Mary the mother of Jesus can teach us a lot about motherhood. It was pretty remarkable Mary said “yes” to God and God’s plan for salvation! God’s plan for us often doesn’t go according to our own expectations. This was certainly the case for Mary. Yet despite the challenges and ups and downs of caring for Jesus in the womb, Mary realized God’s true nature and sought to praise him in how she lived her life.
But motherhood is not just limited to a handful of biblical examples. It might sound surprising to some people, but God is actually described as a mother in many passages from both the Old and New Testaments.
We often pray to God as “Father”–think of the Lord’s Pray and how we say “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Jesus also referred to God the Father in the Gospel of John quite often. But a more holistic way for us to think about our relationship to God is that God is our heavenly parent. God is both a mother and father figure for all humanity. God is a loving parent to us.
God is like a father to us in many ways (and we explored a few of these last week when we discussed Jospeh!).
God is also like a mother in how God cares for and nurtures us. Here are several verses and passages that point to God’s motherly love.
- Hosea 11:3-4 God described as a mother “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.”
- Hosea 13:8 God described as a mother bear “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…”
- Deuteronomy 32:11-12 God described as a mother eagle “Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.”
- Deuteronomy 32:18 God who gives birth “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”
- Isaiah 66:13 God as a comforting mother God: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
- Isaiah 49:15 God compared to a nursing mother “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”
- Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 God as a Mother Hen “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
- Luke 15:8-10 God as woman looking for her lost coin “Or what woman having ten silver coins, is she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
When we think about motherhood, it is important to consider people like Mary in the nativity story. But most importantly, it is important to think about how God is the ultimate parent. God’s love provides a timeless example of how a mother’s love ought to be–caring, compassionate, nurturing, protective, and tender.