"Oh my God, I've lost the Messiah!!!"
Can you imagine it? I can only begin to. The terror and the panic that come when a child is missing for even two seconds are overwhelming (and really, she wasn't missing; you just couldn't see her) .... but Mary, the mother of God, in full knowledge that her son was the promised Messiah - couldn't find him. He'd been missing for almost a day before she realized He was gone. Can you imagine the questions and the worries that swirled through her head for the three days it took to find Him?
"What kind of a mother am I?" "How could He do this to me?" "What if something happened to Him?" "What will God say?" And then His answer... "Didn't you know I would be in my Father's house?" It seemed perfectly logical to Him... and it stopped Mary in her tracks.
Should she have known?
What has struck me as I've read McKnight's book is the way that Mary's understanding of Jesus shifted as He grew up and began to live into His destiny. Jesus knew the road He needed to take, but His mom didn't always understand it. McKnight says, "We can understand Mary's struggle. No one, including Mary, anticipated the kind of Messiah Jesus would become. Following Jesus proved as difficult for Mary as for Peter and for John the Baptist...and for the siblings of Jesus. Mary's special challenge was to trust that the God who spoke to her in and through the Magnificat was at work in Jesus in his ministry and his mission. While the two visions of the Messiah - the one in the Magnificat and the one guiding Jesus' public ministry - didn't seem to fit, it was hers to trust that Jesus really was the Messiah." (p. 85)
"Embracing a Messiah who would make death on a cross central to his role challenged Mary's faithfulness more than anything she would face." (p. 94) But she remained faithful, from the day Gabriel first spoke to her until the day she died.... "The Magnificat's dream of a society governed by justice with peace streaming through the streets would come through the paradox of the Cross, the power of the Resurrection, and the life-giving creativity of the gift of the Spirit of God. The society Mary anticipated...would come to pass in the Church." (p. 96-97) And Mary was right there in the middle of it. She remained faithful to what God had spoken to her, even when she didn't understand what He was doing. That challenges me to question my own willingness to do that.
Just a couple of questions for discussion this week:
How has re-visiting Mary's story in this book changed your perspective on Mary?
How has it challenged or encouraged you in your own walk with God?
And just for fun: how does McKnight's portrait of Mary as a woman of faith, justice, danger, witness, sorrow, wonder, surrender, ambivalence, faithfulness, influence, and controversy measure up against the societal portrait we've been given by artists and musicians over the years? do you have a favorite painting or a favorite song about Mary that's been either completely ruined for you or become more special, as result of what you've learned about Mary?