Mary: A Pierced Heart

Posted on July 13, 2020


By David Ettinger

This is a fictional account based on the heartbreak Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, endured.

He had called her “woman,” and it pierced her heart.

mary sad

There was a wedding in Cana, and the entire family – Mary, four of her sons, and several daughters – had made the 9-mile journey from their home of Nazareth. Mary’s husband Joseph was not with them; he had died several years earlier. Jesus, Mary’s oldest son, had gone separately – He was there with His few followers.

At the wedding feast, there was a problem; the banquet master had failed to provide enough wine. Wishing to spare the host any more embarrassment, Mary informed Jesus of the situation. “Son,” she said, “they have no more wine.”

She was expecting Him to reply, “I’ll take care of it, Mother.” Instead, Jesus looked at her distantly. “Woman,” He said as if expecting her to know better, “why do you involve me. My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

Woman! The word slashed Mary’s soul and she felt as if she had been slapped. She was staggered, then quickly recomposed herself, trying to stand strong against the blow. She turned to the servants.

“Do whatever this Man tells you,” she ordered.

She stood back and gathered herself. In the meantime, Jesus went to work. He ordered the servants to take six stone water jars – jars used for ceremonial washing – and fill them with water. Mary was baffled, but said nothing.


After the jars were filled, Jesus instructed the servants to take them to the master of the banquet. When the banquet master dipped his glass into one of the jars, it came up dripping bright, red wine. Mary was staggered.

It has begun, she told herself, and leaned back against the wall for support, her heart aching.

As the family returned home to Nazareth – Jesus and His followers headed to Capernaum – Mary’s mind was a blur of muddled emotions.

It had been almost 30 years ago that she, just a 15-year-old mother, and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to be dedicated to the Lord. An elderly gentleman named Simeon was there. He took the Child in his arms and proclaimed his own life’s desires fulfilled now that he had seen Israel’s long-awaited Messiah.

As Simeon handed Jesus back to Mary, he said, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34, 35).

Mary never forgot those words.

Over the next few years, she came to understand what he meant. Her studies into the sacred Hebrew Scriptures revealed that Israel’s Messiah would be forsaken, scorned, mocked and ridiculed.[1] She knew He would be despised, rejected, oppressed and afflicted.[2] And she knew He would die for the sins of His people.[3] And the mere thought of it pierced her fragile heart.

Jesus at temple

The first time Mary really felt it – the stabbing of her heart – came 18 years ago when Jesus was 12. The family, along with others from Nazareth, had gone up to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. When it was over, the large group left the city to return home. After a day, however, Mary noticed that Jesus was not with them. They returned to Jerusalem and found Jesus sitting in the temple courts, listening to the teachers of the law and asking them questions. Mary was exasperated and rebuked Him.

“Son,” she said, “why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you” (Luke 2:48).

Jesus looked up at her, and Mary noticed for the first time that distant look in her Son’s eyes.

“Why were you searching for me?” He asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)

Mary gazed at Jesus, but could say nothing.

My Father’s house, she repeated to herself. He had not even called her “Mother,” but had referred to God has His Father. It was the first time Jesus had hinted that He understood why He had come to Earth.

And who His real Father was. And that, in essence, He had no real mother.

Of course, she already knew all this. Jesus was not truly hers, but belonged to God. However, she never considered it. Until that moment. And it punctured her heart with a mighty force. The words stung, bruised, burned.

mary contemplate

Over the next few days and weeks, however, Mary regained her composure as Jesus proved the obedient youth, minding her and calling her “mother.” In fact, over the next 18 years, as Jesus grew to adulthood, He was the dutiful Son, running the family’s carpentry business after Joseph died and lovingly looking after His mother.

Then one day Jesus announced that His time had come. He was going to Capernaum to fulfill His mission. Mary would follow Him and still felt close to her Son. Jesus had spent the first few months of His ministry teaching and gathering disciples to Himself.

And then came Cana. Jesus called her “woman.” He was no longer hers, but the world’s. He performed His first miracle – the first demonstration of His deity. This is who Jesus was.

It would now all begin. Jesus would reveal Himself as Israel’s Messiah. He would bring salvation to the nations,[4] just as Simeon said, but He would also suffer. Suffer horribly. Suffer violently. Suffer to the death.

Mary did not know when it would come, but she knew it would come soon. And that she would be alive to see it all. And feel it all. And share in the agony of it all.

As she and her family made their way home from Cana to Nazareth, Mary’s heart ached as never before. Jesus had pierced it by calling her “woman.” She felt the blade of the sword as it punctured her.

From this day forward, it would penetrate ever deeper.

[1] Psalm 22:1, 6, 7

[2] Isaiah 53:3, 7

[3] Isaiah 53:5

[4] Luke 2:30-31