Mary of Nazareth, Mother of Jesus, Theotokos

Mary of Nazareth, Mother of Jesus, Theotokos

That pain was sickening. The anticipation of his reaction fanned the flames of panic within her as she prepared to tell her soon-to-be-husband something that he, surely, would not believe. Something he would hate and something for which he very well may hate her. Her life had made so much sense and been comfortably predictable. She had been betrothed to a nice man who loved her and desired to provide for her. They would have children. She would provide for them and, then, the angel came and destroyed her predictable plans. It had told her that she was blessed. Yet, in this moment of anxiety she definitely didn’t feel it. It had told her not to be afraid but it did not comfort her in this moment. It had told her that she would give birth to a son who she should name Yeshua–God is saving–and that he would be called “The Son of the Most High.” It told her that her baby would sit on David’s throne and reign over the house of Jacob for all time. It told her that her baby’s Kingdom would never end. She had protested, “But… but… I’m a virgin!” The angel had smiled and said, “I know but God is going to work it out. The God who formed you will work this out.” She had swallowed the lump in her throat and said, “Okay…if that’s what God wants.” She struggle to believe it herself–how could she expect Joseph to believe it? And, yet, it had worked out. Joseph believed–eventually. God had worked it out.

That pain was overwhelming. It was the kind of visceral pain that made your skin crawl and made you want to be anywhere but where you were. Yet, she could no more escape it than she could will the dirty stable she was reclining in to become a beautifully-appointed palace. Her midwives were the animals and Joseph looked panicked at best. She was giving birth to her promised son–the one she would call Yeshua–but it didn’t feel like or look like what she expected. They had been compelled to travel far by the Empire and they had no choice but to obey the power that commanded them. It was on a crowded night, then, that they found themselves in a stable giving birth to the “Son of the Most High.” This, surely, could not be the birthplace of a King with a never ending Kingdom…could it? This couldn’t be safe. It couldn’t be appropriate and she didn’t feel ready. And, yet, it had worked out. He had been born and was healthy. God had worked it out.

That pain was seductive. It was the kind of pain that whispers in your ear that it would only take a few quick tasks to make it vanish. Yet, as you chase it down you become consumed with it. She had heard the terrible things they were saying about her son. They thought that they were shielding her from their hurtful words but she was hearing it in their anxious and downcast eyes andseeing it in their covert whispers. They thought her beautiful son was crazy and unfit for the world. The worst part was, when the fear started seducing her, she wondered if they weren’t right. He was traveling around the land erratically. The one whose Kingdom was supposed to have no end was not gathering an army but, rather, eating with sinners and outcasts. He was touching and loving lepers. He mocked the religious leaders that he had been raised to respect. He was offering a strange kind of resistance to the Empire where he essentially begged them to crush him and, then, offered his bare neck as a show of defiance. In return for their hatred, he was offering love. Surely, he understood that the world only like love on its own terms–that it resisted the kind of radical love he was offering. She had even begged him to quit upon occasion and he had looked at her–oh, the pity mixed with love in his eyes–as if she didn’t get it. She wanted to run to him and beg him to give it up. She wanted to protect him where he refused to protect himself. Oh, how she longed to gather him to herself like a chick to a hen. And, yet, it had worked out. He had continued his ministry and healed countless thousands. He had understood what he was doing and knew it to be important work. God had worked it out.

That pain was the worst. She would have given anything to release him from it. And, yet, the cruelest part was that she could do nothing to help him. Nothing. He had crossed the wrong people and resisted the powers too stridently to get away with it. They had arrested him, beaten him until she barely recognized him, and now they had nailed him to a cross–naked and bleeding–so that he might die a humiliating death. She longed to scream at the crowds that waited for her beautiful son to die. Instead, she sobbed uncontrollably willing the world to fall in around her so that she and her beloved son might be done with this. He looked down to his good friend and said, “Don’t worry about me. Take care of my mother.” Her heart broke again for her soft-hearted and loving son who thought of her at the moment of his death. He looked into her eyes and said, “Don’t worry about me, mom. Take care of this man–he’s your son.” She was panicked and overwhelmed and couldn’t comprehend the love that consumed her son. He died a criminal’s death. They took him down and buried him. And, yet, it had worked out. He had brought redemption even to a criminal on the cross. He had sowed the seed of conversion in the heart of, at least, one of his executioners. He had died but in his death he had inaugurated a Kingdom founded on love, peace, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. He had been raised from the dead after three days. He had ascended to Heaven. His Kingdom truly had and would have no end. God had worked it out.

Her pain was intense throughout life–she who was so close to the heart of the Son of God. She had been his mother and, perhaps, his most loving disciple. She had been present for his first miracle–she had even suggested it–and had been present for his greatest miracle–dying and being raised for the sins of the world. She had been the ewe who gave birth to the lamb that takes away the sins of the world. And, at that waning moment of her life she wondered what he might say to her when she saw him. Maybe, he would call to her as he had as a child: “Mommy!” She had been given a hard life and a hard calling. She had been made to suffer greatly. And, yet, it had worked out. She had been a vessel that bore God into the world. She had followed after her son Yeshua–God is saving–as he saved the world. Now, she was ready to see her son, again. God had worked it out.

Photo Credit

Read more from Joshua Hearne at his personal website and the website of Grace and Main Fellowship, the non-traditional community he ministers with.

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