For the Son Who Struggles With Mom
Jesus had healthy boundaries with Mary. He was obedient in childhood and He was inclusive in adulthood. However, He followed God’s leading for His life, even when mom disagreed. The sweet balance is sometimes difficult, but not impossible. Here is how the Son of God did it:
Jesus traveled every year with his mom and family to partake of the Passover festival. It took five days to walk from Nazareth to Jerusalem, and it was the ultimate (you-have-to-come) spiritual vacation.
It is wise for a mother to know his child. But it is wiser for a child to take the time to know his mother.
At the end of the long journey, just before you entered the great city, there was a reminder to Jewish people of Roman tyranny. All the tourists could see the lawbreakers who were being executed on the hills outside of the city. The preferred method used was crucifixion, and it was only reserved for slaves, revolutionaries and vile criminals. One day soon, the boy considered, it had been reserved for Him.
Once Jesus entered the gates, thousands of people could be heard singing the name of Yahweh, their deliverer. The symbolism of the feast resonated inside the young heart of Jesus as it spoke of the blood sacrifice that was required for redemption. The feast reminded Him of the Scriptures that his mama read to Him before bedtime. It gave imagery to the stories that Joseph shared with Him as they worked together in the wood shop. It burned in His heart as a love song for His Father… and as a cry of hope for the salvation of His people.
It’s Luke 2 and Jesus is twelve years old. And in this atmosphere of remembrance, Jesus had the awakening of an internal confession. As in an open vision, the festival gave Him a glimpse of His destiny. It was an intimate encounter with the ancient prophecies that spoke about Him. He saw the messianic promise and understood Himself to be the lamb that would be slain for the sins of the world, not just the iniquities of the Jewish people who celebrated, but also for the transgressions of the Romans who oppressed.
The Son of Man was soon to be manifest as the Messiah, the Savior and the greatest Rabbi. The one with the mission to reveal the Father to these people. And it became clear to Him this year.
This discovery made Him feel like He belonged in the temple. Not with his family on the journey back, but with the priests, the Levites and the teachers of the law. Between the sinners crucified and the Passover lamb sacrificed, the boy Jesus was compelled to remain in the city.
While His voice still cracked in the process of puberty, and His body tumbled through teenage growth, He concluded:
“This is my Father’s house, this is my Father’s business.”
He then did something Mary and Joseph were not accustomed to. When the festival was done, Jesus stayed back in Jerusalem in what appeared to be His first act of disobedience! They expected maturity and wisdom from their son, for they only knew Him as one who manifested absolute obedience. So mom and dad spent more than a day assuming He was around, walking back alongside their relatives. They had no previous experience that would have said to them, “Warning! Warning! If you have not seen Jesus in the last thirty minutes something bad must have happened,” (which is the expectation of most parents on a road-trip with their kids).
After a day of walking I can imagine Mary saying, “Don’t worry Joseph, he must be in the back helping grandma walk” while Joseph replies, “I’m not worried honey, I’m sure he’s helping the neighbors fix their cart… you know how he is.”
But then Mom realized that they had lost God! The special Son, who was given by the Holy Spirit, protected from Herod’s death squads and faithful to fix his bed every morning, was nowhere to be found
It’s easy to imagine Mary freaking out. So they spent morning, afternoon and evening searching for their first-born. No cellphone, Facebook or Twitter to help them in the quest, only a sea of people with endless (negative) possibilities. On this occasion, there was no angel to give Joseph a dream and there was no Gabriel leading Mary to the Messiah, so they desperately searched for three long days.
Then on the fourth day they found Him in the temple, impressing the men who impressed the nation. He asked the wisest questions and provided the best answers. There were no signs of abuse, hunger, fear or discomfort. Before He was even a teenager, Jesus seemed to be in His element, doing what He was born to do.
This event appeared to be an opportunity for Mary and Joseph to stand back, enjoy the moment, and say: “This is our son, our boy, the Messiah, sent by God for you Israel.” They could have watched and rejoiced in their son’s fulfillment of destiny.
But they did none of that! There were tears, but not of joy. When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, stricken by panic. And Mary was disappointed and afraid:
“Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
Mary had taken this escape personally and felt rejected. She was relieved that they had finally found Him, but understandably angered because of the anguish experienced during the search. Then Jesus asked back, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Depending on the tone you used when questioning your own parents, the reply of Jesus may sound arrogant, immature, or just plain rebellious. Yet, we know as a scriptural fact, that nothing impure was coming out of His heart
Therefore, His argument may be interpreted like this:
“Explain something to me mom, did an angel not come to you before you were even pregnant and told you who I was? Remember the whole government-on-His-shoulders, Savior-to-the-world deal? Was it not you Dad, who had a dream, and were led by God to care for me, to protect me in Egypt? Do you guys not remember the meaning of my first name? Do you not know what I came to do? Because I do, and now, more than ever. I am meant to be here! This is my calling! And you, of all people, should understand.”
There He was, a perfect son, on His first attempt to be His own man. Rightly following His heart to do the Father’s will. Yet the answer given by his earthly parents in this moment of discovery is a resounding, “No.”
They ordered him to come back home with them. And He missed his moment of destiny.
Jesus had a revelation of His high calling, but those who were expected to lift Him (as all moms and dads should) instead, shut Him down. Maybe Mary and Joseph could not see the full picture here, but out of everyone alive, they had more revelation of Jesus the Christ. They understood that they could not keep their son forever. They heard from God that He was alive for a wonderful purpose. However, their parental instinct did not allow them to fully understand. Either anxiety fogged twelve years of supernatural insight or they chose to ignore it because of the price they knew it demanded.
Someone had to decide the course of action. And they only had two choices in this scenario. Choice number one was for Jesus to start His earthly ministry right there. He had the attention of the top minds of the nation and He captured their imagination with His wisdom and understanding. He could have been known as the young prophet who lives a perfect life according to the Law of Moses. He could have said, “Actually Mom, I created you, which makes me your superior, so you should submit to me.” And he would have had a good point!
Choice number two was less exciting: listen to mom, submit to your parents.
Which is exactly what He did, for the Bible says that Jesus, “went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.”
No human likes to hear the word NO, especially when you are so sure of the YES
But you see, proper leadership requires submission to the authorities that are before us. Jesus therefore made His own mission come under submission to the task that God had given Mary and Joseph. He honored their calling as parents before He honored His calling as the Teacher. He chose integrity over influence, purity over ministry, and humility over pride. And because of that decision, history had to wait eighteen years, for the young Jesus to become the 30-year-old Christ, and fully manifest His destiny.
[bctt tweet=”Chose integrity over influence, purity over ministry, humility over pride.”]
Hundreds of uninspired books have been written to explain what happened during those eighteen years of the life of Jesus. There are false stories about His travels and studies. Different religions put Him in direct contact with their leaders, and there are unsupported reports of Him being influenced by other teachings and messiahs.
Meanwhile, the Bible finds no need to fill the eighteen-year gap with anything other than the submission of Christ as a son. While Mary treasured in her heart all the things that happened back in Jerusalem, Jesus went back to Nazareth, was obedient to His parents, and grew in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and with men.
God the Son looked into His earthly mother’s eyes and chose to love her before Himself. He searched His heart and made the right choice to obey the request of His adopted father Joseph. He was tempted with power, arrogance and pride but even when it was His heavenly right to step into what He was sent to do; the boy, the man, the son, obeyed.
Jesus took the highest road, even when there was a legitimate alternative available. The Son of God found it to be the best use of his time on earth during that season to just be a son to his mom and dad. Obedience was the best investment into maturity.
This story is now a challenge to all the generations who believe with all of their heart, “We got it!” His choice to be a son first is an open invitation to everyone who has ever been denied the right to step into their calling, at this present moment. We have all suffered some legitimate loss of destiny at the hands of our mothers and fathers. We have all felt stuck and blamed it on our parents. However, Jesus’ choice suggests a different perspective.
What if we have not grown because we chose not to stick by them? What if home was the perfect set-up for increase and favor? What if going back your Nazareth is the best investment into your growth, your stature, your favor?
Pastors, leaders, moms and dads, who in our eyes became thieves of dreams and vision, in the eyes of heaven, provided us with an opportunity. Even when you know without a shadow of a doubt that you are in the right place, if they ask, go back to Nazareth and be submissive to them. It is there that the wrong place for right now, becomes the best place to grow in God. Jesus chose sonship.
When’s the last time you did?
On this special Mother’s day weekend, make sure to not just write a card for mom, but actually open up your heart to her leadership, listen to her lessons and trust her love.
Jesus was not manipulated or controlled by Mary. He was intentionally submissive. There were times were they had disagreements. He has his own struggles with mom. There were moments in their relationship were they were headed in different directions. But Mary and Jesus remained connected to each other till the end.
What does it mean to honor your mom? Kids: Obey. Adolescents: Respect. Adults: Care.
Carlos A. Rodriguez is a pastor at Catch the Fire and the founder of HappySonship. His latest book is “Designed for Inheritance, A Discovery of Sonship”. He travels extensively all around the world and you can find out more at www.HappySonship.com
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