A Slightly Irreverent Real-Life Perspective on a Biblically Unmentioned Mother
Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Thanks, Moms in all forms for helping ensure future civilization. To my moms who are without a husband in the house at the moment, carry on Warriors! You are loved and appreciated!
It is my sincere wish that everyone gets to celebrate with a meal that they don’t have to prepare, cook, or clean up after. The most consistent life-long responsibility of a woman is to feed the husband and brood. By my count, the average woman plans for and provides 1095 meals a year. 18 years per child, multiple children, a husband… hold on, I need a snack and a calculator.
Part of our traditional Mother’s Day was attending church and then going out to eat. If you also attend church on Mother’s Day, I am almost certain that the sermon will be about the Proverbs 31 Woman. (She may be painted as perfect in Scripture, but at least she’s not airbrushed. She’s enough to measure up to without a visual, thank you very much.) If not, perhaps Mary the mother of Christ, one of or the many faithful mothers- perhaps Sarah, Hannah, or Elizabeth- who were blessed to carry an AARP card in their Old Testament diaper-bags. Yet when I consider the Great Mothers of the Bible, there is one that I think is glaringly unmentioned. Her time has now come.
You know the story. It’s almost Passover and Jesus has been healing the sick and teaching all day. A crowd has gathered and the people are hungry. The disciples have no food and no real plan to feed the people. The Gospel of John tells us that Andrew brings a little boy’s 5 barley loaves and two fish to Jesus, which Christ uses to feed over 5,000 men and their families. Not just feed, mind you. Fully satisfy with leftovers.
Now, if I had that “4:00! What’s for dinner?!” multiplied for 5,000 + and Jesus’ command, let’s just say I’m glad He can raise the dead. However, I am sure Mary and Martha would have been all over this one. The baskets for leftovers would have been decorated and the spread would be worthy of Pintrest. Look closely though…Did you see our hero? No? Let me go back.
“One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”
A little boy provides his lunch to Jesus- which may be a miracle in and of itself. Now, for the life principle: although Jesus is all-knowing and fully capable, we are to bring our cherished belongings to Christ and watch him do great things with it. Amen. While the obedient giving of the boy is outstanding, I submit to you that he was able to provide his lunch to Jesus because HIS MOTHER got up, prepared barely loaves by hand, and packed a lunch for her son.
Speculation, you say?
Sometimes there is speculation on the boy’s attendance. Two common options are that
A) the mother needed the boy out of the house to prepare for Passover, or
B )The mother, unable to attend due to house duties, packed a lunch and sent him off to learn and report back.
Let me stop there. If we’re allowing for speculation, I’m crashing this party.
Option A) I don’t know one mother who is so desperate to have her ring-tailed-tooter out of the house that she is willing to risk public ridicule as the mother of the boy who heckled Jesus during a sermon.
Option B) Send a boy to report back? Pssht. I can hear it now.
“So, how was your day listening to Jesus?”
“What did you learn?”
“Nothing.” “Who was there?”
“Did Jesus give you any assignments?”
I think we can rule that one out.
I’d like to propose another option- that the boy’s mother may have been present. There is no scriptural basis and yes, this is hypothetical. Don’t go nuts. Turn up your sense of humor and be a little light hearted about scriptural life application, please.
I imagine this mother, like most mothers, is ready to take advantage of a great object lesson opportunity. There is a hungry crowd, Jesus is hungry, and she came prepared! Her son won’t go hungry; he can have her lunch- after he gives his to Jesus. But first, a lesson on sharing, supply and demand, and giving must take place. Then we can get on to multiplication, creation, and cleaning up after eating.
If the mother had been present, there is another context to the boy’s sacrificial giving. This is a boy with a lunch among a hungry crowd! Surely you remember the 2nd grade lunch table when someone foolishly unveiled the pudding, Oreos, or fruit roll up. That poor soul. How fast a hungry crowd adopts mob rule! Oh, to have a lunch monitor there! “Did you bring enough for everyone?” Actually, YES. (Boo-ya!)
We tell our children to be like Jesus, but imagine this. Mom and son sit in a vast crowd. Mother says, “They seem not to have food for all these people.” (The MOM LOOK). Now let’s stop there. This is one of those cases where emulating Christ totally literally can backfire.
What if this poor boy decided to quote Jesus from John Chapter 2 at the wedding in Cana and answered, “Woman, what does that have to do with me?” Oh dear. Now, “Woman” may be a respectful address in Israel, but in Texas addressing your mother as ‘Woman’ won’t work, even if you are the Son of God.
Ultimately, whether willingly or pressured from mom-guilt, the boy gives up his lunch. A wonderful sacrifice, although it makes more sense if the mother is crossing her arms and watching with raised eyebrows from a few feet away. Yet, I am confident this mother, beaming with pride would have then promptly given her lunch to her empty-handed son and declared she wasn’t hungry anyway.
For several reasons, this scripture took on a new perspective when I became the mother of a toddler. I often take my son outside to play in the grass as I teach him about the world until he gets hungry. I provide an endless supply of crackers and cheddar goldfish that manage to miraculously multiply in my diaper bag (not to mention Cheerios- the staple of childhood and semi-permanent coating of minivans). There are always leftover fragments on the ground. (Oh, disciples? Bring the baskets! *Crickets*)
It’s a daily grind to feed the children, but a well-fed and nurtured child has the capacity to influence the crowd around him. I choose to hail and emulate the unmentioned woman who possibly provided the substance for this miracle. She provided a physical meal for her son and made sure her son went to get the best education he could be offered at the time– the Word of God and Bread of Life.
It is a tremendous responsibility of mothers to feed our children. From our own bodily intake while pregnant, breastfeeding for some, shopping, planning, preparing, cooking, serving, scraping, washing, storing… it’s unending. More than that, we must feed their minds and hearts- a responsibility beyond Cheddar goldfish. Once again, here’s to you, fellow mothers. May the blessing you provide for your children multiply and impact thousands.