Pastor Chuck DeVane
Special to The Sentinel-Record
His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
-- John 2:5, ESV
This Gospel writer does not mention "His mother" by name. We all know it is Mary. Roman Catholics revere her more than Protestants, but this Baptist pastor would like to sing her praises this Mother's Day weekend.
She may or may not be immaculately conceived, or the perpetual virgin, or our co-redemptrix, according to your tradition. But there is one thing all Christian agree she is not: she is not to be forgotten. She is to be remembered, revered, honored, even emulated. For proper devotion to Mary can show us what it means to be a devoted follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In one sense it must have been easy for Mary to believe in Jesus. She had met with the angel, Gabriel. She was aware of her own sexual history, or lack thereof. She watched Jesus grow up, in sinless perfection, which must have been a blessing to a mother. It was easy to believe in Jesus.
But it was hard, too, just as Simeon predicted (ref. Luke 2:34-35). The ease of wedding wine eventually had to be met with the difficulty of ministry and martyrdom. Mary had to watch as Jesus was mocked, rejected, and crucified. Imagine watching your child endure such suffering. But from birth to death to the birth of the church, Mary was there, believing.
For the majority of Jesus' life, the Son of God had to answer to His mother, Mary. Telling Jesus what to do must have been very easy. When Mary said, "Clean up your room," or, "Take these tools to Joseph," Jesus promptly obeyed without complaint. It had become so easy that when the wine ran out in Cana, Mary simply made a statement with an implied command.
Then, perhaps for the first time, the relationship turned. Though Mary made her request, it was Jesus who was clearly in authority now. It must have been easy for Mary to leave matters in Jesus' hands. It must have been hard for Mary to totally surrender control of the situation to Jesus. This easy and hard thing is called trust. Trust is at the heart of the gospel, and Mary demonstrated it beautifully.
John 2:5 is the gospel according to Mary. "Whatever He says to you, do it." Faith at its heart trust, and trust at its heart obedience. It must have been easy for Mary and the servants to obey Jesus when they anticipated a great reward. Great wine was a great reward for a great wedding. It must have become hard for Mary and the disciples to obey Jesus when they anticipated a great cost. It will become obvious in this Gospel that the road from Cana to Calvary was decidedly downhill. But when Jesus died, look down at His feet and see who was there.
We know Mary watched Jesus die. We believe she was alive when her sons James and Jude were killed, too. It must have been easy to watch the Son of God and the sons of Mary preach and teach, live and love. It must have been excruciatingly hard to watch them die. Mary did it all in obedience to God the Father.
Patty Griffin, an Irish Catholic folk singer, wrote a song in tribute to her grandmother named Mary. It includes a not-so-subtle tribute to our great gospel heroine: "While the angels are singing His praises in a blaze of glory, Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place." The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ came, went, and is coming again. In the meantime, Christians, like Mary, stay behind and have a lot of cleaning up to do.
Christianity is not just for patron saints. Christianity is the call to all people all over the world. It is the call to Christian salvation and Christian service. It is the call to faith, trust, and obedience. It is the call that is infinitely easy and terribly hard, as illustrated by Mother Mary. Will you answer this call to believe, trust, and obey Jesus for the rest of your life?
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]