Summary: The critical question is not: Is your spiritual father Abraham? Rather the critical question is: Is your spiritual mother Sarah or Hagar?
A. How many of you are familiar with the children’s book “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman?
1. It has been one of my favorite books since I was a child.
B. “Are You My Mother?” is the story about a hatchling bird.
1. His mother, thinking her egg will be fine in her nest where she left it, leaves her egg alone and flies off to find food.
2. The baby chick hatches while she is gone.
3. He does not understand where his mother is so he goes to look for her.
4. In his search, he asks a kitten, a hen, a dog, and a cow if they are his mother. They each say, “No.”
5. Then he sees an old car, which cannot be his mother for sure.
6. In desperation, the baby chick calls out to a boat and a plane, and at last, convinced he has found his mother, he climbs onto the teeth of an enormous power shovel.
7. A loud “SNORT” belches from its exhaust stack, prompting the bird to utter the immortal line, “You are not my mother! You are a SNORT!”
8. But as the power shovel shudders and grinds into motion the baby chick cannot escape. “I want my mother!” he shouts.
9. But at this climactic moment, his fate is suddenly reversed.
10. The shovel drops him back in his nest just as his mother is returning home.
11. The two are united, much to their delight, and the baby bird tells his mother all about the adventure he had looking for her.
C. You might be wondering “why in the world would David start this sermon with a children’s story of a bird wondering who is his mother?”
1. The reason is because in today’s Scripture section from Galatians 4:21-31, Paul tells the tale of two mothers to illustrate two different paths that people take in trying to find salvation.
2. Paul took the familiar story of Hagar and Sarah, whose sons are Ishmael and Isaac respectively, and drew from it basic truths about the Christian’s relationship to the Law of Moses.
3. The events described actually happened, but Paul uses them as an allegory, which is a narrative that has a deeper meaning behind it.
4. Perhaps the most famous allegory in the English language is John Bunyan’s A Pilgrim’s Progress, in which Bunyan traces a character named Christian’s experiences from the City of Destruction to heaven.
5. In an allegory, persons and actions represent hidden meanings, so that the narrative can be read on two levels: the literal and the symbolic.
D. Paul’s use of this story from Genesis as an allegory does not give us license to find “hidden meanings” in all the events of the Old Testament.
1. If we take that approach to the Bible, we can make it mean almost anything we want.
2. This is the way that many false teachings arise.
3. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to employ this Old Testament story to teach a New Testament truth through this allegory, but we must not take such liberties on our own.
4. We must always interpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament, and where the New Testament gives us permission, we may search for hidden meanings.