Jesus spent over 90% of his life in close proximity to his mother, Mary, and Scripture records several of His interactions with her. Because He was a perfect man, we can learn much from Him about how we should act in our relationships, especially toward our parents.
First, we see Jesus’ submission to Mary when she scolds Him at the temple in Luke 2 when He is 12 years old. Jesus was doing His Heavenly Father’s business yet when He learned that His decision to stay behind in Jerusalem was displeasing to Mary (though neither sinful nor deceitful on His part), He submitted to her desire for Him to return home with the family. Mary was not a perfect mother but Jesus demonstrated humility and submission toward her in a way that we ought to emulate. Even with imperfect parents and authorities, submission is godly and right.
Next, Jesus shows sensitivity toward Mary at a wedding in Cana in John 2. It seems that Mary had some responsibilities at the reception because when they ran out of wine, she asked Jesus to intervene. Jesus had not yet begun His ministry but in response to his mother’s request, He turned the water into wine and so performed His first public miracle and began the ministry that God the Father had for Him. Jesus was sensitive to His mother’s request and through His mother’s pleading, Jesus discerned God’s leading! God often leads us through our parents’ counsel. He speaks primarily through His word but He also uses the wisdom of our parents to direct us and so we must stay sensitive to that.
In Mark 3, Jesus necessarily separates from His mother. Here we come to a passage that has some family tension in it—and don’t all families have some tension! Jesus was busy teaching in the synagogue and His mother and brothers thought it was too much and came to take Him home. Jesus, discerning God’s will for Him to remain and teach despite overwhelming crowds and many pressing needs, tells His family “No.” He separates himself from his family in order to continue obeying God’s will. Pleasing people, especially those closest to us, is a temptation that we must guard against in order to obey God. Sometimes we can please people and God but when it comes down to a choice, we must always choose God and His will for us.
Finally, we come to John 19 and we see Jesus’ support for Mary, even from the cross. Jesus is hanging on the cross in excruciating pain, paying for the sins of the world, and yet He has the presence of mind and the compassion of heart to care for the emotional and physical needs of His mother. He sees Mary in agony over His own death and places her into John’s care. Based on Jesus’ example (which is consistent with other Biblical teaching) we should concern ourselves with our parents’ well-being as long as they are alive.
Through Jesus example of submission, sensitivity, separation, and support of Mary, we learn how to have a godly relationship with our mothers, our parents, and our families.