INVISIBLE, INSPIRING, INSTRUCTING ICON
My Mother’s Day sermon is different from any other one I have preached. Always before, I was able to preach about someone who was alive at the time of the writing of the Scriptures or about someone who knew someone who was alive or served as a model for the author’s writing. Today is different. There is not one shred of evidence in the Sacred Word that the mother of whom I speak today was ever alive except we read about her children. There is no name given to this woman; no information about her is forthcoming from the Bible. We do not know where she lived, what she did for a living, who her husband was, who were her family, her lineage, etc. All we know about her is inferred from her offsprings. In spite of such limited knowledge about her, I feel there is sufficient information found in her children about which we can make some valuable deductions.
If we had just one child upon which to draw forth our supposition about her, it would be risky. Each child in every house is different and it would be hard to paint a picture of this mother by referring to just one of her children. Two children from one household will give a better assessment of the parents but even then the differences between the two issues of the mother will be skewed and the results could be at variance with the intended gathering of pertinent information. However, when we see three children from one mother and these three have similar characteristics, it can be safe to think that some parent had a definite influence upon these three people. In most cases, that parent would be the mother. Hence, it is safe to assume that the three children: Martha, Mary and Lazarus, must have had a good mother and some of these characteristics seen in these three adult children can be traced to their mother. At least this is the supposition of this sermon today.
As I study Martha, Mary and Lazarus, I think I can see the influence of a good mother and these are the things upon which I want to speak for a short time today. The first thing I note about the mother of these three friends of Jesus has to do with this mother’s IDENTITY. The next part of my sermon goes to the three children of this woman, her ISSUES, and I think I can see a well-rounded glimpse of her from her offsprings to make some valid points concerning her. The last part of my sermon then turns to the tremendous IMPACT this woman had on her children, the Bible and the times past and present.
I. IDENTITY: As I previously noted, the mother of these three good adults referred to earlier is an anomaly. Nowhere do the Scriptures even refer to her yet the impact she had on Jesus and the Christian world is phenomenal.
The first thing I note about her description is she seems to be an invisible person. One’s name is very important to each person. Without a name, we are a nobody. The name we have marks us as being different from all else. Even if our name is a common name shared by many others, i.e., Mary Smith, John Brown, etc, yet one’s name marks one as being a real person and we pass through this life with a purpose of being alive. Yet, here in my text, the three adults named had a mother who appears to be an INVISIBLE person. There is no name listed for her; we know not anything about her; we do not know anything of her heritage; nor, do we know anything of her age, the village in which she lived, her means of livelihood-nothing. She seemed to be a person yet she seems to be an invisible soul sailing under the radar of a regularly named person.
Although we know so little about her, what we can assume is that she was industrious. She had three children, at least, and these three turned out to be productive citizens. They had to see someone who was a hard worker in their past for them to be able to acquire the same habit and that person was probably their mother.
She was hard working, industrious, and ambitious. Her house was no doubt clean and neat-look at Martha and her traits of industriousness. She no doubt was a good cook, prepared meals well for her family and her neighbors-again, look at the feast given by Martha and Mary after Lazarus came back from the dead. This no-named mother of three good upstanding adults had a very good upbringing-I doubt if they did it all by themselves. They would have had to have someone in their past to show them by example how to be good people and since several of these traits occur with running a household-I surmise the one person that fits this bill was their mother.
Besides being nameless yet industrious, the mother of Martha, Mary and Lazarus was very influential upon her children. These three were devout worshippers of Jehovah and they abided by the Law of Moses. They were trained well by a devout mother. These three adults were anticipating their Messiah and this anticipation were handed down from family to family-usually by the mother. When these three people of my text did encounter Jesus, they were wise enough to recognize Him as the One about whom they had heard from their mother’s lips and embraced Him as their Messiah. By the time we meet Martha, Mary and Lazarus, their mother is evidently gone, but her godly instructions, her hard working ethos and devotion to her God and her family stayed on and influenced well her three children and the ones they came to know. She had to value family and even though these three people of my text were adults and could have been married, they remained a family in one house working together to make a home for each other just as mom made a home for them. They picked up where she stopped.
II. ISSUES: I have given the second part of my sermon, regarding this nameless mother of three upstanding adults, “Issues,” which refer not to news items or points of discussions, but to the three children to which she gave birth-the Issues of her life on this Earth. These three came from this non-descript woman and they certainly made an impact upon so many others.
The first part of these offsprings of this noble woman has to do with what I called being good Imitators of their mother. I alluded to some of these sterling qualities earlier, but a quick review is necessary to point to the fact that these three: Martha, Mary and Lazarus all were the children of this woman who is nameless. The first thing I think is that these three people saw what mom did around the house and whether she took the time to explain everything to them is not known, but these three must have saw something about their mother that helped shape them into being who they were in later life. I have a feeling they saw their mother keep a neat house and Martha carried this with her to her dying day. Martha was practical, hardworking and wanted to make sure that the home was well kept. Mary helped but Martha was the one who really wanted the best appearance for Jesus when He visited. To her, being neat and orderly was extremely important. From where did she learn this quality? I think she imitated her mother in this aspect.
Mary, too, was a hard worker, but she recognized the value of taking time off and reflecting, worshiping and was able to feed her soul first at the expense of all appearances. She retained a worshipful heart and was always ready to put Jesus first over the demands of other cares. I feel that she had to see this quality displayed in her home by her mother while growing up and imitated her parent in this regard.
Lazarus, also, had to be a good imitator of his parent because he was the one who became a true friend to the Friend of all friends. He was able to be himself around Jesus. There was no pretense to Lazarus. He was a true friend and grew in friendship with the Master. He was able to set all aside when Jesus came to the house and he went out of his way to make sure that his newfound Friend stayed his friend. Lazarus valued friendship, family and a fear of God. These qualities do not come by mere chance-I feel he saw them in his mother and adopted them for his own. These three ISSUES from one woman were qualities that showed a good, solid personality and a deep sense of worship of God and living as good citizens of this world.
Not only did these three adults learn some valuable things from their mother and later imitated her-whether consciously or subconsciously-these three also were Inclusive in their approach to life and to God. I think they saw their mother being one who accepted strangers in the home and they saw how she must have reached out to help others who needed help. I think they also saw their mother anticipating the coming of the Messiah and they had to see her worship God with the hope that the day would come when she would see Him.
When Jesus came to them, they embraced Him. They did not shun Him, but they believed in Him as their Messiah. Notice the chapter before us. When Lazarus was sick, they sent for Jesus to come and heal him-a definite belief in the power of the Messiah. When Martha saw Jesus and He asked her about the resurrection, at first she was unclear, but when Jesus told her that He was the Resurrection-she never questioned Him.
Not only did they embrace Jesus, but they also were quick to include others at a party given on behalf of the resurrection of Lazarus. Their home seemed to be a haven of rest not only for Jesus, but these three seemed to be able to include all who came their way as being welcomed. A good mother’s influence helped assure this quality in her children.
The last part of these three children being termed as ISSUES from this wonderful woman goes to what I term as being truly Inspiring people. They were the type of adults that make a neighborhood a better place. Their home was neat, tidy and clean. They worshiped regularly and welcomed the Stranger of Galilee to stay in their abode. They became staunch followers of Jesus and never turned their back upon Him or His salvation. They reached out to strangers and made the neighborhood feel that they were welcome to their home. They lived their faith in Jesus and in turn they became an inspiration to all who met them and who now read about them in the Bible. They furnished a home to Jesus and no doubt to all or some of His disciples. They were a beacon of light in a dark world of their time.
The questions remain, “How did these three become as they were?” I contend that they learned much of these qualities from their godly mother. As I stated earlier, if only one of these adults would have displayed these qualities, then it would be a different story of how one in a family turned out to be so good while others did not. However, here were three adults that had sterling qualities about them and they all came from one mother. I contend that these adults were shaped in a large part by one woman who remains invisible yet was very industrious and extremely influential to her children. This mother-of whom we know so little-did so much through her children for the Kingdom of God and for their time on this earth. Mothers-your influence will carry on for generations to come-make sure it is a good influence.
III. IMPACT: As I study the lives of the three offsprings of this wonderful woman who is so invisible to all of us, I have to conclude that the influence of her was way beyond her scope of thinking.
The first thing I have to ask myself is just how can the influence of this woman be measured? I do not think that it is possible to imagine her influence; to me, it is Immeasurable. The influence she left behind in and on her three children has reverberated down the corridors of Christian history and beyond. Even many non-Christians have heard about her children and although many may doubt the truth about Lazarus, they cannot fault Martha and Mary. These three children-her ISSUES-have left their stamp upon millions of people around the world and have done so for centuries.
The industriousness of Martha, the worshipful attitude of Mary and the close bond between Jesus and Lazarus, speaks volumes as to the inner character and strength these three people possessed and how they have influenced their world and beyond. These have to be part of the very beings of these three good people who inherited so much from their mother.
Not only is the IMPACT of this nameless woman seen via her children, I think that that the effect of her is Immortal. Somewhere in the Celestial City of God’s Heaven, I feel that the mother of Martha, Mary and Lazarus is reaping benefits, which will go on forever. Christ Himself is blessing her life, her teaching, her personality, her willingness to raise three good children who in turn accepted the Messiah for whom she longed to see. Her IMPACT upon all is beyond measure. She must have been proud and still is to know that her life helped her children to welcome Jesus into their home and to become believers in Him. Mothers, you may not leave much behind for your children, but take a page from the mother of these three people of my text and learn that money is not what will last while the endless ages of eternity roll. The writer of the Proverbs is correct; the children did raise and call their mother blest. Mothers, live for Jesus-your influence upon your children shows and will continue to show. Teach your children early about Jesus and encourage them to accept Him into their lives and home and your influence will live on for generations to come. May your children rise and call you blest because you taught your offsprings about the Christ of every crisis.
Lastly, I see the IMPACT of this nameless woman to be worthy of Imitation. It is worth the time and a lifetime of striving to imitate a lady like the mother of the three subjects of my text. Make such a life to be Imitational: something to aspire to emulate. I doubt very seriously that the times this nameless woman was cleaning up after her children did she think about what she was doing for eternity. When these three adults of my text were young, I doubt very strongly if she was aware of the imprint she made on them of her hard work around the house to make it clean and to keep it tidy. Little did she think of the times she took her children to the Temple that she was teaching them lessons about the Law and the coming Messiah. The many times she entertained strangers, family and guests, was she aware that she was teaching her children about the value of entertaining angles unaware. She did what she felt was correct and proper and taught her children lessons they never forgot.
When she took her neighbors a pot of soup because someone was sick in that household, she never thought that little eyes were watching her. The many times she told friends and family about her beliefs in Him who would come with healing in His wings, her words were being recorded in little minds. The many times she labored, wept, laughed, and still kept her faith in tact in spite of her weary and hard life, was she aware that little people were watching her. When she went to the market place and was cheated because of unjust scales, she bore it with dignity and her children marveled. The many times foreigners, mainly Romans taunted her because she was a Jewish lady, she took it and kept her faith in her coming Redeemer and little eyes watched her. The High Priest and the rabbis were always treated with utmost respect, the Sabbath was observed religiously, and little eyes watched her.
When it came her time to cross the line of worlds, she lay down and went to sleep with the firm belief that someday, yea someday, He would come and He would save His people and save the world. She taught her children well that this world is just a dressing place to get our wedding robes on correctly and make sure they fit properly because she was going to a Wedding where the Bridegroom will be to marry His Children and usher them into His Father’s presence and tell His Father, “This is my Bride.” She lived the life of righteousness the best she knew how and three little children watched and as they grew, they said, “I want to be like mom.” Oh, may all mothers live such a life that all the children in that family will want to make it their life’s goals of imitating a godly mother.
No, we do not know her, but this lady did more by accident for the kingdom of God that many so called theologians and church leaders have been able to accomplish by purpose-she lived her faith and her children picked up where she laid down her life and they continued living that life for the glory of God.
Nameless mother-you are truly blest.