Mothers Who Prepare Their Children to Be Spiritual Leaders.

From preachers to presidents, good leaders have often praised the value of virtuous mothers. We celebrate motherhood this week because the Bible also honors women. Jewish genealogies did not include women, yet Jesus' mother is mentioned by name in Matthew 1:16. The Bible mentions Mary because she displays several virtues that should characterize all Christians. What can we learn from her godly example?


Mary is young when she first appears in Scripture, but she was spiritually prepared to joyfully endure the responsibility God intended for her. The word "favored" that describes Mary in Luke 2:28 is also translated "blessed" in Ephesians 1:3. This word describes all Christians as recipients of God's grace. Luke 2 tells us several virtues that God had already developed in Mary:

  • She delighted to be morally pure (verse 34).
  • She was surrendered to the Word and will of God (verse 38).
  • She desired to praise the Lord (verses 46-55).

Scripture records four times that Mary interacted publicly with her son. Jesus' reactions to his mother can initially seem offensive. But He is God in flesh He could not have been speaking abusively to His mother! If we understand the real meaning of His statements, we can learn the same lessons He was teaching Mary.

Mary promoted her son's spiritual obligations.

Luke 2:41-51 tells how the adolescent Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem. His parents were naturally in a panic before finding him at the Temple. Jesus' response pointed them to his eternal purpose: “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” Mary responded by treasuring these words. Her son's learning among the teachers of the Temple thrilled her heart.

Godly moms today also promote their children's spiritual obligations. They are an example in their devotion to God, prioritizing their relationship with their spouse, and championing the cause of the local church. Children will follow the spiritual examples of their parents. What parents excuse in moderation, their children will excuse in excess.

Mary recognized her son's spiritual purpose.

In John 2:1-5, Jesus is about to perform his first public miracle. He and Mary were both guests at a wedding, and Mary told her son when the wine ran out. His response could be puzzling, but it makes sense in the cultural context. He is now a grown man, no longer a child. When Jesus called his mother "woman," it was a respectful term equivalent to our word "ma'am" today. His response clarified what all his miracles were really about. It wasn't about the wedding. Jesus' miracles were meant to prove He was God, but more importantly, they all pointed to the "hour" when he would die for the sin of all people. His ultimate mission was to obey His Father by serving and giving His life as a ransom (Mark 10:45).

Mary responded to her son's instruction with a submissive heart. She didn't fully understand, but she accepted his words and continued learning about his life's mission. Like the apostle John, godly parents have no greater joy than to see their children walking in the truth (3 John 1:4). No one can put a dollar amount on spiritual progress.

Mary embraced her son's discipleship opportunities.

In Mark 3:31-35, Jesus' mother and brothers come with great urgency to see him. He was in the middle of teaching a crowd and used the interruption to make a spiritual point. "Whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” When we come together before God, we are all equal as saints.

Spiritual relationships in the family of God transcend biological relationships. Jesus demonstrated spiritual objectivity in this setting. Mary accepted that Jesus' teaching was more important at that moment than her being recognized as his mother.

Mary was satisfied with her son's finished work.

Mary was with her son in his last moments on the cross. Jesus tells his disciple John to care for Mary as his own mother. Mary is quiet. She understands and believes the purpose of her Son's life and is now satisfied with his work that will bring her salvation.

The last time we see Mary in Scripture is in Acts 1:14 just before the day of Pentecost. She is among the disciples when the Holy Spirit comes. What a joy it must have been for her to receive the Spirit who is just like her Son!

Application Points

  • Parents, your children will never do more for the cause of the local church and the gospel than you - unless you are doing all you can. What kind of example are you setting for them? Do you model devotion to God, devotion to your spouse, and devotion to the local church?
  • What is your mission? Are you chasing the American dream or are you about your Father's eternal mission?
  • Do you prioritize discipleship opportunities? Do you support the discipleship opportunities of your family even if it means spending less time with you?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Luke 15:10, Matthew 4:19 - A Christian's ultimate purpose.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Shout With Delight"

Shout with delight to the Lord, all you people,
Worship the Lord with full gladness of heart.
Come bow before him with songs full of praises,
Joyful with all of your heart.

Know that the Lord, he is God.
Know that the Lord, he is God.
For he made us, we are his flock,
The sheep of his pasture, and he is our Rock!
Know that the Lord, he is God!

Enter his gates with a song of thanksgiving,
Enter his courts with your tongue tuned to praise.
Our God is good, and his love lasts forever;
Faithfulness marks all his ways.

Quotes to Ponder

Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, had high praise for the role of mothers:

Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother. Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me. How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come? I thought her lips right eloquent; others might not think so, but they certainly were eloquent to me. How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, "Oh, that my son might live before Thee!"

Theodore Roosevelt also highly valued mothers' contribution to the life of a nation:

When all is said and done, it is the mother, and the mother only, who is a better citizen than the soldier who fights for his country. … The mother who does her part in rearing and training aright the boys and girls who are to be the men and women of the next generation, is of greater use to the community, and occupies, if she only would realize it, a more honorable as well as more important position than any man in it. She is more important, by far, than the successful statesman, or businessman, or artist, or scientist.