MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
Take your Bibles, please, & turn with me to Luke 1:26-38. This is a passage of Scripture that is normally read at Christmas time. So I’m not sure if this is a Christmas text that we’re using on Mother’s Day, or a Mother’s Day text that we usually use at Christmas. But it will work either time, so please listen as I read Luke 1:26-38.
”In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man name Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her & said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’
“Mary was greatly troubled at his words & wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child & give birth to a son, & you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great & will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, & He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.’
“’How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, & the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, & she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.’
“’I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.”
A. I can’t think of a time when it is more difficult to be a Christian mother than today.
It seems that virtually everything is pitted against the family.
You send your kids out into a world of drugs & alcohol & gangs & pornography, & you’re almost afraid for them to get beyond the end of the driveway. You would really like to build a wall around your house & protect them from it all.
But then you realize that even though they are safely inside the walls of your house, all kinds of things are coming in. Turn on the TV & they hear language you would just as soon they not hear. They see lifestyles portrayed that you wish they were not exposed to. The world today is pretty much aligned against the family.
We used to feel that schools would reinforce what we’re teaching at home. But that is not necessarily the case now. There are certainly some good Christian educators who are trying to reinforce family values.
But for the most part, when our children go to school, they are taught that the world just evolved by accident; that the Bible is just a collection of myths; that abortion is an acceptable alternative to an unwanted pregnancy. They learn all kinds of worldly & humanistic things that we would just as soon they not learn.
Then, on top of that, society seems to be tearing down the importance of mother-hood. We’re told that women who choose to stay at home with their children are second-class citizens because they “haven’t reached their full potential in life.”
ILL. Tony Campolo says that his wife is a brilliant woman. She has a PHD & is capable of pursuing a very profitable career. But she elected to stay home with her children when they were young. Her decision didn’t bother her at all except when other women would ask, “What do you do?” She would answer, “I’m a homemaker. I stay home & take care of my children & my husband.” They would usually respond with “Oh” & then ignore her from then on.
So Mrs. Campolo came up with this response when she was asked what she did: “I’m socializing two Homo-sapiens in Judeo-Christian values so they’ll appropriate the eschatological values of utopia. What do you do?” They would often blurt out “I’m a doctor” or “I’m a lawyer” & then wander off with a dazed look in their eyes.
With the value of motherhood being demeaned, it seems that a responsibility of the church is to lift up motherhood once again the way God would want it lifted up.
B. Then there is the breakdown of the family. We see more & more marriages breaking
apart, more & more children living with single parents. In fact, it is estimated that by the time a child reaches 18 today, only 2 in 5 will still be living with both biological parents.
There are so many things today that seem to tear down the meaning & importance
of family & motherhood & parenting.
PROP. So let’s look at Mary as a model of motherhood. She had some difficulties, too. In fact, let’s note some of the difficulties & resources Mary experienced in trying to be a good mother to her family.
I. MARY HAD SOME DIFFICULTIES THAT SHE EXPERIENCED
A. First of all, Mary had to deal with a negative reputation. Now we know that the child
Mary bore was conceived of God. We understand that. But almost no one else did. Only Joseph, after the angel had revealed it to him, accepted that story.
The rest of the community would not accept it. And I think you can understand why.
Here in this little town of Nazareth, tongues must have been wagging, & gossip rampant. “There’s Mary. She’s pregnant & she’s not married.”
Years later on, in the 8th chapter of the Gospel of John, when Jesus was being confronted by religious leaders, they pointed at Him & said, “We are not illegitimate children,” indicating that even as Jesus grew into adulthood He was perceived as an illegitimate child. So Mary had to deal with a negative reputation.
APPL. Some mothers have that in their past today. And their children may throw it up to them. “Well, you were pregnant before you were married, so who are you to lecture us on morality?” Or, “You’ve been married & divorced 3 times, so who are you to talk to us about the sanctity of marriage?” Or, “You were a real party animal when you were young, so who are you to tell us what time we should come home at night?”
That’s difficult to deal with. But it’s not impossible. In fact, it presents an opportunity for teaching our children that as Christians we’re saved by God’s grace, & He has forgiven us of our past sins. And we’re not going to repeat them. That’s why we’re teaching our children not to repeat them either.
B. Mary also had to deal with poverty. Everything in the Bible indicates that Mary &
Joseph were poor. Jesus, the Son of God, was born in a barn, wrapped in swaddling cloths, & laid in a manger – a very meager beginning. And all through His life we’re reminded of the poverty that is there.
APPL. Maybe, as a mother today, you’re feeling financial pressures, you’re not able to give your child everything other children get. Maybe you feel it’s not fair that you can’t buy $200 tennis shoes & designer clothes for your child. And there’s pressure to go into debt to make sure your child gets everything everybody else’s child gets.
I encourage you to resist that temptation & use the opportunity to teach important lessons. Our children need to learn that the most valuable things in life money can’t buy. And the things you spend lots of money on only last for a while, & then are gone.
ILL. Jean Baron writes in Readers Digest about the old mobile home where she lived with her teen-age son. She said, “The home was structurally unsound, & the plumbing always leaked.” She was ashamed when her son brought friends home because of their meager surroundings.
But one day she learned that her son’s best friend, who had all the material things anyone could want, had run away from home. She said, “I was puzzled, so I asked my son why.” He explained, “Well, mom, at their house they had a lot of environment but not very much love. Here, we have lots of love, but not very much environment.”
C. Then Mary had to face the fact that people hated her child. When He was born,
King Herod tried to kill Him. Mary & Joseph had to flee into Egypt where they lived as strangers just in order to protect Him from the forces of evil.
APPL. I think it is time for us to take some steps to protect our children from the Evil One, too. That may mean turning off the TV & monitoring their usage of the internet. That may mean checking what your children are being taught at school & countering any bad influences by making sure they get plenty of Christian training & influence.
Most certainly we need to discipline & train our children to respect adults & to respect authority. I know that’s counter-culture, but parents need to realize that these are dangerous times for kids. We need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect them.
D. Then Mary had to raise her children as a single mom. We know that Joseph was
with her at least until Jesus was 12 when Joseph & Mary took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. But after that we never hear of Joseph again.
APPL. There are a lot of single parents today. And I want to say to you single moms, & dads too, “You are the unsung heroes of the church.” I mean that from the depths of my heart. If you are a victim of divorce, or if you have lost a mate & are left with children you must raise alone, you are the unsung heroes of the church.
You work all week & come home exhausted. But you get your kids up on Sunday morning, wash their faces, put them in their best clothes, & bring them to church because you want more than anything else for them to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. My hat is off to you. You are the unsung heroes of the church.
E. Then finally, Mary had to deal with a child that was rejected & abused. I think that
was one of the hardest things that we do as parents.
ILL. A friend of mine says, “I can remember when my son came home crying because no one would eat lunch with him in the lunchroom. I wanted to go to school & beat those kids to within an inch of their lives. And every time I saw one of my children rejected or left out, I hurt more than they did.” So you can imagine how Mary must have hurt as she saw Jesus being rejected.
ILL. Jerry Clower, a comedian whose size would make you think he is a professional football player, says that his son was the field goal kicker for his high school football team. One day his son had a chance to kick the goal that would give his team the lead & maybe even win the game, but the kick went wide of the goal.
A man about 4 rows from where Jerry Clower was sitting jumped up & began heckling loudly. “Who is that kicker anyway? He couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a football.” And he went on & on, ridiculing Jerry’s son.
Clower said, “I took all of it I could, & then I made my way through the crowd, sat down next to that guy, looked him right in the eye, & said, ‘You need to thank Jesus that you’re still alive.” The guy said, “What do you mean?” Clower answered, “That’s my son you’re ridiculing, & the only reason you’re not dead right now is because I’m a Christian & Jesus won’t let me kill you.”
It’s pretty tough, isn’t it, to see your children abused? Simeon told her, “A sword will pierce your soul.” Mary must have felt that when they hurled these accusations at Him: “He’s demon possessed. He’s guilty of blasphemy. He’s crazy. He’s a drunkard.” And can you imagine the pain she felt as she watched Jesus crucified on Calvary’s Hill?
II. MARY ALSO HAD SOME RESOURCES THAT HELPED HER
Well, Mary also had some resources that helped her in being a model mother. Here are some of them:
A. First of all, she was doing God’s will. Vs. 38 says, “’I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary
answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’”
There is something reassuring in knowing that you’re acting in harmony with the will of God. Everything else may be falling apart, but if you know that you’re doing what God wants you to do, there’s something very reassuring about that.
ILL. James Keller said, “Every mother has the breath taking privilege of sharing with God in the creation of a new life. She helps bring into existence a soul that will last for all eternity.”
Mothers, realize that your greatest responsibility as a mother is to raise your child to know Jesus Christ, & to accept Him as Lord & Savior so he or she can live for all eternity with Him. If you succeed there, you’re successful.
And you’re responsible - not the babysitter, not the nanny, not the schoolteacher - you are responsible for the soul of your child. There is something very special about knowing you’re in harmony with God’s will.
B. Secondly, Mary had a supportive husband for at least 12 years. One of the finest
things we can do, men, is to support our wives. Let them know we love them & are behind them & will support them in virtually every decision they make.
ILL. Willard Harley in his book, “His Needs, Her Needs” points out that both husbands & wives have needs in their relationship. He says that her needs are these: First of all, she needs affection, someone who will treat her with great tenderness. Secondly, she needs conversation, the sharing of the heart.
Thirdly, she needs honesty & openness. Don’t keep secrets from her. Fourthly, she needs security, both physical & financial. Fifthly, she needs relational commitment. She needs to know that she is the absolute priority in the relationship.
ILL. Jack Benny was rather shy when he was young. One day at work he saw a young lady that greatly attracted his attention. But he was too shy to speak to her. So he went to the florist & ordered one red rose to be sent to her without any card enclosed. And every day he repeated that order.
Well, after 4 days of receiving one red rose each day, the young lady went to the florist & asked who was sending them. The florist told her that it was some guy who worked where she did by the name of Jack Benny. “Yeah,” she said, “I think I know who he is.”
So she searched Jack out & asked him why he was sending her those roses. He told her that he wanted to ask her out, & she accepted his invitation. And other dates followed that first one. But still, every day, she continued to receive one red rose.
Then Jack & Mary got engaged, & Mary figured that the red roses would stop. But still they came. Finally, they were married, & even on the honeymoon she continued to receive one red rose each day. But once the honeymoon was over, she figured that the roses would stop.
But month after month, then year after year, all their married life, every day without fail she received a red rose. Finally, Jack Benny died. But the very next day, here came another red rose. Thinking that maybe the florist somehow hadn’t heard, she called to tell him of Jack’s death & that he could now stop sending the roses.
He answered, “But you don’t understand. Before he died, Jack made all the arrangements. You’ll receive one red rose every day for the rest of your life.”
Men, if you start showing your wife some attention, she may not know how to react. But spend the time & effort, & it will mean far more than you’ll ever imagine.
C. Finally, Mary had a close, understanding friend. She went to Elizabeth, a relative,
years older than Mary. But they had similar experiences because Elizabeth was also expecting a child, & her child was also a miraculous birth because she was past the age of childbearing. So Elizabeth served as an encourager to Mary during a difficult time.
APPL. I’m convinced, with marriages breaking apart, that there is a tremendous need for the extended family. We’re seeing more & more the value of the roles that aunts & uncles & grandparents are playing in raising children. And that extended family could also include the church.
We’re brothers & sisters, & in Jesus we’re all a part of the same family. So look around, there may be somebody here who really needs a word of encouragement.
Maybe there is an older woman here who could put her arm around a younger woman & say, “I know things are tough for you, & I want you to know I’m here for you. Is there anything I can do that would be of help?”
Or maybe you can call someone up & say, “Hey, why don’t I baby sit for you this week, so you & your husband can have an evening out?” Wouldn’t it be great if we could begin to be the extended family?
Maybe that’s the reason the writer of Hebrews said, “Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together.” We really need each other. The church needs to be that kind of fellowship as we become an extended family for each other.
SUM. Well, Mary was rewarded. She was there when Jesus was raised from the dead. She was among the 120 when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. She saw her other children accept Jesus as Messiah. And today she is in heaven as part of His kingdom.
CONCL. Mother’s Day may be a tough day for some of you. I’ve not always been sensitive to that because I’ve generally thought of it as a happy day. But I do realize for some that is not necessarily so. If your mother is dead, it may be a sad day for you. You have memories of her, & you long once again for her words & her presence.
If you’re childless, then you may feel empty today. If you had a poor relationship with your mother, spending your time arguing & fighting with each other, you may feel guilty today.
Or if you have rebellious children who have rejected your prayers & teaching, you may feel like a failure today, or that you have disappointed God.
The good news is that the Bible talks not just about imperfect earthly families & how we can help them. But the Bible also talks about the eternal family. One day we will be with God who is our heavenly Father. One day we will be with Jesus. One day we will be a part of the great family of God in the place that God has prepared for us through Jesus Christ. And there we’ll live with Him for all eternity.
In the meantime, we need to do everything we can to make our families the best they can be to the glory of God. So this morning, if you’re here & outside of Jesus Christ, we extend His invitation, & we pray that you will respond to the love of Christ, expressed through His death & His burial & His resurrection. We invite you to come as we stand & as we sing.