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17. Mary, mother of Jesus
17-1 Mary: Our Representative || 17-2 Mary’s Character: 17-2-1 The Loneliness Of Mary || 17-2-2 The Spiritual Ambition Of Mary || 17-2-3 Hannah And Mary || 17-2-4 A Bible Mind: Mary And The Magnificat || 17-2-5 The Faith Of Mary || 17-2-6 Mary And The Virgin Of Isaiah 7 || 17-2-7 The Humility Of Mary || 17-3 Mary In Crisis: 17-3-1 Mary’s Crisis Of Faith || 17-3-2 Mary And Jesus In The Temple || 17-3-3 Mary At Cana || 17-3-4 Mary And Her Other Children || 17-3-5 Mary In Mid-Life Crisis || 17-3-6 The Jesus-Mary Relationship || 17-4 Mary’s Victory: 17-4-1 Mary At The Cross || 17-4-2 The Influence Of Mary || 17-4-3 The Psychological Matrix Of Jesus

17-3-2 Mary And Jesus In The Temple

b. In The Temple

12 years later, when Jesus is lost in the temple, she scolds Him that his father [Joseph] and her have been seeking for Him. The surrounding world perceived Him as the carpenter’s son (Mt. 13:55), the son of Joseph (Jn. 6:42). He was “as was supposed” [‘reckoned legally’?] the son of Joseph” (Lk. 3:23). Even Philip perceived Messiah to be “the son of Joseph” even after he had accepted Him (Jn. 1:45). Hence Jesus gently rebuked her that He was about His true Father’s business, in His true Father’s house. Her description of Joseph as “thy father” is surely worthy of the Lord’s rebuke. She had allowed the views of the world to influence her view of the Lord. “Is not this the son of Mary?” (Mk. 6:3) is paralleled in Mt. 13:55 by “the carpenter's son”, and in Lk. 4:22 Joseph's son; everyone assumed they were His natural parents, the son of Mary & Joseph, and this came to influence her. Jesus told them that they should have sought Him in His true Father’s house- and this may not only be a reference to the temple, but to the way in which they had assumed He was somewhere with the house / family of Joseph in the convoy; and perhaps they had gone round Joseph’s relatives in Jerusalem hunting for Him.  

Mary and Joseph were “amazed” (Lk. 2:48). She shared Joseph's amazement; and the word is only used of the amazement / incomprehension of the crowds- Mt. 7:28; 13:54; 19:25; 22:33; Mk. 10:26. Slowly she became influenced by the world's view of her son- not totally, but partially, to the extent that she lost that keen perception and height of spiritual ambition which she had earlier had. And so it can be for so many of us; the world comes to influence our view not only of our own children, but of all things in spiritual life. Lk. 2:50 records that “she understood not”, using the same phrase as is on the lips of the Lord in Mt. 13:13, speaking of those without who " hear not neither do they understand”; and ominously, Mary stood without and asked to see Jesus, only to be told that His real mothers were those women sitting around Him listening to His words. In passing, note how the disciples also often " understood not" (Mt. 16:12; Mk. 6:52; 8:17,21; Lk. 18:34). And yet the Lord counted them as more understanding than they were. As with Mary.  

Mary sought Jesus “sorrowing”, using a word elsewhere used about despair and anguish for the loss of life (Lk. 16:24,25; Acts 20:38). She feared He was dead. But where, then, was her faith in the promise that He would have an eternal Kingdom…? The distraction of poverty, the demands of the other children, perhaps an unsupportive partner, self-doubt…all these ground away at her earlier spirituality and faith, just as happens to so many of us after baptism too. “Why have you done this to us?” is a rebuke- as if she implied that Jesus had sinned / done wrong by what He had done? Surely her faith in a sinless Messiah was now put to a brutal test by a domestic upset; just as, in barest essence, ours is too by such things. Yet notice that she frames those words in the LXX language of Gen. 3:14; 4:10; 1 Sam. 13:11. Those allusions would imply that she felt Jesus had sinned; and yet at the same time as revealing that gross lack of perception, another part of her mind is still back in Scripture. Unlike 12 years previously, she is now using Scripture without correct context; but she has far from totally lost her spirituality. She “understood not” (Lk. 2:50) the clear enough statement that He was in His Father’s house. And the Lord rebuked her for spending so long, three days, looking elsewhere when she should have perceived quicker that He was going to be in the house of His true Father. I take His words not as a sharp rebuff but rather more of grief, that Mary had known him so poorly, sad at her loss of perception.