How Should We Treat Our Mothers?

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"Honour your father and your mother." (Exodus 20:12)

Bible Reading: Luke 2:41-51


Jesus taught us to "Honour your father and your mother." This is recorded five times in the Gospels (Matthew 15:4, 19:19, Mark 7:10, 10:19 and Luke 18:20).

It is very helpful to see how Jesus treated His mother, as an example to all of us, as to how we should treat our mothers.

1 How we should treat our mothers in childhood

How Jesus treated His mother at the temple (Luke 2:41-51)

"His mother said to Him, 'Son, why have you done this to us? Look, your father and I have sought you anxiously.' And He said to them, 'Why did you look for Me? Didn't you know that I must be about My Father's business?'"

As a child, the relationship between Jesus and Joseph and Mary seems to be very trusting, because they supposed He was in the company of people returning home after the temple visit.

They were certainly caring parents because they returned to Jerusalem in search of Him, when He could not be found. And, His response was one of amazement that they did not realize He was about His Heavenly Father's work. This was not a conflict of interest, but a higher calling - because He was obedient to them.

As children, we should willingly obey our parents in all things that are righteous. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." (Ephesians 6:1) and "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord." (Colossians 3:20)

In the words of the Christmas Carol ("Once in Royal David's City") - "And through all His wondrous childhood, He would honour and obey ... For He is our child-hood's pattern."

2 How We should treat our mothers in adulthood

How Jesus treated His mother at the wedding. (John 2:3-4)

The mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have no wine.' Jesus said to her, 'Dear woman (NIV)/Mother,(NEB),what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."

Even though to our culture this sounds like Jesus is being rude to His mother, it is in fact a term of respect and endearment. This is shown in the translation: "Dear woman." (NIV and Amplified Bible) and "Mother" (NEB)

This can also be shown by the fact that neither Mary, His disciples, nor His brothers were offended at this saying and Mary continues to be helpful. As an adult, Jesus showed His mother respect and love, even though He did not share her concern.

How do you act toward your mother when you disagree with her? Our true character is shown by how we handle disagreements. Is it with anger and rage, or silence and withdrawal, or is it with maturity, calm discussion, and love?

As an adult, Jesus still showed respect, love and helpfulness towards His mother even though on this occasion, He did not agree with her.

3 How we should treat our mothers in death.

How Jesus treated His mother at the cross. (John 19:25-27)

"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, 'woman, behold your son!' (meaning John). Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home." ("Woman" is rendered "Dear Lady" in the Amplified Bible and "Dear Woman" in the NIV.)

The Lord Jesus was taking care of His mother in her old age as God requires of us all. Mary was poor and without her own home. Jesus seeing to His mother's welfare was one of His last statements from the cross.

Jesus taught us (in Mark 7:9-13) that we should honour our parents by supporting them in old age. Joseph, Mary's husband, was probably long since dead, and Jesus as her firstborn Son had been supporting her. Now the responsibility is handed to John.


Jesus honoured His mother by obeying her in childhood, respecting and co-operating with her in adulthood, and providing for her welfare in her old age.

But, what about people whose home life has not been good? Only the Lord Himself can make up to you what you have missed. "The Lord watches over the stranger and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but the way of the wicked He turns upside down." (Psalm 146:9)

The church also is responsible to God to care for our elderly women. God's Word says, "The church should take loving care of women whose husbands have died, if they don't have anyone else to help them. But if they have children or grandchildren, these are the ones who should take the responsibility, for kindness should begin at home, supporting needy parents. This is something that pleases God very much." (1 Timothy 5:3-4 Living Bible)

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27 NIV)

How should we treat our mothers?


Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

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