There is a very enlightening story tucked away in chapter 8 of Luke’s gospel. Jesus had been traveling through cities and villages, preaching the news of the kingdom. With him were the twelve disciples, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and many other women “…who provided for them out of their means” (8:1-3 ESV).
As more and more people gathered around Jesus and his followers, he recounted the parable of the sower, whose precious seed was trampled underfoot, devoured by the birds of the air, or fell on stony ground or among thorns. But some of the seeds feel on good soil, and yielded fruit a hundredfold (8:18). When his disciples questioned him about the meaning of this story, Jesus explained that the soil in which the seed of God’s Word is sown is the human heart, and the Word that is planted in the fertile ground of a good and honest heart will ultimately “…bear fruit with patience” (8:15).
At the end of this narrative Luke wrote that,
“[Jesus’] mother and brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd.
And he was told ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.’
But he answered them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it’” (8:19-21).
Interestingly, scripture gives us the same Greek word for “brothers” – adelphos – in both verse 8:19, “[Jesus’] mother and brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd.”
And in verse 21, “But he answered them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’”
In verse 19, brothers/adelphos would mean biological brothers (or sisters) of either the same mother or the same father; but in verse 21, brothers/adelphos would mean fellow believers (men and women) who are united by bonds of affection. Verse 19 would refer to brothers or sisters sharing biological blood, while verse 21 would refer to brothers or sisters united by the bonds of spiritual Blood.
We might think that because adelphos makes provision for either brothers or sisters, men or women, that everybody was represented by that one plural Greek word in verse 21. But Jesus made it a point to specifically speak to one other group of believers: Mothers.
The Greek word for “mother” is meter, which can mean a literal, physical mother, as in verse 19, or figurative mothers, as in verse 21.
Luke tells us that Jesus’ mother Mary was there, with his physical brothers and sisters, but that they couldn’t get close to the Lord because he was surrounded by his spiritual mothers, brothers and sisters.
We know that Jesus was not disrespecting his earthly mother in verse 21, because Exodus 20:12 tells us to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (ESV) and Jesus, being without sin, would not have broken God’s fifth commandment.
On the contrary, I believe that Jesus was speaking something very intimate over all mothers on that day, honoring not only Mary, his biological mother, but also all believing women who have borne physical children or mothered spiritual children. Jesus honored all mothers who hear the Word of God and do it, with a special Mother Anointing.
In Genesis chapter 3, God pronounced a curse over Eve, saying, “’I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children…’” (3:16a ESV).
But through the prophet Jeremiah God said, “How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man” (31:22 KJV); and listen to how The Message translates the prophecy of the gestation of Christ: “God will create a new thing in this land: A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!”
Throughout scripture, God gives us the stories of heroic women who were mothers in faith. Noah’s wife and her daughters-in-law were the progenitors of a new civilization; Sarah carried in her womb a new nation; Deborah was a mother in Israel, a judge, a prophetess and a warrior; Naomi nurtured Ruth, who was the great-grandmother of David, great-great-grandmother of Solomon and ancestress of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Elizabeth bore John the Baptist in her old age. He prepared the way for the Messiah, whose birth was witnessed by prophets and celebrated by angels, kings and shepherds but was only experienced by Mary.
A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God, who will transform all who believe in his name! Jesus was born of a virgin, which was a new thing on the earth, so that we could be born again as God’s new creation (see Isaiah 7:14; John 3; 2 Cor. 5:17).
As believers whose hearts are prepared like fertile soil to receive the precious seeds of God’s Word, we are grafted in as members of God’s eternal family, sharing one Father, united by the Blood of Christ and his Holy Spirit.
We are brothers and sisters in Christ, who by the shedding of his Blood, has broken every curse that was created at the fall. And Jesus made it a point, in a simple and profound way, to erase the stain of Eve’s sin from the hearts of God’s daughters, making us ready to receive his precious seed in good soil, by naming us his sisters and mothers. We were born again in him – because Jesus was willing to suffer all the pain of sin for us - and in him we are able to “give birth” to spiritual children without suffering because in Christ, Eve’s curse is broken, and we are made whole again. As Isaiah prophesied in verse 10:27, the anointing breaks the yoke of sin that was placed upon us.
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation’” (Luke 1:46-50 ESV).
As Mary received God’s Holy Spirit conceiving Christ to rest within her for a time, so we, too, who believe in his name, receive the Spirit of the Living God to become his tabernacle and dwelling place for eternity - and all generations will call us blessed, in praise of the glory of God Almighty, in Jesus’ name.