Christ's Love, Jesus and His Mother

Jesus, His Mother, and a Party!

A few months ago, I was listening to a Christian radio station when one of the DJ’s asked a hypothetical question. If Jesus were on this earth today, living in our culture, would he be on social media?

I wasn’t sure about that one, but one of the other DJ’s said yes! Jesus absolutely would use social media as a way to connect with people. You may argue that  Facebook, Google+ Instagram, etc are not the best places to really connect with folks, and I would agree. It disturbs me when people say they are closer to their Facebook friends than they are their “real” friends. Nevertheless I have found it does have some real value. Through social media I have reconnected with friends I no longer see for one reason or another and have been able to find out what is going on in their lives. Being able to pray with them in their times of need has been wonderful.

So would Jesus participate in social media? I’m not sure, but what the DJ said certainly rings true. Jesus loved being around people and loved connecting with them in all manner of ways. He went to the temple to teach people, ministered to individuals, at least once invited himself to dinner, and went to parties

Parties in Jesus day were different than ours. Hospitality was exceedingly important to them. Did you know that in Jesus’ time the party after a wedding could last a week? A week! No honeymoon for the bride and groom, but rather, they entertained for several days after the ceremony.

In John 2 Jesus, His disciples and His mother have received invitations to a wedding in Cana. And now the celebration is on. The host is prepared with plenty of food and wine. Or at least he was supposed to be. At some point during the days of the celebration, the wine runs out. This was a huge problem. It was not like running out of pretzels or drinks nowadays, and oh, well, will someone run up to the 7-11 and buy some more? Oh, no, this was a reflection on the host’s reputation. His lack of hospitality would be a gigantic faux pas. So Jesus’ mother Mary goes to her son and tells Him about the situation.

003-jesus-wedding

Why would Mary do this? Why would she bother the Lord with such a problem?

Perhaps she thinks that her son will listen to his mom and come up with a solution. But Jesus does not do as she had hoped or maybe expected. (If you study His life much at all, you will see Jesus often did the unexpected.)

Instead of saying something like “Sure mom, I’ll be glad to help,” He tells her “Woman, what have I to with thee? My time is not yet come.”  (KJV)

Take a deep breath, everyone. If you have never read this story, you may wonder why He was talking to Mary like that. His mother! I know His words have raised a lot of questions. So let’s try to answer one or two at least.

As you may know, “woman” was a term of endearment and respect. Okay, that’s better, isn’t it? BUT look at his next words. “What have I to do with thee?”  What? He really said that to her?

Not long ago, I was very direct with God and made this statement to Him: “I know you were being respectful when you called Mary ‘woman’, but I still think what you said afterwards…well, it seems rude.”  The Lord did not keep silent, and these are the words I heard him speak to my heart: “Now Eileen, don’t you think I knew how to talk to my mama?”

Well, that shut me up.

And I love it when He speaks in my vernacular. Both my children call me “mama,” and so for me the term is particularly endearing.

But the Lord had another assurance for me. “Look at how she reacted. She knew what I was saying. She was not offended.”

Oh.

I am totally looking at this Scripture in a new light now. Perhaps Mary is a little more spiritual than I because she doesn’t drop her jaw, make a sigh of disgust or demand that He talk to her with more respect, but simply turns to the servants and bids them do as her Son wishes. Is she recognizing His authority here? Is He somehow getting it across to her that He wishes her to relate to Him as Lord in addition to the mother-son relationship? Some scholars have said this is the case. His words probably meant far more than the English can convey. But apparently she understood his intent, and had confidence that He would let the servants know what to do.

And this passage ends in the first recorded miracle of Christ when He turns the water into wine. (By the way, it was good wine too according to the words of the host.)

There is always more that can be said about a particular passage of Scripture, and this one is no exception. So what would I like you to take away from this? First of all, Jesus acted in a loving way to His mother; He knew how to talk to her. Secondly, you and I are not the same as Mary, and He knows that. He knows how to treat each of us and how to speak to us as individuals.

Let me add one huge caution here. If you are not reading your Bible and searching for God’s instruction in His Word, it may be very difficult to hear His voice. Sometimes God may speak to us in a thought, an idea, or through the voice of a friend. But first search for His face in Scripture and through prayer. For that is where we find Him.

Standard
Uncategorized

Miracles Come to the Old and Young

Do you ever have trouble believing a promise of God or believing He will see you through a particular situation? Perhaps your circumstances seem impossible to bear right now, maybe impossible for even God to handle. Just because it’s the “most wonderful time of the year” does not mean the problems disappear. On the contrary, for many the holidays just intensify the hurts, despair, and those impossible circumstances. The good news is God delights in doing the impossible.

I would like to explore the lives of three people to demonstrate this truth. Note: You will find links to Biblegateway by moving your mouse under each Bible reference.

Zechariah and Elizabeth, an older couple who suffer from infertility, are promised a son. As I have said in a previous article, among the Hebrews of Biblical times having a child, especially a son, was HUGE to them. Even today, a childless couple may suffer a certain degree of shame and often a lack of understanding from others. For example: “When are you going to have kids?” “Don’t you want children?” “If you really want kids, you can take mine for a while.” or “Why don’t you adopt?” Okay, that may be a topic for another day. (In the meantime you might want to read this link: http://www.infertilitysurvivalguide.com/issues/chapter14.htm)

Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story begins in Luke 1. This is a godly couple who had been unable to have children. Let me repeat, they are a GODLY couple. Zechariah is a priest whose division is serving in the temple at this time. It is their turn to perform the tasks required according to Jewish law, and “it happened he was chosen by lot to burn incense”. Just the fact that his division or clan is on duty was not a common occurrence. And for him to be chosen as the individual to burn incense did not happen every time they served. Notice people are praying outside as he minister, and an angel appears to Zechariah promising the priest a son. Zechariah questions the angel, not understanding how this could be. That seems to be understandable as he and his wife are well-advanced in years. Apparently the angel has a real problem with Zechariah’s attitude however. He introduces himself as Gabriel who “stands in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19, NIV). He tells the priest “you will be silent and unable to speak until the day this happens because you did not believe my words…” (Luke 1:20, NIV). Notice this messenger from God had name picked out as well! Seems Zechariah should have taken the angel at his word. But still the “not speaking” thing seems a tad harsh. Perhaps.

Now let’s jump ahead a few verses to another individual whose life is about to be upended. She is betrothed to a man named Joseph, and as I’m sure you realize this is Mary, the mother of Jesus. She also receives an angelic visit from Gabriel who tells her she has found favor with God and will bear a child and name him Jesus.

Take a moment now and notice the similarity between the two situations–Zechariah’s and Mary’s. First of all, an angelic visitor comes to both of them, and secondly, they both receive the promise of a baby when that seems impossible. Thirdly, both receive a name to give the child.

So how does Mary react? Is she perfectly fine with this? Nope. She is troubled by the angel’s greeting. And then *grimace* she questions Gabriel, asking how in the world she can have a child since she has not been intimate with a man. Whoa, wait a minute. She questions the angel? What is Gabriel about to do to her? Take away her speech too? If you’re reading along you see that Gabriel does not even reprimand her, AND he explains how this will happen. He then goes a step further, offering her encouragement as he relates the news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. He gives Mary an example of a miracle proving “nothing shall be impossible with God.”

So why the different treatment for these two individuals? Did the angel just not like Zechariah? I doubt it. Did Gabriel feel sorry for the young Mary, and was he just in a bad mood when he visited poor Zechariah? I don’t think that was it either. Was there some difference in the faith they displayed? Ah, maybe now we’ve got something. After all, that is the reason angel gives for Zechariah’s loss of speech.

So now let’s look at the differences in their stories. There are at least two that should be obvious. First of all, Mary was a woman, probably a very young woman barely of the age to have children. She was also, as she said, a virgin. Had a virgin ever been pregnant in all of Biblical history? While this had been predicted by the prophets, no, it had never happened. What about Zechariah’s circumstances? Was he in a better position to have children? Well, he was married. Did married couples have children? Uh, yeah. Did OLD married couples who were past the age of child-bearing ever have kids? Hmm. Might have to think about that one.

What about Abraham and Sarah as just as one example? (See Genesis 17 and 21) Both were well on in age, but they were promised a son, and while it was some time later, God delivered on His promise. Now think about this: did Zechariah know this Scripture? Well, let’s hope so. He had been a priest for many years and part of his education was to learn the books of the Hebrew Bible. He also knew about the doubts of both Abraham and Sarah and how the Lord proved faithful.

Maybe this explains the difference in the angelic response to their questions. But I certainly don’t have all the answers. Perhaps you can come up with some other reasons, and if so I would love to hear your thoughts.

One more thing: I love the part where Gabriel tells Mary she is “highly favored”. Is there any way that you and I can apply those words to us? Are you and I “favored” of God? To find an answer to that, I encourage you to read: Colossians 1 and 2 and Ephesians 1. Among the words and phrases used to describe Christ-followers are: reconciled to God; without blemish; having fullness in Christ; forgiven; triumphant; holy; dearly beloved; redeemed, and much more. In the Holman Christian Standard Version of Ephesians 1:5 you also find that He adopted us “according to His favor” and in verse 6 He “favored” us with His grace.

Standard