A Reading from Scripture Luke 1:26-38 26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
One day that the Lord came to Adam and said, “Adam, I’m going to make you a helper. I’m going to make you a partner – a wife.” And Adam said, “Lord, what’s a wife?” And the Lord said, “Well, a wife is going to be someone like you, but not just like you… very different from you. She’s going to be beautiful and she’s going to be soft and tender and loving and wonderful. When you come home in the evening from working hard in the fields all day, your wife is going to meet you there, Adam, with your slippers, and the remote control to the television and a wonderful meal will be waiting… the smell of it will be through the house, and she’s going to attend to your every need. She’s just going to love you. When you awaken in the morning, you’re going to smell bacon and eggs cooking, and it’s going to be a great day and every day’s going to be a great day because she’s just going to make sure that your life is absolutely perfect, Adam. You’re going to be glad that you have a wife.” And Adam said, “Well, Lord, that sounds wonderful! But that sounds expensive! How much is that going to cost me?” And the Lord said, “Well, Adam, that’s going to cost you an arm and a leg.” And Adam said, “Well, what can I get for just a rib?”
Now God created male and female. And it didn’t happen just like that, but it did happen.
And God had a perfect plan and design for all people and that is that he created us male and female. And the distinctiveness and the differences between the genders… the sexes are a remarkable thing! Thanks be to God!
It’s a good thing, it’s a God thing! And above all, in the book of Proverbs 31 God’s Word would say of the woman… the priceless, valued woman… that her price is far above rubies. You can’t buy… you can’t purchase at any price a godly wife, a godly mother, a godly woman who gives herself in living for Jesus Christ and devotes herself to Christ, His church and to the family of faith.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? But there is more!
Marianne was getting her son, Kevin, ready for bed on the eve of his fifth birthday. She was trying to communicate that birthday idea to him. “Kevin,” she said, “this is the last night of your fourth year. Do you understand that?” Kevin was ready to communicate with his hands. For a full year, he had shown people four fingers for his four years, and now he was ready to add a thumb. Seeing his four fingers, his mother nodded, and said: “When you go to sleep tonight, you’ll still be 4-years-old. But do you know how old you’ll be in the morning, when you wake up?” Kevin nodded enthusiastically, added his thumb to his four little fingers and said, “Tomorrow, I’ll be a handful!”
For all the mothers who have had their hands full, we celebrate Mother’s Day.
What a wonderful thing that God’s Word has so many messages just for moms, has messages especially for parents, for moms, dads, and grandparents. There are also those who will one day have a new name – mother or father and join the company of parents, and there are also single adults who will have such profound influence on our homes. I am certain that as the Scripture for this morning was read, you thought that I had jumped to Christmas time and not Mother’s Day.
History’s most famous mother was called by God to her task of caring for the Christ Child, just as parents today are called by God to their task of parenting. When Mary was only a teen-ager, she was confronted with the challenge to be completely submitted to God’s will. When the angel Gabriel gave Mary the angelic message that she was to carry the Christ Child, Mary was stunned. “How could this be?” — Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph – and in those days an engagement was the next step to marriage – and even Scripture explains how Joseph responded to the message — absolute confusion.
The key phrase in today’s Scripture is– “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” Mary never wavered from her complete submission to God’s will.Was she nervous? Certainly. Was she unsure of her own abilities? Who wouldn’t be? Was she anxious about the prophecy that part of her future would include pain? Of course.
Mary was a little like the mother who sits up late at night, far past her bedtime, waiting for the daughter to return home from her date. Mary was like the father who said the silent, heart-felt prayer as he watched his son drive away from the house for the first time, taking all those raw male instincts into streets of great danger. Mary was like any parent in this room, who wanted only the best, only the most protection, for her child … and fully aware that life happens, and not all of life is pleasant.
But Mary was unlike a lot of parents in the world today. Mary was first of all completely committed to God. She was so committed to God; she had no room for commitment to anything else. And that made her a mother worth imitating. A godly mother does not have to be perfect, but a godly mother is a mother first. This is great news!
Dr. Benjamin Carson, renowned surgeon at Johns Hopkins, tells a moving story about his mother. Mrs. Carson insisted that Ben and his brother Curtis write a book report every couple of weeks. This wasn’t for school – this was for their mom. Ben and Curtis dutifully obeyed. About the time he was in junior high, Ben finally realized something quite shocking. His mom couldn’t read. For years Ben had read books and scratched out reports, assuming that his mom was checking every word. But she didn’t have a clue what he was saying.
Now consider this: Raised by an illiterate mother, Ben grew up to be a world-famous surgeon who was featured in many articles and was the author of several books. His illiterate mom didn’t twist her hands over her lack of learning and give up hope of raising intelligent boys. Instead, she gave her boys what she had – interest, accountability, and the courage to demand extra work. (Gifted Hands, 1990, Ben Carson).
Even though she was the mother of Jesus, Mary did not question her role as mother.
In the second chapter of the Gospel of John, when Jesus performed his first miracle, Mary’s conversation with Jesus is the most unusual part of the water-turned-into-wine story. A part we always seem to overlook. According to the story, Jesus was invited to one of these week-long wedding receptions. I would like to say his invitation came because Jesus was the party guy. His invitation came because Jesus was a respected rabbi. It is while Jesus is at this reception that the unthinkable happens. The wine runs out. The hosts of the reception are devastated and look for someone to blame. Mary doesn’t look for the guilty person who did not plan far enough ahead. Mary looked at Jesus. She knew Jesus had the power to save the day. She believed in Jesus when Jesus didn’t believe in himself.
She knew it was time for Jesus to get started. God had a special plan for her son. The problem is, Jesus wasn’t ready.
In verse four, we find Jesus making an excuse for his inactivity, “My time has not yet come.” Mary does not listen. Instead, she instructs servants to bring him water. By the end of the scene, the party has resumed, and everyone is happy. Everyone had enough wine. Verse ten tells us, it was good wine. What does that mean? It means the wine Jesus produced had a kick.
However, today is not about wine. Today is about the important role of motherhood.
Motherhood does not end when the child starts school or learns how to drive. Motherhood is a never-ending job. Motherhood always has unfinished business.
Look at the story about the wedding at Canna and about the wine. Jesus was thirty years old, and he still needed his mother.
Don’t fool yourself, regardless of your children’s age or station in life, your children still need you. Jesus said to Mary, “Woman (notice –not “Mother”!), why do you involve me?” It’s not my time! Think of the awkwardness of this situation. Mary’s request and conversation with Jesus appears to be out of line with what Jesus was ready to do. Though Jesus performed the miracle, there’s a feeling that he did so in part because his mother put him on the spot.
Here is another example of Mary exercising her role as mother: Jesus was speaking to a group of His disciples when someone said that His mother and brothers were outside and asking to speak to Him (Matt 12:46). Typically, you would think that most people would excuse themselves and say, “I’ll be right back. My mother wants to speak to Me,” but Jesus is not typical in any way. Instead of stopping and going outside to talk with His mother and brothers, who came seeking to talk with Him, He turns this question into another question to the man who told Him this. He asks a question: Who is My mother and who are My brothers (Matt 12:48)?
Jesus certainly isn’t speaking about His biological mother or His brothers, who were really His half-brothers since they were related only by their mother. He is talking about those who believe in Him, and by believing in Him, they do what He asks. Jesus is not being disrespectful or rude to His mother or His brothers. Perhaps, after He said this, He went outside to speak with them. These verses don’t say that He totally ignored her either. We can’t read into the text what is not there.
What we see in these two examples is the human side of Mary – the emotions and the desire to still be involved in her Son’s life. We all desire this and sometimes it is difficult to engage our adult children.
Think now about Mary at the foot of the cross: Mary didn’t stand stoically and passively by at the foot of the cross, as if she were already made out of stained glass. She crumpled at the cross. She fell down to the depths there, moaning and wailing and begging the God of heaven to stop her hell on earth. The cross cut deeply into Mary’s heart. Despite the pain, however, Mary was there. She was a mother from the beginning, and a mother at the end.
A godly mother never relinquishes the title. You’ll find mothers like that in the halls of children’s hospitals, in funeral homes and in the counselors’ offices. Mothers never relinquish the title, even if the child is rebellious, harsh, or cruel. Her heart just will not allow it.
When a woman becomes a mother, when a man becomes a father, there is an instant realization that the day will almost certainly come when pain dominates the picture. The crosses are different for every family, but frankly, the crosses usually come. There may be a divorce, or disease, or death. There may be harsh words, and unacceptable actions.
There may be tough love, and impossible nights. Through it all, godly mothers never relinquish the title. There is nothing like a mother’s love. Mary had a chance to see God’s entire plan played out. She suffered through the crucifixion, celebrated the resurrection, and even was part of the small group that witnessed the powerful presentation of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14).
What a gift from God, to live long enough for parenting to make sense! Some parents live long enough to see God’s plan for their children. Some see God working in the lives of their grandchildren. Some surely only see God’s plan from the halls of heaven.
The children of Family Circus, a cartoon that we see in the papers, were once discussing babies. One of the young experts announced: “Storks don’t bring babies. They come UPS.”
Some of the other children had different ideas, but the best was saved for last. “Babies,” said one, “are connected to their mothers by a biblical cord.” How true!
Thanks be to God!