Summary: Motherhood is full of laughter and tears. A look at one of the favorite mothers in the Bible makes this very clear.
2 Timothy 1:3-7 Reading
Have you seen the play, Fiddler on the Roof? At one point Tevea’s oldest daughter is getting married and Tevea and Golden sing a song in the background. The last chorus refrain says, “Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, swiftly fly the years. One season following another, laden with happiness, and tears.”
I’ve been praying for the Lord to give me a lesson for this Mother’s Day, and those words came to mind. For most of us, they well describe the seasons of marriage and motherhood… “Laden with happiness, and tears.” I remember the births of each of my children. I was there with Jenny and the doctor and nurse when each was born. I know that motherhood begins with pain, just as Jesus said, “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to a child, she no longer remembers the anguish, because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.” John 16:21 I have seen those words fulfilled. Jesus promise in this context is for us. He says that we will have grief and sorrow in this world, there are seasons laden with tears down here. But Jesus calls us to rejoice in this, he has overcome the world, and he will return for us, and when he does, he will wipe away all tears.
Today is Mother’s Day and for today, let us listen and learn lessons from one of many mothers in the Bible. You’ll guess who she is easily.
She was born in obscurity. We don’t know the names of her parents. She had a very common name that spoke of the times. Her name means bitter, which describes the lives of her people under Roman rule and oppression. She was betrothed to a carpenter when she was probably between 14-17 years old. She had an older cousin who got pregnant after child bearing age through the promise of God to her husband. After this cousin was six months pregnant, God sent his messenger, Gabriel, to her to announce an astounding message to her. She, a virgin, was to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and give birth to the Son of God. Luke records the event:
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth,
27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And coming in, he said to her, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you."
29 But she was greatly troubled at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be.
30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.
31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
32 "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;
33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end."
34 And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"
35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God.
36 "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.
37 "For nothing will be impossible with God."
38 And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word."
What do you think of Mary here? Isn’t she precious? Can’t you just see this little young lady bowing before the great angel Gabriel and hearing that she is favored by God and that she is to become the mother of the King whose kingdom will never end, and who is to be called the Son of God.
You’ve got to love her question. How? And her response to Gabriel’s answer. "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word."
This season was laden with happiness. She immediately traveled to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and when she arrives they both celebrate! Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 is a song of joy and happiness in God’s blessing.
There is no way this little Jewish maiden could foresee all the tears that would follow.
First, there was the trouble convincing Joseph of her chastity. God had to do it for her. Then there’s the long trip to Bethlehem in her ninth month of pregnancy only to arrive and find no room. So Jesus is born where the animals gather and is placed in a manger for a bed. After Jesus was born, they take him to the temple, and Simeon comes to see the baby. He takes Jesus in his arms and says a sweet blessing, but then he looks at Mary and says these haunting words: 34… "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,