“Jesus’ mother was there, …” – John 2:1b

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Some people ridicule Mother’s Day as a lot of sentimental drivel. They say it’s nothing more than the creation of the greeting card companies and the florists. And, to be perfectly candid, there are a lot of ministers who shun this day because, they say, it’s not a religious holiday. Furthermore, they preach from the lectionary, which has an assigned scripture reading each week, and so Mother’s Day is left out. While there is a great deal of sentiment associated with this day, what’s wrong with that? Seems to me that a little bit of sentiment is healthy. True enough, there are some women in the Bible, such as Jezebel and the vindictive Herodias, who had John the Baptist beheaded, who tarnish the institution of motherhood. There are some women today who abandon, abuse, and corrupt their children and who create a poor model, but I’d like to think that these are the exceptions. Most mothers do the right thing and deserve recognition. Especially in these trying and very challenging times. 

Mothers have a tremendous influence on their children. I’m totally convinced that the person who influenced Jesus the most, second only to God, was Mary. That’s not to diminish Joseph’s role. Had he lived; I’d like to think that he would have been on Cavalry’s Hill standing right next to Mary. But very clearly Mary’s role in God’s plan didn’t end at the birth of Jesus. God used her, along with other persons and events, to help mold the personality and ministry of Jesus. Listen to how John begins the 2nd chapter of his Gospel. “The mother of Jesus was there.” The event that he was specifically referring to, was the wedding at Cana of Galilee. Yet, in a real sense, Mary was always there for Jesus. Her love surrounded him, her values influenced him, her trust supported him. And the last thought that Jesus had on the cross, with the sins of the world upon his shoulder, was for his mother. He looked at John the disciple and said: “Behold your mother.” And then he looked at Mary and said: “Behold your son.” That same type of influence can be seen in other individuals. 

Many scholars have concluded that you can’t really understand John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, unless you understand his mother Susanna Wesley. She was so instrumental in his life that she inevitably affected Methodism and its direction. Americans know that Abraham Lincoln led this nation through its time of greatest crisis; but who was it that made Abraham Lincoln the man that he was? I know what Lincoln thought. He said it was his mother. I would submit to you that there’s not a person who has not in some way been forever influenced by their mother. I firmly believe you can’t understand who a person is and what motivates them until you understand their past. And you can’t understand a person’s past without understanding the source that co-created that person along with God—their parents. Never underestimate the influence parents and particularly mothers have on their children’s lives.

Eternal God, we thank you for the positive influence that mothers and all mentors can have upon our lives. Help us to be positive examples of influence upon our children, grandchildren and people we mentor, in Jesus name. Amen.

Questions for Reflection

1. How do you think Jesus’ mother helped shape Jesus’ personality and ministry?
2. Can you remember ways that your mother has helped to shape your personality and values?
3. What are some ways that you can have a positive influence upon your children? Your grandchildren? Someone you are supervising or mentoring?