My oldest son turns 30 this month and I don’t know if that’s what got me thinking about Mary and her role as a mother. I had honestly never considered her life after Jesus ascended. I was recently reading in Acts 1 and as I read verse 14, it struck me that here’s Mary, mother of Jesus, present and accounted for along with the 120 other believers. You might think she would be ready for a break. I mean the woman has been a solid, selfless servant for her entire life up to this point. But what do we see in this often overlooked passage in Acts 1?
“They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.” Acts 1:14-15
Let’s look a little deeper and ask “what kind of woman was Mary?” We often elevate her to “on a pedestal” status, perhaps because we see her described as highly favored, the chosen one to be the virgin mother of the Messiah. As a young woman, this was Mary’s song of praise: “My soul praises the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; because he has looked with favor on the humble condition of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and his name is holy.”
We see her often quietly treasuring in her heart the glimpses of her son’s humanity yet also his holiness as the Son of God. (Luke 2:19, 52).
We often read stories in the Bible and truly believe and treasure them. But sometimes we can forget to grasp the perspective of the character who is actually living the story. I’ve pondered Mary’s story before and love to pull out snippets of her real life as a mother in the few glimpses we see, such as when she scolded Jesus when he went missing in Jerusalem for three days (and was found teaching in the synagogue); or when she prodded her son to help out family friends at the wedding in Cana as she urged him to do something to replenish their wine. There is a span of about 18 years of Jesus’ life, between the ages of 12 and 30, where we can imagine the everyday life of Mary and Joseph, raising their family in the Jewish tradition.
Something else we often overlook is the fact that Mary was not only the mother of Jesus, but also the mother of James and Jude, each of whom has authored a book in the New Testament. We can assume that the entire family, including the brothers of Jesus, were present at these instances mentioned earlier. Not only that, but we see in scripture that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him as the Messiah until after the resurrection. (John 7:3-5; Mark 3:20-21) Can you imagine the family dynamics Mary had to navigate among the brothers? As a mom of three sons, I can only imagine the back and forth between them as they were growing up!
What can we learn as we look closer at the life of Mary? How does reading through the lens of the scope of her life inform how we live as women in the church today?
Mary was still ALL IN as the church began! She obviously didn’t have the attitude of “Okay I’ve done my part. I raised Jesus, I helped with his ministry and watched him die, be raised from the dead and ascend into heaven. I need a break from it all.” Instead, we see her right there at the start of God establishing His church. Not only that, but her other two sons, James and Jude, recorded God’s inspired Word to inform us as believers in the church today. She was present when prayer was happening, when the Holy Spirit fell, when decisions about new leadership were being made and the direction for the church was being established. Let’s be women who follow Mary’s example and be ALL IN!