In Luke chapter eleven, Jesus is teaching on a variety of important issues. Luke interrupts the narrative to tell us, “As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Luke 11: 27-28).
What an interesting exchange. This woman compliments Jesus indirectly through his mother. She says how wonderful it must be to be the mother of such a good boy. In essence, she says that Jesus has made his mother proud. Jesus does not respond with “Thank You.” He does not respond by saying, “Yes, she was a great and blessed mom.” His response is yes, but. What is the meaning of Jesus response?
First of all, it should not be misunderstood as a derogatory comment against his mother. Scripture is clear that Mary was indeed blessed among women. She said in chapter 1, verse 48, “for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.” That prayer is actually fulfilled in part by the comment by the woman to Jesus. The real lesson is not really about Mary at all, but is found in what Jesus says is the real blessing in life.
Jesus does not deny that his mother is blessed to bear the God-Man. How humbling it must have been for Mary to carry and raise the Messiah, but Jesus to our shock and astonishment doesn’t focus on that as the greatest blessing. Note what he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” That is truly amazing. Just think how blessed Mary was to be the mother of Jesus. Jesus says that is a small blessing compared to hearing God’s Word, who he himself is, and obeying it. So Jesus says something like, Yes Mary is blessed, but it is not merely in the fact that she is my physical mother, but the real source of her blessing is that she hears my word and obeys it. What a truth. The same thing that provided the greatest blessing to Mary is available to you and me. That is to know and trust Jesus as the living and reigning Christ.