(updated from the archives)
This Sunday, families across the United States will honor their mothers and grandmothers. Churches often make a big deal of Mother’s Day as well, honoring moms in the congregation. However, we really appreciate when churches acknowledge the fact that, even as we honor moms, not every woman has children, and of those who don’t are not necessarily childless by choice. For some, the day magnifies loss: a parent who has passed away, a miscarriage that took a child, an estrangement that makes the day bittersweet. Mother’s Day can be a painful day for some women, and even men who have lost their mother.
Jesus honored his own mother, and honored women, but valued them as people, not just as producers of children. Women’s value went far beyond their ability to be mothers. Rather, Jesus valued their willingness to risk everything for God, their desire to follow him.
For Mother’s Day, we wanted to share an excerpt from our study, Face to Face.
Until the Industrial Revolution, children were needed to help run homes and farms. Children were vitally needed by both men and women as a source of labor and security. They were an asset, not a liability. A wife brought value to the family, in part, by producing children.
This need for children limited women to work that could be done while pregnant or nursing, which in most circumstances meant tasks in the household or close to it. For most of history, and still in developing countries today, women were/are valued mostly for their ability to bear children, run a household, and to serve as the sexual property of men.
In these circumstances, marriage is motivated more by the need for what the partners produce than by love or companionship. These kinds of relationships are based on Genesis 3 and the circumstances of the Fall. In Matt. 19:8 and Mark 10:5, Jesus condemned these motives following the Fall as hard-hearted. Jesus instead restored man and woman to a different kind of relationship – the face-to-face, one flesh, naked and unashamed relationship for which God created us (Genesis 1 and 2). In keeping with this purpose, and as part of our redemption, Jesus showed us that a woman’s worth and purpose in life goes far beyond her economic role of the fallen world.
Look at the following verses:
Luke 1:26-28, 30, 34, 35, 38
…the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph….The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said…. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus….” Mary said, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you….” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
If…no proof of a girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and the men of her town shall stone her to death. (NIV)
What risk was Mary taking in agreeing to bear a child that was not Joseph’s? What does Mary’s willingness to obey God despite this risk tell us about her character?
While [Jesus] was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”
Compare what the woman in the crowd thought was important about Jesus’ mother with what Jesus says is important about a woman (or a man!).
To order a copy of Face-to-Face, visit our amazon page.
Like this post? Use the sharing buttons below to pass it along to friends. Want to share your thoughts on this post? Go to our Facebook page and leave a comment there!