Mother's Day Sermon

“Jesus vs. Mom?” 5-10-17 Mother’s Day Matthew 10
For a video of this sermon along with children’s choir, click here

This is not a politically correct passage to read on Mother’s Day. Jesus’ philosophy about motherhood was to honor them but not worship them. He would say the same about kids.
In Japan if you become a Christian you are disowned by your mother and father. In some Muslim countries- notably Iran and Saudi Arabia, if you convert to Christianity, then you are not only disowned by your mother and father, you are supposed to turn the child into authorities for blaspheming the prophet Mohammed and becoming an apostate. Your child may then face the death penalty. So the person who says, families and Christian faith always go together might need to be a little more exact. There are some bad mothers in the Bible. Lot’s wife looked back longing for Sodom and Gomorrah’s riches and immorality. Her daughters gave into sexual immorality. Maacah, the queen mother, tried to teach her son Abijah, to worship fertility gods and not the God. Jezebel tried to kill Elijah who confronted the prophets of the fertility god, Baal. She was a terrible influence on her children. Athaliah tried to kill off her own family so she could be queen. In the New Testament Herodias hated John the Baptist for rebuking her for her affair with Herod, so she asked her daughter to dance before Herod and requested John’s head on a platter.
Sometimes even believing families have a hard time getting the priorities right. My own mother was a godly woman. But she when I told her I wanted to go into ministry she tried to dissuade me. She wanted me to be a doctor like my grandfather. But not only did I dislike chemistry, I wanted to be in ministry for I felt it made an eternal difference. My mother could tell Francis Burriss to be a minister, but not me. The world teaches us to hold tight to our kids and parents. Christ teaches us to honor them but know they are God’s not ours.
Jesus does care about families. In Matthew 19 Jesus confirmed the commandment to honor father and mother and pointed out that God brings man and wife together. At the cross, while he was dying, Jesus commended Mary’s care to John.
We would like to think of Jesus only bringing peace. If we worshiped and followed God the way we should, then His coming and faith in Him would only bring peace. But we might be surprised when people look on us negatively just because we go to church or say we joined the church or we are following Jesus. There are many today who are against Christ and the people who follow Him for any and every reason. One of the reasons is what Jesus listed here. There is a deep peace and purpose to families who follow Jesus together. But when families are divided over Jesus it is very difficult if we do not respect each other. Even when we disagree- Christians are still called by Christ to love and respect parents- but never to worship them or our ancestors or our government. President Trump said this yesterday at his graduation speech at Liberty University- we worship God not the government.
We should not think or say that Jesus is always for moms no matter what. God gives mothers children- He is the creator of all life and the ultimate parent. We twist things around when we think God has got to be on the side of our parents rather than parents need to be on God’s side. We worship God only. We do not worship our children. I have heard some parents talk- they are willing to give everything to their children, but they are not willing to give their children to God. If we are always letting our children decide between worship and whatever they are doing- then we are setting ourselves up for trouble. We set an example for our children when we tell them it is okay to skip worship. A mother’s task in part is to teach children about God and then gradually give the children up to God. This is a hard thing. It is hard for mothers (and fathers) to give up children to God and hard for children to give their parents to God. Perhaps that is why in this context of speaking on the priority of God over families that Jesus says, “whoever finds their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” For some of you your cross is how you are caring for your children or your parents sacrificially to bring honor to God. We show love for God by loving our children and our parents and even our brothers and sisters. So 1 John 4:12 says, “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother or sister, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
Moms have a tough time. Most mothers today are balancing work and home life and children. Many single moms are simply overwhelmed. Today 1 in 4 American children are raised in fatherless homes and 40% of those homes are below the poverty line. Mothers need God’s help, strength, hope, and grace more than ever. The church needs to be more helpful to and prayerful for the mothers who are teetering on the edge of life.
In our confessions the commandment to honor our father and mother that our days may live long in the land, is interpreted broadly. Our confessions say that the command to honor father and mother not only applies to natural parents but also to those in authority over us in work, church, and government. We are to respect people and pray for them even if we do not agree with them (and who do we agree with all the time). Children who will not listen to their parents are likely to not live as long. If the mother says don’t play with matches and don’t go out in the road, don’t do drugs, we would do well to listen to their wisdom. If a private doesn’t listen to the general the private is not in the army very long. If an employee does not listen to the employer and shows no respect, they will not work for them very long. If we refuse to listen to those in authority in government we will not function well in government.
Each day 78,100 cross the Arthur Ravenel Jr.- the bridge that spans between Mt. Pleasant and Charleston. It is two and a half miles long (4 km or 13,200 feet) and 575 feet high at one point and 186 feet off the water. It has eight twelve foot lanes of highway 17. I can remember the old bridge that had smaller lanes and two-way traffic. I used to duck down in the back seat when I was very little. They have some really nice guard rails and fences up on the edge of the new bridge. If there were no guard rails, where would people drive? Would they be driving on the outer lanes or inner ones? With no guard rails, I guarantee you only very few would drive on the outer lanes.
One of the great benefits of mothers, fathers, those over us in school- teachers and principals, those over us at work and those over us in government is they act like guard rails. We may think guard rails take away our freedom- but they really allow us to know where our boundaries are and use the very edge of the road. Honor and respect the guard rails, but do not confuse the guard rails with the journey. God alone is to be worshiped and served.
But Jesus is saying that if a parent, a boss, or government tries to usurp the place of God, we should be cautious. So Nebuchadnezzar wanted Daniel’s friends to bow down to his gold statue and they refused. They then threw them into the fire but they were not burned. Peter and John were arrested for telling about Jesus. Peter said to judge whether it is right to listen to them or listen to God. They arrested them twice more and Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
I have heard many a mother say, “I am a terrible mom.” I have heard children say, “I have been a neglectful son or daughter.” Truth is, no mother is perfect- despite what some Hallmark Cards say. No son or daughter is perfect despite what some mothers say. We all mess up- we all sin even against those we love. The Good News is not that mothers or children are perfect- that is a myth. The Good News is God has made a way for forgiveness and reconciliation so that even when we mess up there can still be hope. It is the cross of Christ. He came for terrible moms and great moms. He came for terrible kids and great kids. All people need His love and forgiveness. The greatest moms know that children are a gift and pray for their children passing on the faith to them. That faith can give them courage and hope in the tough times of life.
Hannah prayed and prayed for a son- and when one came she gave him to God. Sampson’s mother prayed that if God would give her a child she would give him back to God. Mary gave Jesus up to the cross. Our children are our greatest blessings in life besides God. To teach our children of eternal things enables us to see them for eternity.