Jesus taught many crowds about many spiritual matters during His time on earth. During one such instance, He was teaching on prayer and then about Beelzebul. As He was speaking, Luke 11:27-28 says that a woman lifted up her voice and called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
What was Jesus’ response?
He said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Was the woman wrong to consider Mary, the mother of Jesus, blessed? No, not at all, for Mary was indeed blessed. In Luke 1:39-45, the mother of John the Baptist, Elizabeth, is the first to proclaim Mary’s blessedness. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” she says. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
In His response to the woman, Jesus was not correcting her words or denying them or rebuking them. Rather, He was improving upon them. He gave her, and all who were listening, a more accurate understanding of why one would be blessed and what it means to be blessed.
1. The woman who lifted up her voice listened to Jesus. Before we go any further, can we give credit to this woman for listening to Jesus? Not only did she listen to His words, she also admired them. Before Jesus began teaching about Beelzebul, He first cast out a mute demon from a man. When the crowd that was gathered saw this, all were amazed, but some castigated Jesus’ actions and others tested Him.
The woman, however, said nothing but “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” She recognized the wisdom and power with which Jesus spoke. Probably because she was a woman herself, she thought it best to give credit to Mary because she knew that without a mother Jesus would not have been brought into the world. The woman was probably unaware of Jesus’ true identity. She probably did not know that God was His Father and that He would soon become the Savior of the world.
What she did know was that there was something different about Jesus. The way He spoke. The way He treated others. The miracles He performed. As she was listening to His words, the woman who lifted up her voice knew she wasn’t just hearing another ordinary man or some hypocritical Pharisee. She had never heard someone speak the way Jesus spoke. Jesus’ words were truth and power and light and goodness. Jesus’ words warmed her soul, lit a fire in her bones, made her want to stand up and shout, and when she opened her mouth, the best thing she could think to say was, “Blessed is your momma!”
You might find yourself saying something unexpected too after you hear Jesus’ words.
“How can I hear His words?” you may ask. By reading His Holy Word, the Bible. The words that Jesus spoke back then to the woman who lifted up her voice, are the same words that He is speaking today to you and to me. If you truly listen to them and let them take root in your heart, you will find that they will renew your mind, empower your spirit, and revolutionize your life.
2. The woman who lifted up her voice was led to a higher understanding of what it means to be blessed. I’m sure Jesus was glad that the woman was listening to Him, but He did not only want her to listen to His words. He wanted her to understand them. He did not want her to place unnecessary emphasis on an earthly relationship when He was trying to help people understand that He was the way to a heavenly relationship that they could all attain by believing in Him.
It appears that the woman considered Jesus’ mother blessed because she gave birth to and raised a son who could speak in such a wise and powerful manner. But one is not blessed because of the caliber of children they give birth to. Neither is one blessed because their parents come from high society. One is blessed when they not only hear the Word of God, but also obey it.
Matthew Henry said, “Though it is a great privilege to hear the word of God, yet those only are truly blessed, that is, blessed of the Lord, that hear it, keep it in memory, and keep to it as their way and rule.”
You will find happiness and blessing in other things, places, and people throughout your life, but your chief happiness and your greatest blessing will be obtained from both hearing and obeying the Word of God.