhaps it is to show Christ’s love to those who others overlook. It might be to give of my time or money and sacrifice in other areas of my life to be able to do so.

When Mary agreed with God’s plan to be the Mother of Jesus, she signed on for a life of sacrifice and at times hardship. She stayed faithful over those years even to the point of being one of the few people to stand at the cross of Jesus. This makes me wonder if I am fully committed to following God even if it means facing the worst scenarios in life, but again I come back to the little things. Am I willing to wake up a bit earlier to pray? Am I willing to sacrifice a fast food lunch and brown bag my lunch, so I can give to a ministry that shows the love of Jesus? The reason I write about the little things is because of something Jesus said. He taught about how those who are faithful with a few things will be given more; more opportunities to serve, more blessings from God, and more understanding about God.

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I was reflecting today on the advice Mary gave to the servants at the Wedding in Cana. Jesus was there with His disciples and a problem arose. They ran out of wine. Mary informed Jesus of the problem and He said “woman why do you involve me, my time has not yet come”. Mary spoke to the servants and instructed them to “Do whatever He tells you”. Jesus told them to fill the water jars with water. They could hold gallons of water. He told them to take some out and take it to the Master of the Ceremony who was surprised when He drank it because it was better than what was served first. In that culture they served the best first and brought out the cheap stuff afterward when no one would notice. The wine Jesus made was better than their best.

Jesus was once asked what works God requires. He said “The work of God is to believe in the One He sent”. In other words the work of God s to believe in and trust Jesus. When the disciples saw what happened with the water turned into wine, they put their faith in Him.They believed in the One God sent.

Wonderful things can happen when we “do whatever He tells us”. He can do far better than our best. No matter what our situation is, we can trust Him to do better for us than what our best effort can bring about for us. We may need to take a step of faith or we may need to take a step of obedience such as the servants did by filling the jars with water. The step of faith might be to give our problem to Him in prayer. It might be to forgive a person. It might be to apply for that job even though we think we can’t get it. Taking that step of faith is what puts our faith into action. With all of the problems we face today. Mary’s advice seems more relevant than ever- “Do whatever He tells you”

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I wonder how Joseph must have felt when Mary came to him with the news that she was pregnant and that the baby was of the Holy Spirit and would be the Son of God. Was he angry with her? Did he think she had been traumatized and couldn’t tell him the truth? Did he wrestle with his feelings and what to do?We can see in the bible that Joseph was a righteous man and did not want to publicly disgrace Mary. He had in mind to divorce her quietly. Engagement back in those days was much stronger than it is today. Nowadays if a young couple breaks up while engaged, it can be done as simply as telling the other person we have changed our mind. There of course is emotional turmoil and may be some financial things to take care of such as what to do about the ring, but back then breaking off an engagement meant divorcing.

Joseph planned to do so quietly so that Mary would not be disgraced. This shows me the character of Joseph because if he had shamed her publicly, she would have also been stoned to death. The fact that he planned to quietly divorce her shows that he did not believe her incredible story. After all it has only happened once in all of the history of mankind that a virgin had a baby from God.

Imagine being Joseph and Mary comes to you and says “I am pregnant, but I am still a virgin. An angel told me the Holy Spirit would cause me to become pregnant with the Son of God and that we should name Him Jesus”. That is a lot to take in for a man who is a simple carpenter by trade. Joseph was not a religious leader. He was not high up in Jewish Society at the time. Why would God want Joseph to be the earthly step-father of Jesus?

The fact that Joseph did not want to publicly disgrace Mary shows his character. It shows us that God knew Joseph and Joseph’s character. God’s plan was at work and God chose Mary for a reason and God chose Joseph for a reason. God knew that Joseph would not want to bring harm to Mary or her baby. It makes me wonder what God would choose us to do based on our character.

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