This weekend is "Mother's Day" here in the United States. I wanted to share something I have learned from the life of Mary, Jesus' mother.
We don’t know a great deal about Mary from the scriptures. We do know that she had found favor with God when she was chosen to be Jesus’ mother (Luke 1:30); and we know that over 30 years later, she was among those waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit in the upper room (Acts 1:14). So she was certainly a special person, who as far as we know, started well and ended well. I’ve been blessed to consider the heart of this woman, and to imagine the kind of home she made for Jesus.
We know that Jesus, after being presented at the Temple as a baby, “continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40) throughout His childhood. It says 12 years later that He “kept increasing in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).
What was the environment that Mary and Joseph created where He grew? We catch a glimpse in the story of Jesus being accidentally left behind in Jerusalem.
They Emphasized God’s Word
As a parent myself, I know how much discipline and attention it takes to help children become familiar with the scriptures. Especially when they are young, it’s easy for their minds to wander and to be distracted. I’m sure it was the same for Jesus — childlike mind-wandering is not a sin! — and yet by the age of 12, we see how much insight He came to have into God’s Word, such that all who heard Him were “amazed at His understanding and His answers.”
I believe that Joseph and Mary must have put emphasis on the scriptures in their home. They must have taken time to ask questions, to share stories, and explain what the rabbi said at synagogue. They must have heeded the exhortation, “You shall teach these words diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)
Clearly, theirs was a home that discussed the Word of God.
Mary Treasured God’s Word
There’s a little phrase mentioned about Mary at the end of the forgotten-child incident that reveals something precious:
“And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51)
This phrase is very similar to another phrase used to describe Mary 12 years earlier, when the shepherds burst into the stable to tell the new parents what the heavenly host had declared to them: “...Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
So 12 years later, in the story of Jesus being left in Jerusalem, we get a glimpse not only of Jesus’ development, but also of Mary, and the kind of homemaker she was: she was a homemaker who consistently treasured God’s Word. And that treasuring is especially described as “pondering” - taking time to really think about the word she had heard.
It blessed me to consider that the environment in which Jesus “continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom,” was a home where His mother had a habit of treasuring God’s Word in her heart, and pondering it throughout the day. She did this as one who had “found favor with God” in the beginning, and she continued in that way for years.
How to Treasure God’s Word in My Heart
I likewise want to create an environment in my home where my children can grow in the knowledge and favor of God. And it spoke to me that I must do as Mary did: treasure God’s Word. Ponder it in my heart throughout the day.
We are told in the very first Psalm, “How blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalms 1:2-3)
This man is one who meditates on God’s Word, similar to how Mary pondered it. Not just “read.” Not just “take notes.” Reading is good, and taking notes can be helpful, but considering God’s Word is something more than that. I can imagine Mary had many responsibilities as a young mother with many children in the first century. Yet these responsibilities didn’t keep her from pondering God’s Word.
It’s a question of quality, not quantity. Not how much we read, but how deeply what we read — even if it’s just a little verse — goes into our hearts.
God’s Word for the Day
One practical application that has come through loud and clear to me, as I’ve considered the words, “treasure,” “ponder,” and “meditate”:
Don’t leave God’s Word in your quiet time! Take a word with you throughout the day, even if it’s only one word. What can you go back to, what can you feed upon, whenever there is a down moment?
I have realized that it’s easy to forget lots of reading, but it’s easy to remember (and thus “ponder” throughout the day) a “word for the day.” So I have been seeking the Lord for a word for the day, that I can carry with me, that I might become more of a “ponderer” and less of a “reader.” I might read many chapters if I have time, but don’t leave the time I have (whether little or much) without grabbing a hold of one practical word that I can treasure and ponder throughout the day.
I, too, want to be a homemaker for the Lord.