GET TO KNOW THE STORY:
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at a wedding feast in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited and were there.
When the wine was all gone, Mary said to Jesus, “They don’t have any more wine.” Jesus replied, “Mother, my time hasn’t yet come: You must not tell me what to do.” Mary then said to the servants, “Do whatever Jesus tells you to do.” John 2:1-5 MSG
GET TO KNOW THE WOMAN:
Six times. We get to read her words six times in Scripture.
Mary, the mother of Jesus who was hand-selected by God himself to bear the fully God/fully human Savior and Lord of us all, Jesus, is quoted six times in Scripture. It seems a small amount for the only person who was present at his birth, death, resurrection, and ascension. References to her are scattered throughout Scripture, in prophecy, and in history. But her words? Six times. We get to read her words only six times.
But those six times are a gift, as they reveal the beauty and strength of Mary as a mom, as a believer, as a woman. She moves from tender teen to leader of the early church, from unsure listener to emboldened speaker to empowered evangelist. There’s something about her voice through it all. I can hear it growing in authority and confidence.
Her first words? “Please help me understand…” (Luke 1:34)
Her second words? “I’m reaching out in faith to trust…” (Luke 1:38)
Her third words were a song of praise. The journey hadn’t been an easy one, and the road ahead seemed far from smooth and straight. But she had tasted trust, and the sweetness lingered on her lips. And so she sang, “God’s word is true, and His power is mighty. He has blessed me, and He will continue” (Luke 1:46-55).
Mary gives birth, and for the next 12 years raises a son who spends time learning his dad’s trade and his father’s craft. We don’t know what Jesus loved to do as a boy, but we know his mom was there every day supporting him, loving him, watching him grow. I wonder if his divinity was always on her mind as she fed and bathed and disciplined Jesus, or if he was treated differently than his brothers and sisters. Her other children had received blessings, but words told her about Jesus were weighted with a prophetic tone. She carried those words as she carried water and reminded her children to respect their elders and honor the Sabbath and be kind. The words spoken when he was 12 make me think Mary didn’t pamper Jesus—in fact, she may have expected more from him because of what she had seen in him throughout his childhood.
“His parents were shocked to find Him there, and Mary scolded Him, saying, ‘Son, your father and I have searched for you everywhere! We have been worried sick over not finding you. Why would you do this to us?’” (Luke 2:48 TPT)
Jesus is in the temple, teaching the teachers. Religious leaders are both amazed and terrified by what they are hearing. Frantic after days of searching for her son, Mary looks at Jesus and says, “What in the world do you think you’re doing?” She catches a glimpse of her son’s future—a future filled with every prophecy she knows and every word that has been spoken over her as she began the journey with Jesus.
Jesus. Immanuel. God with us. Prince of peace. King of kings. Lord of lords. Mighty counselor. He sits before her at the temple, with hungry listeners and angry onlookers. She feels the hope and sees the tension. The wondering teen mom is older now, and yet she feels every bit as unsure in this moment as she did then. Jesus looks at her, and I hear him saying, “You knew I’d be here—that we’d be here one day.”
Yes, Mary knows. But something within me thinks perhaps that day was a defining one for her. Jesus was ink on scrolls and words from angels. He was babe in womb and young boy playing. But in that temple, Jesus became the Holy response to promise. He became God made Messiah.
And yet, she is still Mary, still mom. At a lavish wedding in the neighboring village of Cana, the host rushes up to Mary with panicked eyes. “I don’t know how this happened, we thought we had everything planned so perfectly. But Mary, we’re out of wine! Our son and his bride will be mortified, the guests will be outraged. It’s not supposed to be this way—I’ve embarrassed our family.” Mary thinks for a moment and then finds Jesus talking to his friends. “We need to talk, son. They’re out of wine. Do what you do. Redeem this. Now.”
Jesus looks at her, the son speaking to his mom with what I picture is a mixture of adoration and frustration as he quietly says (my paraphrase), “This wasn’t the way I had pictured things going.” She smiles at him, walks over to the servants busy at work tending to the guests, and says, “This is Jesus. Whatever he says to do, that’s what you do.” She is emboldened to point all eyes to him.
The rest of the story is history, with ornate stone pots used for cleansing becoming carafes for the finest wine. Jesus’s first recorded miracle points to his love for his bride, the Church, and his passion for redemptive celebration.
And in Mary’s life, I see us as we walk the road with Jesus. We ask for understanding, we celebrate the response, we move from faith to wondering to faith again, we boldly proclaim his power and care. In her words, we find safety to journey with Messiah as we discover deeper purpose and meaning in the days he has given us. Though she was blessed to be his mom, Mary found her purpose had grown beyond that of mother. She discovered her calling as a follower, disciple, advocate. He says we may be emboldened too, that in his power and through his life, we gain faith to boldly proclaim, “This is Jesus. Whatever he says to do, that’s what you do.”
Mary is one of the most dynamic women in Scripture. Rarely do we have the opportunity to see a woman grow so much within its pages. Her story reminds us that we were never meant to stay the way we were when Jesus found us. We are meant to grow in strength, confidence, and voice.
Where were you when you met Jesus? How have you grown since then? Have your prayers evolved in confidence? In boldness? Where might the Holy Spirit be inviting you to grow next? Where might he be calling you to share your voice?
Excerpted from One Woman Can Change the World is an honest look at what it means to be a woman of influence in a world that often doesn’t make leadership easy. It’s about leading with grace in cultures that aren’t always graceful. It’s about reclaiming all our God-given physical and spiritual DNA and allowing it to do its work in and through each of us. As you discover the lives of real women who are influencing their communities with grace and gumption–even in countries where oppression weighs most heavily–you’ll feel inspired to reclaim your God-designed influence and impact right where you are.