I have two little boys. I love them with all my heart. I feel deeply the sentiment first expressed by Elizabeth Stone, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I often find myself catching my breath at the sight of my children. When they look at me with precious eyes, when they rest their heads on my shoulders, when they join me in the morning to cuddle before the day starts . . . the love I feel for them is almost terrifying and it is accompanied by knowing. I know that they could be gone for any number of reasons: they could be lost because of a careless driver, a stray bullet or an accidental peanut. I try not to live in paranoia, but that truth sometimes bubbles up and I catch my breath.
This is how I imagine Mary in Luke 2:51. In Luke 2, we learn that Jesus and his family regularly celebrated the Passover and part of that celebration involved some family travel. Mary, Joseph, Jesus and his siblings were celebrating Passover and when they were done, the family left but Jesus didn’t. Jesus stayed to study at the feet of the teachers in the temple. His parents took a couple days to notice their heart was not only walking around, but had been left behind. They were terrified, terrified the way we would be. They mounted a search for him and went back to the place where they last saw Him. They scolded him and he acted so surprised, where else would I be?! In verse 51 there is a small note, “but His mother kept all these things in her heart.”
What did Mary keep in her heart? Did she keep his talking back, his failure to continue on with the family? Perhaps, she kept his words, his choices, his actions and the obedience that followed. I sometimes wonder if she knew or when she knew he would die and what kind of death he would die. There’s nothing in the scripture that tells us she did, but just as I catch my breath when I am caught unaware by the realization that my children are not my own, that life is both good and fragile, I imagine Mary could predict what His end might look like.
In my moments of quiet I go on to think about the many young men in the African American community who have lost their lives innocently and/or without the trial that is their right. I can’t help, but think that their mothers worried about them too. That their mother’s feared their loss each time they left the house and how, like Mary, they are holding onto the words and moments that mothers and sons share, treasuring their little boys in all of their humanity.
From this flow of thoughts comes a flood of tears. I cry tears in solidarity with those who have lost their greatest treasure and I cry tears of joy because of the great love the Father had for us.How could the Father let His only son die? Jesus was loved this way. Jesus was loved by His Mother and the Father with that heart aching, overwhelming kind of love and I believe it is greater than we can imagine. While holding onto that love, the Father chose to allow Jesus to die because of his great love for us. Our love for our own loved ones gives us a glimpse of the Father’s love for us. The Father aches for us as we ache for our children.
Imagine Jesus, for a moment, in the place of the young men who have been dying in the streets of the United States and ask yourself, are you among the scoffers or are you among those who are grieving?
If one could sing in a blog, I would sing . . .
How deep the Father’s love for us, How vast beyond all measure, That He should give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure. How great the pain of searing loss - The Father turns His face away, As wounds which mar the Chosen One Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the man upon a cross, My sin upon His shoulders; Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice Call out among the scoffers. It was my sin that held Him there Until it was accomplished; His dying breath has brought me life - I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything, No gifts, no power, no wisdom; But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer; But this I know with all my heart - His wounds have paid my ransom.
Jesus was at one time a small boy. Doing the things that small boys do, they test to see how far they can go before someone comes looking for them. They are curious and inquisitive; all of them. Someone loves them and someone is treasuring every moment. When I see young men in the community, I wonder what their story is, I wonder who loves them and I wonder who is treasuring the moments as they grow. I pray that the Lord protects them and keeps them safe. Finally, I grieve for those lost to violence here and around the world.
“...but, His mother kept all these things in her heart.”
Spring Cooke Culver Palms Church of Christ