The Burden of Bearing the Son

Pacing the floor of our bedroom this afternoon, holding my 15 month old son tight (biceps burning!), feeling his chest rise and fall calmly for the first time all afternoon, I began to ponder how Mary felt all those long years ago.

Did teeth emerging through uncut gums cause Jesus to wake in the middle of the night screaming? Did Mary too, spend an entire afternoon in a dark room holding her son, walking back and forth because he wouldn’t sleep or eat or stop crying unless he was in her arms?

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV)

The humanity of Jesus always gets to me at Christmas. Especially when we have a baby in the house. Being God didn’t make him any less human, subject to all the ills, pains and total dependency of normal childhood. Mary, as his mother, would have felt every feeling a mother feels about her son. She wiped his chin when food dribbled down unhindered. She kissed his tears and felt frustration build within her heart, unable to decipher his cries.  And yet, bearing the angel’s words deep in her soul, she must have felt a particularly unique and powerful burden, knowing that this little boy wasn’t just her son.

Did she pore over the scriptures (where she had access to them) searching for answers to her questions about her Messiah son?

What must she have felt as she read the ancient prophecies about her own son?

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV)

I imagine Mary, watching her sleeping baby boy, recalling this passage in her mind. Emotions rolling through her heart as his little body rested peacefully, wondering desperately if she could somehow protect God himself from harm. I sometimes (mistakenly) think she was distanced from her mothering of Jesus because she knew indeed it was the son of God and not just any ordinary baby she carried and raised. I think she had to have had some divine instinct in mothering her firstborn son. She would have to be a perfect mother, as her son was indeed the perfect Son.

But Mary wasn’t divine. Mary was a mother. And she bore a Son.

And that Son bore the iniquity of us all.

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