Sunday Thoughts: Great Moms of the Bible

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Since it’s Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share a little bit about mothers in the Bible. There are plenty of incredible moms in the Bible, and there are lessons we can learn from them.

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Both the Old and New Testaments share stories of mothers who waited long past their prime to have babies that fulfilled God’s promises. In Genesis, Sarah was 90 years old when she gave birth to Isaac, the son through whom God pledged to start the nation of Israel, while in the Gospel of Luke, Elizabeth was well past childbearing years — though the Bible doesn’t give her exact age — when she gave birth to John the Baptist, whose God-given purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus.

We don’t hear the name Jochebed that often, but she carefully hid her baby from a cruel Egyptian Pharaoh who gave orders to kill all the Hebrew boys. She placed her baby in a basket on the Nile, and Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and named him Moses. Jochebed also served as Moses’ nursemaid, and God used her to raise up the man He would choose to deliver Israel from slavery.

Naomi comes to mind more as a mother-in-law than as a mother, but the widow and her widowed daughter-in-law Ruth believed in faith that a kinsman-redeemer would help the destitute women. Ruth married Boaz, and they figure into the lineage of David, Israel’s greatest king and “a man after God’s own heart.”

Hannah was unable to give her husband children, and her husband’s other wife mocked her for it. She prayed to God for a child, and she promised to dedicate her child to the Lord’s service. He blessed her with a son, Samuel, who became the last judge of Israel and anointed Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David.

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And then, of course, there’s Mary, the mother of Jesus. It’s hard to fathom what she went through carrying a child and having to explain to people that the baby in her womb was the Son of God. The Bible doesn’t give us much insight into what it was like to raise Jesus either.

One thing we do know is that Jesus’ brothers, Mary’s other sons, didn’t believe that He was the Son of God at one point (although we do know that at least two of his brothers, James and Jude, later believed and became leaders in the early church), but we can’t be sure if Mary doubted Him the way they did. I tend to think she didn’t doubt Him because she helped initiate Jesus’ first miracle, at the wedding in Cana — even though Jesus told her that it wasn’t His time to perform miracles yet:

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

John 2:1-11 (ESV)

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I always chuckle a little at Mary in this passage. Isn’t that such a mom thing to do? “My son will take care of this; just do whatever he tells you.” Mary, the one who the Bible says “pondered [things] in her heart,” had no doubt that Jesus could help the family at the wedding, and that miracle was the start of His ministry.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and grandmothers out there! Even though today can be a hard day for some people, I hope all of us can take encouragement from the great mothers of the Bible. May we strive to have their faith and courage.

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