Saturday, January 9, 2021

210110 What did Mary Know?

 From the time of Jesus’ birth until he was 12 years old nothing indicates to us that he was anything other than an obedient son. At the age of 12 he went along with Joseph and Mary to Jerusalem for Passover. He had been so trustworthy, up until then, that Mary and Joseph could leave Jerusalem expecting him to be in the group that was traveling together. When they discovered he was not with the group they returned to Jerusalem only to find him asking questions and giving answers to the teachers in the temple. Luke tells us, “And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:48-51.

During the preceding 12 years Mary and Joseph did not fully understand who they were dealing with. If they had, he said, they would have known he would have been in his Father’s house.

Jesus continued to live in the family home in Nazareth for another 18 years. At the end of that time he began his ministry.  What did Mary know? She knew what had happened and, she knew that he was an obedient son. She knew what Gabriel had told her about her son. He would be named Jesus. He would be great and would be called the Son of the Most High. He would receive the throne of his father, David. And even more amazing, of his kingdom there would never be in end.

Mary visited with Elizabeth, who had conceived the child that would become John the Baptist. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, told Mary that the baby in her womb was her Lord.

I am not sure we can say that Mary understood a lot of what was happening. We do know that she testified that she treasured these things in her heart.

After Jesus began his ministry his family was invited to a wedding at the little town of Cana in Galilee. While they were there a problem occurred. The wine ran out! I assume that Mary felt some kind of responsibility for the couple getting married and wanted to be sure they were well cared for. What did Mary know? When we look at what happened next begin to answer that question. John recorded the event for us. John 2:1-5 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

What did Mary know? She knew that her son could solve any supply problem they might have. He did not disappoint her. He had the servants fill six large stone water jars, over 100 gallons, and when they drew out what the jars contained it was the best wine. I do not know from the text whether Mary expected water to be turned to wine or did she just simply believe her son could solve the problem, whatever it was? We are not told the answer to that question but we can see from the story that Mary had faith in the ability of her son.

These jars were the ones from which servants would draw water that was then poured over the hands of those who came to eat. This wasn’t simply about washing their hands before dinner; this was a religious ceremony. And what does Jesus do? He replaces the ceremonial water with wine. Symbolically, he replaces the old religion of rituals with the new wine of a joyful relationship.

You might be confused by what Jesus said when speaking to his mother (v. 4). What does ‘My time has not yet come’ mean? In one sense we know the answer, because we know what the climax of the Gospel is: the death and resurrection of Jesus. Here, Jesus was pointing out that what he came to do could be put into the category of ‘Now, but not yet’. The miracle of the abundant wine was fulfilling prophecies made to describe the wonders of God’s kingdom, but it was only a partial fulfilment. The new wine eventually ran out. But that real, actual, substantial kingdom where Jesus will perfectly reign was still to come.

After the wedding Jesus and his disciples, along with his mother and his brothers, went to Capernaum. Occasionally, the gospel writers tell us that Mary and his brothers were present while he was teaching. However, that did not mean they believed in him as the Messiah or a prophet.

Actually when Jesus began his ministry his family tried to stop him. Mark told the story. Mark 3:21, And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

That event led to Jesus redefining family in a way that is hard for us to accept. As we look further in Mark’s account (vv31-35) we find: And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mary had known all of his life that Jesus was different. As his public ministry continued he openly asserted that his “family” were those who do the will of God. In order for him to remain obedient to God’s plan for his life he would have to give up customary relationships.  Jesus certainly loved his mother. He had been subject to her for most of 30 years. After his arrest he will show how much he loved her.

He was different! That is a major understatement! At the same time he lived such a “normal” human life that the people who knew him best, the neighbors, those who he had worked alongside of for 30 years saw him as the carpenter. He had patched up their houses and likely made furniture and pretty much anything made of wood. All the while Mary, his mother, treasured all of these events in her heart. 

His brothers had major difficulty with all that they saw what he did and what he taught. They even challenged him to go expose himself to danger by going to Jerusalem, “If you do these things, show yourself to the world.”

John remembered that event and it is recorded in John 7:1-5 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him.

It must have been very painful to Mary. She would have many memories to reflect on. One thing she knew -- there would be pain in her life. Simeon was waiting at the Temple when Jesus was presented to the Lord.

Luke 2:34,35, And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”                                                              

Mary had a good many events to treasure and store in her heart. The fulfilled promises from God through Gabriel would begin to make clear what she had been told. She, along with others, would stand at a distance to see him nailed to the cross. Simeon had told her, “And a sword will pierce through your own soul also”. Now 30 years later outside the city where he was presented to the Lord he was crucified. As his human life was coming to an end the crowds fell away. We do not know when Mary arrived in Jerusalem. Was she in the crowds who proclaimed him   All four gospels list women who were looking on as he was being crucified. We are not told that they watched as he was so cruelly beaten. She may have been present when Jesus came out of Pilate’s judgement hall. She may have watched as the crowed demanded that Pilate crucify Jesus while releasing a notorious prisoner, a man called Barabbas.

Jesus was weakened by the scourging to the point the Romans made one of the onlookers, Simon of Cyrene, take the cross to the place of execution.

The followers of Jesus feared for their lives. At first they stood at a distance. Then they moved closer as time passed. Finally John the disciple and at least three of the women, all named Mary, stood by the cross.

For those who have not gotten over Jesus’ rejection of his mother John recorded the event. Seeing his mother and John, the disciple whom he loved, standing nearby he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” Mary saw all of these things as they unfolded.

There is no mention of any of the other disciples. Peter intended to be there but had denied he knew Jesus three times before the trial. I believe he was too ashamed to be present. The next time we see Peter he was hiding in an upper room while some women went to the tomb on the third day after he was crucified. What Mary saw was the unfolding of the gospel. We are dependent on the written truth.

Paul wrote out the gospel. In his letter to the Romans he presented the gospel.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” The gospel revealed the righteousness of God. And not our righteousness. In fact our righteousness is like dirty clothes at a party. In his 2nd letter to the Corinthians chapter 5 verses 20 and 21 Paul wrote: “we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Our righteousness will not meet our needs. The baby Jesus, that his mother spent 33 years watching, and learning from, God’s righteousness was revealed to Mary and though out history. Again we go to Paul for words of hope and salvation. 1 Corinthians 15:1-7 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Have you put your faith in him so that his righteousness could be revealed in you? I pray that you will be sure you have come to know him. Mary was his human mother and it was necessary for her to understand that her son was, and is, her only hope of salvation. We do not have any good things to do in order to be saved – Neither did she! My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2016. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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