Mary the Mother and Jesus the Child

Newborn babies cry. It’s a fact. Newborns cry for a variety of reasons.

  • I need food
  • I need comfort
  • I need rest
  • I need a diaper change
  • I need to burp
  • I have gas
  • I am too warm or too cold

Those are just some of the more common reasons. Crying is the way a newborn communicates to those who can take care of his needs.

So, I get really bothered by people who act like crying means the baby is bad. Sure, babies can have a temper and can learn to manipulate parents and such with crying, but for the most part, crying is NOT a sinful thing in the life of a newborn – especially a newborn that is just hours old or days old. Crying is especially helpful to first time parents because first time parents don’t really know a whole lot about babies, and crying clues first timers into the fact that action of some sort needs to be taken.

Since becoming a parent, I have to say that the Christmas Carol Away in the Manger really bothers me. I sing nightly to my babies as I put them to bed. At Christmas time, I like to throw in a few carols and soothing Christmas songs. When I get to the part that says “The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes/But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes,” I just kinda get annoyed.

And I’ve heard preachers and teachers in the past pretty much pass on this same message. They want to paint Jesus as some “super baby” because of His divinity. Surely Jesus wouldn’t cry!

I have to wholeheartedly disagree. Jesus was 100% God, but he was also 100% human. He came to Earth as an innocent, helpless baby. He experienced humanity in all ways, save having a sin nature. So, it would only make sense that as a baby he would cry. That is how a baby communicates with those around him. Jesus felt pain and discomfort. Jesus felt joy and adulation. Jesus felt… Jesus wept. So, yes, as a baby he would cry! There is nothing sinful about a newborn crying. I’ve always felt those lyrics from Away in the Manger try to show us just how divine and wonderful this little baby in the manger was. But I think the fact that he did cry, and probably would have cried when awoken suddenly by cattle, shows even more the wondrous nature of Jesus – that the Son of God would give up all power and glory to be as helpless as a newborn, and one that was sleeping in a dirty manger.

Likewise, I just can’t imagine what Mary went through as the mother of the Messiah. She knew when the angel revealed to her she was pregnant what that little life inside of her would go through. Surely, she had heard and read the prophecies – Isaiah says, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

As a mother, I can attest that you want the best for your children. You don’t want them to suffer in any way. You don’t want to see them in pain. When they do experience pain, you do what you can to comfort them and hope and pray it doesn’t happen again. You fight for your child. You get angry when they are treated badly and they have their feelings hurt. It is a mother’s instinct to protect her young.

Imagine Mary holding that small baby just after birth… looking into his sweet face and yet knowing, at some point in his life, she would no longer be able to protect him. What mixed emotions. She was the boo-boo fixer, the one who kissed little wounds he probably received while tinkering in Joseph carpentry shop as child. When he was a child and ran and might have tripped, she helped him up. Jesus was fully human. And Mary was there for her fully human son.

I can’t imagine what she must have experienced as the mother of the Messiah. My heart as a mother is broken enough at times as I intercede for my children in prayer, or as I watch my son get a stitch in his lip after an injury, or as I comfort my little girl because a child at a playdate might have said something mean to her. Just imagine watching your child grow up and become reviled by so many that they would sentence him to death by crucifixion. Imagine seeing your child in that pain – the helpless feeling you would have.

The first time I saw Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ I was still a couple years away from motherhood. But one scene stood out to me then – Mary and Jesus interacting on the Via Dolorosa as he carried his cross. Certainly, we don’t know what happened on his way to Golgotha, but this scene was so powerful to me in 2004. And now, as a mother, I can’t watch it without sobbing – not just tearing up – but sobbing. I’ve embeded it here for you to watch as well. It’s not your typical Christmas thought or image, but as a mother, I think about it every Christmas.

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2 responses to “Mary the Mother and Jesus the Child

  1. This was a great blog. I actually heard a preacher preach a sermon (around Christmas) that conveyed your message. I remember him asking, “do you really think that as a baby, Jesus stood in His crib and spoke 'bottle come forth' or did he cry indicating to Mary that He needed her assistance?” It was a great lesson in the humanity and humility that Jessus willingly took for us.

  2. Love this post. The whole “crying” thing irritates me too…especially people who say that they are manipulating you…ummm that would be like if all of a sudden you couldn't talk but yet you had to try to tell someone what you wanted…you would probably cry & throw a tantrum too…don't get me started.

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