I, like many of you, would not be who I am were it not for my mom. Her character, her integrity, her selflessness, and her compassion were seeds planted into the soil of my being that God has cultivated into the man that I am - a man of much less stature than her to be sure. My mom's spirituality - expressed so authentically in sincere worship as she plays the piano and sings and as she writes yet another letter of encouragement and blessing to a friend in need - formed my own walk with God. Growing up there were countless afternoons and late nights where I would sit on the counter in the kitchen and talk endlessly and arrogantly and whiningly about life, God, other people, drama, etc. She dutifully listened and patiently loved and faithfully guided who I was as she kept an eye on who I was becoming.
This is one of the few ways that I am like Jesus.
He, too, was a "momma's boy." He, too, had the indelible imprint of his mother's spirituality upon His life. I have always been fascinated by Luke's affirmation that "Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and favor..." Jesus grew! He learned things he did not know. He discovered things he was as of yet unaware. He became someone he had not yet become. Jesus grew. His character has to be shaped. his mind molded. He heart cultivated. His mission formed. His identity crafted. Jesus grew. He didn't come like I want Christmas toys to come - already put together, all pieces in place, all parts in working order. Jesus came as we all come into the world, needing to be taught, led, shaped, loved, guided, and formed.
And right there alongside Him the whole way was His mother, Mary - dutifully listening, patiently loving, and faithfully guiding who He was as she kept an eye on who He was becoming.
Note this example of how Mary's spirituality and devotion was grown in Jesus:
Jesus, called to bear the cross, is promised rejection, ridicule, and blood-spilling pain, and he says yes because it was the will of God for Him.
Mary, called to bear the Christ, is promised rejection, ridicule, and blood-spilling pain, and she says yes because it was the will of God for her.
Jesus said, "Not my will but yours be done." (Lk 22:42)
Mary said, "May it be to me as you say." (Lk 1:38)
I am thankful that Jesus was a momma's boy, learning the ropes of kingdom living from the one who gave birth to Him and who loved Him in a way that no one has ever loved Him since.
Reflecting on these two narratives of persons accepting the call of God into rejection, ridicule, and blood-spilling pain makes me wonder how they did it. An unwed, pregnant teenage mother was supposed to go around defending that she had not had sex, that we was indeed a virgin, and the baby growing inside her was implanted by the Holy Spirit! A Jewish carpenter was supposed to go around defending that his nonviolent ways, that his interaction with sinners, and that his death on a cross were God's way of saving the world, establishing a new kingdom, and overthrowing evil!
What gave them the ability to accept such an outlandish call by God? What made them willing to "let it be done to them as God said"?
To answer this, I offer another parallel in the Jesus-Mary narratives that I had not seen until this morning.
Before the call upon Mary was announced and accepted, she heard this, "Greetings Favored One! The Lord is with You! Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God!" (Lk 1:28-29)
Before the ministry of Jesus was announced and the cross accepted, he heard this, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased!" (Lk 3:22)
My conviction is that Mary and Jesus both were able to accept the call of God, face the rejection of people, and journey through great pain because they knew who they were in God's eyes. Mary knew God chose her, loved her, and favored her. Jesus knew God chose Him, loved Him, and favored Him.
We will be distracted by the praises of others and derailed by their ridicule if we do not know who we are. If we do not based our identity, our worth, and our purpose in God's grace, delight, and favor, then we will always be seeking to gain it from others. Our calling will shift like the sands under the winds of approval and waves of rejection if we do not know who we are - we are sons and daughters of God with whom He takes great delight, upon Him rests His favor, and in whom dwells His Sprit.
Perhaps the best thing Mary did was not to teach Jesus to rely on her love, praise, and approval but upon the worth, identity, and purpose that was His by means of His heavenly parent.