From Mother to Disciple

For just a moment, put yourself in Mary's shoes. Imagine that you have given birth to a son, and then raised him to be a fine young man. As his mother, you have the usual concerns for his well-being, the desire to see him happy, and perhaps the hope of eventually becoming the grandmother to his children. But you never anticipate that one day your role will change, and you will become a follower and disciple of your own son . . . and even bow and worship him, the Almighty God!

So how did this transformation of Mary and Jesus' relationship come about?

Mary, a godly young virgin, graciously received the angel Gabriel's announcement that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her, and she would conceive a son, who would be called the "Son of the Most High" and "the Son of God" (Luke 1:32,35). Gabriel told her that God would give her son "'the throne of his father David, and . . . his kingdom [would] never end'" (Luke 1:32-33).*

When she visited her relative Elizabeth, Elizabeth greeted her as "the mother of my Lord" (1:43). Mary rejoiced and glorified God for choosing her to bear this special son. But did Mary clearly understand who her son would be? Probably not, for in the history of human civilization, nothing like this had ever happened before.

When Mary gave birth to Jesus, a great company of the heavenly host of angels appeared to shepherds in the countryside and announced Jesus' birth. The shepherds traveled to Bethlehem to see Jesus, and they told Mary and Joseph about the glorious angelic visitation. Mary, no doubt, wondered about God's plan for her son, and she "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (2:19).

In contrast to the angels' joyful announcement, when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, Simeon told Mary that Jesus was "'destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel . . . . And a sword will pierce your own soul too'" (2:34-35). Could any mother hear such a prophecy and not feel a twinge of fear?

When Jesus was twelve He stayed behind at the Temple, while His parents, unaware of His absence, traveled on. When they could not find Jesus among their relatives, they returned to Jerusalem to look for Him. After three days, they finally found Him in the Temple courts, listening to the teachers and asking them questions. His mother said, "'Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you'" (Luke 2:48).

Jesus responded, "'Why were you searching for me? . . . Didn't you know that I had to be in my Father's house?'" (v. ). But Mary and Joseph did not understand what He was saying to them.

On one occasion after Jesus began His ministry, such a large crowd gathered that He and His disciples were not even able to eat. "When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind'" (Mark 3:21). 

As the religious opposition to Jesus' ministry increased, Mary would naturally have been concerned for her son's safety.

But she could not stop Him from fulfilling His God-given role. When she heard the awful news of her son's arrest, we can only imagine how she felt. Where were the angels who had appeared to the shepherds after His birth? What about Gabriel's message that God would give her son the throne of His father David and His kingdom would never end?

Later, Mary stood at the foot of His cross, grieving and suffering the heart-shattering pain that no mother would ever want to endure. After all, Jesus was her precious, first-born son. She was His mother, but not yet His disciple, for she still did not fully understand who He was.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to the disciples and explained to them that His death, burial, and resurrection had been necessary to fulfill the Scriptures and bring salvation to all who would accept Him. Mary would also have heard about this, for Jesus had entrusted her into the apostle John's care before He died.

We do not know if Mary had a special audience with Jesus before He ascended to heaven. Acts 1:14 contains the next mention of her. She is among the disciples in an upstairs room, praying constantly in anticipation of the Holy Spirit's outpouring.

So, when did Mary become a follower of her son?

When she realized that He had died on the cross to forgive her sins, and she accepted Him as her Savior and Lord. We also must come to the same realization in order to become His disciples.

© by Howard W. and Nancy A. Stevens

* All Scripture verses are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.