A mother walked into her young son’s bedroom just in time to hear him begin his nighttime prayers. He said, “Andy, please forgive me for what I did wrong today, and Andy, please keep my mommy and daddy safe.”After he had finished, she asked him who Andy was. He told her that was God’s name. She asked him how he knew that, and he said that in church they sang to Andy. They would sing, “Andy walks with me – Andy talks to me…”
Today is Mother’s Day. It is the day we honor our mothers and the mother’s of our children. My mom is a very special lady who taught me many things.
My mom taught me to appreciate a job well done. She would say to my sister and I,
“If you are going to kill each other, do it outside – I just finished cleaning!”
My mom taught me religion. When I spilled orange juice on the carpet she said,
“You better pray that comes out of the carpet!”
My mom even taught me about Time Travel. Once she said while I was growing up,
“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”
My mom also helped me understand logic. She would often say,
“Because I said so, that’s why!”
Way before I took biology in school my mom taught me the science of osmosis. She said,
“Shut your mouth and eat your supper!”
Speaking of supper – it was at the dinner table my mom taught me about stamina…
You’ll sit there until all that spinach is finished!
I also learned about hypocrisy from my mother. I distinctly remember her saying a few times,
“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times – Don’t exaggerate!”
My mom had a very insightful understanding about the weather. Once she said to me,
“It looks like a tornado passed through your room!”
My mom even gave me insight into what a contortionist is when she asked me once,
“Will you look at the dirt on the back of your neck”
As for the phrase “circle of life”, I never really knew what that meant until my mom said,
“I brought you into the world, I can take you out!”
Finally, there’s envy, it wasn’t later in life until I grasped the significance of what she said when she told me once,
“…There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have a wonderful mother like you do…”
In all seriousness, my mom was a great mom and it is mostly because of her that I am who I am today. And I thank God that she loved me and my sister enough to teach us the many things she did.
Today is one day of the year that men will generally go out and buy a gift without being prompted to. But if you are one of those men who has not yet purchased a gift for your mother or your wife, let me give you a couple of pointers on what NOT to buy.
Do not buy her anything that plugs in. If something needs to be plugged in, she will only see it as a tool. Do not get her any exercise equipment, as this will lead to six months of her asking why you think she needs to exercise in the first place. And I guarantee you that is something you do not want to live with!
My suggestion is for you to buy her something that is only for her, and that will show her you are thinking only about her happiness. If you follow that rule, then whatever you get her will be appreciated and love.
As far as a woman goes, becoming a mother changes things, doesn’t it? And, becoming a mother more than once changes things even more. There are a few observations I’ve made. When a woman becomes pregnant for the first time, she will start wearing maternity clothes the day the doctor says she is pregnant. On her second pregnancy, she will wear her normal clothes for as long as she can, and by her third or fourth pregnancy, she will wear anything because she doesn’t have any more money to go out and buy any new clothes.
We all know that mothers are many things to their children, don’t we? Mothers are our first teachers in life and our most compassionate nurses.
We have all heard the expression that it takes a village to raise a child. Today, more than ever before, babysitters and nurseries are raising our children. The tragedy in that is more and more children are being taught outside the home, and what they are taught is most-often worldly rather than Godly.
Here are some of the things our children are learning in today’s world:
- They learn the worlds’ morality – “If it feels right, it is right.”
- They learn Humanism – “God doesn’t exist and we are capable of taking care of ourselves”
- They learn that man descended from apes – My question is “why are there still apes?”
We live in a similar society to what the prophet Jeremiah spoke to so many years ago, a society that “does not know how to blush”. Let’s face it. It might be more convenient for a village, or a nursery, or a sitter to raise our children, but it is much better for the child if the mother and father raise them – especially and most importantly in the early years.
We need Godly mothers and fathers who will stand up to the plate and say, “I will teach my children to walk in the way of the Lord.” We cannot let the most important thing in our children’s lives be left up to chance, or up to somebody else’s most likely false teachings. We must stand up and be accountable as parents for our children’s spiritual upbringing!
In Proverbs 22:6, we are given some pretty clear advice,
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
We know that being a good mother is helpful to our children as far as their physical and emotional well-being goes, but is it really that important to a child to be brought up spiritually sound in Jesus Christ?
In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul reminds us of Timothy’s parental influence.
I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
2 Timothy 1:5 (NIV)
Timothy had sincere faith, and he had that faith because of his grandmother and mother. Surely a mother helps form our spirit, and if she is a Godly mother, she will be the first introduction we have to our Lord.
Mothers are also protectors of their children, no matter how old her children may get. In our text for today we are going to look at the story of Mrs. Zebedee, the mother of two of Jesus’ disciples, James and John. Like any mother, she wanted only the very best for her sons.
Prior to this account Matthew records Jesus sharing a parable about a landowner, who hired some helpers, and no matter how long they worked for him, they all got paid the same wages. Perhaps Mrs. Zebedee heard this story and began to wonder what kind of reward her sons were going to get in Heaven? After sharing the parable, Jesus talked about His upcoming trial and predicts his violent death. We aren’t really given any indication to the reaction from those He was speaking to but right after that Matthew records Mrs. Zebedee approaching Jesus about a concern she had.
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
Matthew 20:20-23 (NIV)
Mrs. Zebedee was certain that when the Lord formed His kingdom, her boys would have positions of responsibility and authority. After all, the human way is to reward the best worker with the highest reward.
Jesus did not grant her request, but He did not deny it either. He simply reminded her of the cost of being seated on the right or the left, and then told her that only the Father knows such things.
Of course in reading this scripture we often draw much attention, and rightly so, to the teaching Jesus wants to make regarding greatness in the kingdom. However, there is some good in the mother’s request and I want us to learn what we can from what she asks of Christ that is good this morning. Hopefully, mothers, you’ll be able to learn from her as you consider what you might be doing (or have done) for your children.
1. She asked for her sons to be part of the kingdom of heaven.
In this I believe Mrs. Zebedee was a very good mother. I can think of no more important task of motherhood than to want your children to be a part of God’s Kingdom!
I know that most mothers pray. Sometimes they pray out of necessity and sometimes they pray because motherhood is so difficult. I have heard it said that the reason women are mothers, is because men couldn’t take the pressure. I’m afraid that through experience I would have to fully agree with that statement…
Certainly, mothers do get frustrated, don’t they? Perhaps one of the most frustrating times is when we are trying to communicate with the smaller children. I remember once I was watching my kids while Kerryanne was out and they wanted to go outside to play. I thought, great, I can go outside and do some work in the garage while the kids play around. We were outside for a bit and I had to run back in the house to check something for a few minutes and so I asked Zachary, our 7 year old to watch the others and make sure they stay out of trouble. I’m sure I wasn’t more than 5 minutes, but when I came back outside I noticed that the twins had got a hold of two garden shovels and were happily digging up our wet, muddy front yard and flinging the mud at each other. Needless to say they were absolutely covered with mud. As I grabbed the shovels from them, I turned to Zachary and said very calmly (pause) “I thought I told you to watch them?” Zachary’s reply was, “I did! I watched them get the shovels and dig in the mud!” Well, at least he followed that part of the directions, didn’t he?
Being a parent is not always an easy job. There are times when your joy and pride cannot be contained, and there are other times when the sadness is so great your eyes can’t hold all the tears. But one of the greatest responsibilities of parents is introducing their children to God. After all, didn’t Jesus say,
What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
Matthew 16:26 (NIV)
There are many things we can hope for and work for as we raise our children to be successful in life. But none of that matters if we don’t teach them about eternal things.
Mrs. Zebedee prayed that her sons would be a part of God’s Heavenly kingdom. I think all parents should pray the same prayer for their children – and this includes the fathers as well as the mothers. And we should do this for our children no matter what their ages are!
I hope that in the heart of every mother and father here this morning, there is a burden to go before the throne of God in prayer for your children – to pray they will be saved, saved from eternal damnation, and saved for eternal life.
Mrs. Zebedee prayed that her sons would be a part of God’s kingdom, and…
2. She asked that they would be INVOLVED in the work of God’s Kingdom.
We must remember that we are all called to be of service to the Lord, and I believe that service must begin in the home. It should begin with Moms and Dads going to God in prayer and including their children in those prayers as they teach them how to pray.
It begins with parents setting the Godly example of what living and serving God is all about! It continues as parents pray that their sons and daughters might be involved in the work of the kingdom. That they will discover their gifts and abilities and that they will use what God’s blessed them with for His kingdom.
It begins when parents pray that their children are not only a part of the kingdom, but are involved in the work of the kingdom.
I believe that Mrs. Zebedee prayed that her children would be actively involved in the work of His kingdom. And, as parents today, we need to walk in her footsteps.
3. She had big DREAMS for her children.
Mrs. Zebedee had big dreams for her children, didn’t she? I wonder how many of us dream big for our children, how many of us have big expectations? She didn’t just see her children as doorkeepers – she wanted them to sit on the throne, on either side of Jesus!
Of course, big dreams, and big expectations is a two edged sword. Sometimes parents can get so caught up in their dream and their expectations that they don’t allow that God has big dreams for their kids. Certainly Jesus, responded to Mrs. Zebedee’s request by pointing out that he didn’t really think she knew what she was asking for and dreaming for her sons. I believe Jesus’ wasn’t rebuking her dream that her sons would have greatness but rather pointing out that she might have a misunderstanding of what greatness requires and means in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Too often, we have a tendency to settle for mediocrity in our lives and in the church. Too often, we settle for aiming just about two feet inside the door. Too many Christians have been content to just sit back and let things happen around us instead of getting up and getting in the game.
As a good mother, Mrs. Zebedee was looking our for her children’s best interest. She wanted her boys to reach their fullest potential and be the best they could be.
I believe we should believe so for our own lives as well. Jesus called us to be doers of the word, not just hearers only. And one of the best ways to do God’s holy and righteous word is to be a person of humble prayer and sacrifical service.
Let’s take a moment to read the rest of the story,
24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:24-28 (NIV)
During World War II, Solomon Rosenberg and his family were sent to a concentration camp. There were several members of the family, including a very frail and sickly son named David. The rules of the camp were simple: You will live as long as you are strong enough to work.
Each day, after the forced labour, his family would come back to the barracks and hug each other. One day, they all came back and Solomon could not find his son David or his wife.
A friend said that when the soldiers came to take young David to the furnaces, he cried out for his mother and said he was scared. The mother could not let her son go alone to that horrible fate, so the friend said she stood up, smiled, and said, “let me go with you so you won’t be afraid.”
In this true story we learn of how a mother’s love is a Godly love. It shows how a Godly mother will sacrifice everything she has for her children, just like the Lord paid such a dear sacrifice for us. And it is all born out of love; a true and Godly Love.
This is Mother’s Day. In Exodus 20:12, we are given a commandment.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Exodus 20:12 (NIV)
Scripture says to honor your mother. There might be someone here today who feel that their mother doesn’t deserve to be honored. Well, the commandment from God didn’t say anything about your mother’s qualifications to be honored; it just says you are to honor her. We are not to put parameters on that. We simply are to follow those directions. You do not know the difference it can make when you obey God in this. If you have a difficult mother – how can you know what will happen if you obey God in this?
In North America there is a terrible pattern of parents spending less and less time with their children. God did not intend for our children to grow up without spiritual discipline and teaching in their lives, yet too many of our children today have none. And when we have no spiritual and moral codes to live by, we end up with godlessness and a blushless society.
If a Godly mother raised you, or if you a mother raising your kids in a Godly way, we want you to know you are truly loved and respected. But, if you have been raised without that Godly influence, and you feel that your life has been spent mostly in that place of godlessness, let me encourage you to recognize that there is a hand reaching out to you too.
It is God’s hand, and He is telling you that He loves you and that you can depend on Him. He is wanting you to come to Him – no matter what past, what history, or what darkness there is in your life.
In Isaiah 41:10 God gives a promise to those who will respond to His invitation,
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
I would like to do two things in closing today. I would like to take this opportunity to tell all the mothers, and mothers-to-be that you are loved and honored by us who truly treasure you. And you are loved and honored by God Almighty.
If you do not know the Lord on a personal level this morning, or if you are not walking the Christian walk you should be walking, won’t you allow God to do some heart work this morning? Jesus is reaching out His hand and I invite you to reach out and take it.