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Mother's Day

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My Mother taught me about ANTICIPATION:

"Just wait until your father gets home."


My Mother taught me LOGIC:

"Because I said so, that's why."


"If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."


My Mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE:

"If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."


My Mother taught me ESP:

"Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you're cold?"


My Mother taught me HUMOR:

"When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."


My Mother taught me about JUSTICE:

"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you. Then you'll see what it's like."


My mother taught me RELIGION:

"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."


My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL:

"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"


My mother taught me FORESIGHT:

"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."


My mother taught me IRONY:

"Keep crying and I'll *give* you something to cry about."


My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS:

"Shut your mouth and eat your supper!"


My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM:

"Will you *look* at the dirt on the back of your neck!"


1.   The Power of a  Mother’s Love


When the king ape released the limp form which had been John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, he turned his attention toward the little cradle; but Kala was there before him, and when he would have grasped the child she snatched it herself, and before he could intercept her she had bolted through the door and taken refuge in a high tree.


As she took up the little live baby of Alice Clayton she dropped the dead body of her own into the empty cradle; for the wail of the living had answered the call of universal motherhood within her wild breast which the dead could not still.


High up among the branches of a mighty tree she hugged the shrieking infant to her bosom, and soon the instinct that was as dominant in this fierce female as it had been in the breast of his tender and beautiful mother--the instinct of mother love--reached out to the tiny man-child's half-formed understanding, and he became quiet.


Then hunger closed the gap between them, and the son of an English lord and an English lady nursed at the breast of Kala, the great ape.

This is the beginning of Tarzan’s experience with the apes who raised him.  If this mother ape hadn’t cared for him, he would have been killed.  There is no disrespect ladies, as we think about motherhood in this context.  Probably the opposite.  It is such a powerful force that seems to be built into the order of the universe by God himself.  The same protective force that drove Mary and Joseph to live in Egypt in order to protect the Christ child from the maniac who ruled Palestine.

Tarzan's grief and anger were unbounded. He roared out his hideous challenge time and again. He beat upon his great chest with his clenched fists. And then he fell upon the body of Kala and sobbed out the pitiful sorrowing of his lonely heart. To lose the only creature in all one's world who ever had manifested love and affection for one is a great bereavement indeed. What though Kala was a fierce and hideous ape! To Tarzan she had been kind, she had been beautiful. Upon her he had lavished, unknown to himself, all the reverence and respect and love that a normal English boy feels for his own mother. He had never known another, and so to Kala was given, though mutely, all that would have belonged to the fair and lovely Lady Alice had she lived.

I’d like to think together this morning about the impact of heaven’s chosen mother on the Son that she shared with God himself.  It was undeniable to the very end of his life on earth.


Look at the scripture with me this morning.


25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27 (NIV)[1]


Jesus endured the agony of the cross and when the work was done – when he had suffered sufficiently, when the last of my sin was atoned for, he breathed out three beautiful words.  They were the kinds of words that one would expect from an artist who had just completed a masterpiece pleasing to his own critical eye.  Can’t you see the master painter stepping back to gain perspective and saying those words, “It is finished.”


There was nothing beautiful there on the stark brow of Golgotha, widswept and bare.  Probably a favorite execution ground.  But what he did there was a masterpiece indeed.


Do you get edgy when the pressure mounts?  I do.  These are the times when I think little of other people and tend to get wrapped up in the importance of things from my own perspective.  When you look around at the obstacles that you are facing are there times when you don’t want to hear someone else’s problems?   There are for me.  Or when you’ve heard one of those situations where someone else’s circumstance is so dark and desperate and they have no complaint.  In the midst of their pain they minister to you.  They’re not blaming anyone, least of all God.  You walk away feeling guilty for the times you’ve complained over things so small.


Perhaps one of the greatest evidences of God at work in a human being is that they never become so self-absorbed in their pleasure or their pain that they forget about the state of other people.


It would certainly be understandable for Christ.  He came knowingly to suffer and to die for you and me.  You have to wonder if he really knew just how much it would hurt.  He became the object of God’s wrath as the sentence for my sin and yours was carried out on Him.  How could even God know the pain until he clothed himself with flesh and stretched himself out on a rough cross?  Truly he did not deserve what he received.  There was nothing that he said that would indicate to us that this mattered to him.


He Will Carry You

There is no problem too big, God cannot solve it.
There is no mountain too tall, He cannot move it.
There is no storm too dark, God cannot calm it.
There is no sorrow too deep, He cannot soothe it.

If He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders,
I know my brother, that He will carry you.
If He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders,
I know my sister, that He will carry you.

He said, "Come unto me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest."

-Scott Wesley Brown

In the midst of his darkest hour on planet earth, Jesus rises above his agony to make sure that his mother would be taken care of.  Just before he uttered the words, “It is finished.” he stopped to specifically love His dear mother.  She was his most significant connection with the physical world that he was about to leave.  As His physical life was draining from His earthly body he arrests his timeless work, a work prophesied through ages and sages to give direct attention to the one most blessed among women.  And for that moment she is the most important object of his affection, son to mother.  Not Savior to sinner but a young boy loving His mother for all that she had been to Him.  I think that this is a beautiful picture placed here in the crucifixion narrative.  It ought to tug at all off our hearts today because we have all been mothered or are mothers.  And as Jesus in process of securing our salvation honored His mother so we take a few moments today to do the same.

I’d like to suggest a couple of things that may be worth our consideration on this Mother’s Day.

Perhaps the experience of being “mothered” was as unanticipated to Christ as the cross.  It wasn’t that He didn’t know what a mother was, but to actually be “mothered” is something that he did not know by experience.  How could God himself be mothered? 

Jesus knew that He would die on a cross but He did not foreknow the pain of taking the sins of the world on His own shoulders and suffering heaven’s wrath as he became sin for us.  How cruel could the cross actually be?

2.   Mary was His greatest admirer.

She loved Him as a mother but she worshipped Him as someone sent from God.  She knew this before anyone else did.  There was no doubt in Mary’s mind – ever as to who this child was.  But that mother thing occasionally kicked into gear and I am sure that she wondered whether He belonged most to God or most to her.

She was the one who knew his entire story from the cradle to the cross.  She had loved him without a skip or a stutter.  She might not have always understood perfectly that he was God incarnate but she never forgot that she was his mother and he, her son.  And that was her job, to “mother” God.  She knew everything and she told her story here and there I am sure.  She alone knew the details of the angelic visit.  She alone felt the stinging rejection of her family, pregnant before she was married, vulnerable to the law that would have allowed Joseph to put her away publicly or privately as he had in mind to do until he too was visited by the same heavenly messenger.

Because of this pregnancy she spent two years in exile in Egypt, hiding from Herod.  Warned again by an angel but she knew what an angel sounded like by now and she had sensitivity enough to listen.

She reacted as she should have when on the way home from Jerusalem they discovered that Jesus was missing.  She found him in the temple, oblivious to the fact that his parents were gone without him.  He felt somehow at home in the temple, I think.  It smacked of the eternal.

41 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. 43 After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Luke 2:41-50 (NIV)[2]

You see, I don’t think it was Mary’s place to understand what was happening here.  I think that she reacted as she should have.

She had concerns at times about the way that His ministry was taking shape.

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:20-21 (NIV)[3]

She had to accept the fact that Jesus mission made him less accessible than he had been at one time.  It wasn’t always easy for her to get close to her son – there was a period of time when there was always a crowd in he way.  I don’t think that she liked it but she lived with it and never stopped loving and adoring her son.

46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”a 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:46-50 (NIV)[4]

I’d like to suggest this morning that this role is still a primary one for mothers today.  A mother’s work is never done.  You can’t retire from those responsibilities.  And every mother does it just a bit differently than the other.

You provide a “presence” in the lives of your children that is invaluable.  When your children are younger it is more energy intensive, I think.  There are times when no one but Mom will do.  And the role changes as the kids grow and change themselves.  The transitions are as difficult for the mother as they are for the children.

Like other mothers, I am sure that Mary had many memories and images stored in her mind.  She saw how the unfolding plan in the life of her son was taking him on a path that was threatening and ominous.  There were times when she would have turned the clock backward.  If she could she would have taken him back into hiding and seclusion to protect his life.

To us that may seem “unspiritual” - as much as Peter’s tendency to want to protect Jesus from himself.  I would say that it was normal, natural, and desirable.  There are mothers here today who are naturally protective.  This is normal and right and it needs to be surrendered to God as well.  Because mothers like Mary soon learn that they cannot keep their children from pain.  Pain becomes the chisel for soul sculpting.  In faithful hands it brings a beauty otherwise unrealized.

And so Mary followed her son as much as anyone else followed him.  Sometimes she was close and other times in the distance but always following – right to the end.

3.   Her role as a parent was driven by her relationship with God.

It was that relationship, in my mind that sustained her through the whole unorthodox process of birthing the Messiah.  So many stories sound so glorious until we are in the middle of them ourselves.  To be chosen to bear the Son of God!  To be visited by an angel with the pronouncement of her blessing.  What an honor!

What a responsibility!

I read the other day that if anyone could have “aborted” the mission, Mary could have done so.  She could have rescued him from the Roman cross merely by saying that Jesus was the son of a carpenter named Joseph.  He was not the son of God but the flesh and blood offspring of a pre-marital union with a carpenter from Nazareth.

I believe that her love for God shaped her ability to parent His Son.  I believe for every mother here today, that your love for God should shape the way that you parent your children.  This is honoring and glorifying to God.

It will shape the dream seeds that you plant early in their lives.  You can scatter seeds of aspiration to greatness as the primary ones and your children who love you will strive to please you.  They will believe that the most important thing to you is that they educate themselves sufficiently and that they achieve something that will make you proud.

You can impress upon them that they need or are entitled to a beautiful home that must be perpetually spotless, a showpiece.  And if they think that this is the most important thing to you they will crucify themselves to get it.

Or you could teach them that first and foremost, the most important thing is to hear and understand the very heart of God.  You could teach them that it is in the intimacy of relationship to the heart of God that they will discover the things that will bring them the greatest fulfillment in life.  You could teach them that to honor and please God is the thing that would bring you the greatest pleasure.  You could surrender them to their Creator and then become their greatest fan as you watch God’s plan unfold in their lives.

I think that Mary generally was able to do this.  I don’t think that she did it faultlessly but this was the pattern.

Making mistakes does not mean that you are less than the mother that God would have you to be – it just reminds us that we are human and that God must compensate for our weakness.  And He does.


[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[3]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

a  Some manuscripts do not have verse 47.

[4]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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