Moms deserve celebration, whether from a family picnic in Denver’s Botanical Gardens or, at least, a 20-second voicemail on Mother’s Day. Most people echo Abraham Lincoln’s statement, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” For those with less than angelic mothers, God still set the standard to “honor your father and mother.”
Jesus must have ignored all of that, because his relationship with Mary always seemed detached, though not for any fault of hers, it seems.
His mother is hardly mentioned throughout his ministry, but when she is, Jesus appears as indifferent about her as he was about that wine shortage (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21). When a woman tells him, “Blessed is you mother,” he ignores and responds, “Blessed more are those that hear God and obey,” (Luke 11:27-28). At his trial and crucifixion, the gospels never even call her his mother, referring to her instead as “the mother of James” (his brother) or “the other Mary.”
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me,” (Matthew 10:37).
Of all of Jesus’ difficult messages, this is by far one of the most challenging. “Turn the other cheek” makes sense, and “love your enemies” we can value (even if reluctantly), but snubbing your flesh and blood mother—or even the adoptive one who gave you a second chance for joy—in favor of obeying God?
We love our moms more than life itself, which is why this message challenges us to our core. God willing, you will never need to choose between your mother and God, or your children and God; but if love for God does pull you away from the wonderful earthly family you have, where will your loyalty ultimately fall?
After searching for their missing son for three days, Mary finally found him sitting calmly in the Temple. Snatching him away, she scolded him for disappearing from their caravan.
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Even as a 12-year old, Jesus felt it common sense to disregard parents if God’s calling led you away from them. More importantly, he thought Mary should have realized that would be his choice, just like our mothers should realize it will be our choice, and we should realize it will be our mothers’ choices.
She carried you, birthed you, nursed you, wiped you, taught you, nurtured you, scolded you, and loved you. That earns her immeasurable love, honor, and respect, but not the position of God in your life. She sacrificed everything for you, but still could not match what God offered up.
This was Jesus’ seemingly impossible challenge: No matter what happens, kids will always love their mothers, and vice-versa. Love God even more.