Sixth Sunday of Easter Trinity Lutheran Church
10 May 2015 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
The Fourth Commandment: Honor Your Father and MOTHER
Motherhood: this is a vocation or office in which God Himself is at work in the world! THIS IS PRECISELY WHY THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT BEGINS WITH THE WORD: “HONOR.” You are to “honor” your mother because God is hiddenly active in your mother. God, if you will, uses you mother as His mask. You are to “honor” your mother because God acts in the world for the benefit and good of His creation through motherhood!
It is God who empowers a woman to be a mother. Through the woman God creates, sustains, and raises children. Motherhood is a divine and holy vocation! A holy order! It goes all the way back to God’s very good creation when God made Eve from Adam’s side, married them and blessed them with these words: “be fruitful and multiply” in the one flesh union that is enjoyed in holy marriage.
God Himself designed a woman’s body so that a baby can be conceived in her womb. In this way Mom offers her body “as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) for the sake of her children. In other words, Mom lives sacrificially for her kids. Just as Jesus said in the Holy Gospel for today: “Love each other as I have loved you,” (John 15:12). Christ’s love is the Good Friday love for all sinners – the Father’s love for all of you His children. Talk about total self-denial! He not only loved His friends. Jesus even loved His enemies! “Father forgive them,” He prayed.
That’s Jesus – lays down His life FOR YOU — hangs dead on the cross FOR YOU. He offers His divine body as the only sacrifice that atones for all your sin. He puts you first. You needed a salvific saving. You needed a total forgiveness. You needed to be put into a family. So He resolutely sets His face to go and do a Jerusalem. He bullishly does what it takes to redeem you: His brutal suffering – His torturous death.
Christ’s Good Friday love for you “bears fruit” when you “love each other as [Jesus has] loved you.” That includes the selfless life of love that a mother shows for her children. This is the order of her life. Unselfish acts of love compose the high liturgy of her life as mother. Doing Mom stuff is Mom’s way of denying herself in order to live for her children.
Besides your own mother, the Virgin Mary is the classical biblical example to show you how to live faithfully as a mother. She denied herself in order to carry, birth, and raise the Baby Jesus. “May it be to me according to your word,” (Luke 1:38). That was her “Amen” to her calling to be the mother of Jesus – when the eternally begotten Son of the Father was conceived by the Holy Spirit and took on human flesh in her belly. At His birth and 12 years later when she and Joseph found Him in the temple, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart,” (Luke 2:19, 51). She treasured Him and gave discerning thought to the fact that her child was also her Savior – the world’s Savior.
It couldn’t have been easy for Mary. Most likely she endured all kinds of ridicule and scorn. When her Boy grew up and began His preaching ministry He made it very clear that He was the Messiah – the very Savior of the world! Consequently most people, even members of His own family thought, “‘He was out of his mind,’” (Mark 3:21). Countless folks were offended and threatened by Mary’s Son. Many, especially the religious big wigs, accused Him of being demon possessed (Mark 3:22) and they wanted Him dead ASAP. They had their way eventually. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” they shouted to Governor Pilate.
Old man Simeon told Mary that the 40 day-old Baby Jesus would, “cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and be a sign that would be spoken against so that the thoughts of many hearts would be revealed.” And then Simeon bluntly told Mary: “And a sword will pierce your own soul too,” (Luke 2:34-35). Indeed! Can you imagine Mary’s intense struggles and agony as she witnesses her Son’s arrest, trial, brutal beatings, cruel suffering and atrocious death on the cross? She did not betray Him. She did not deny Him. Through it all, she remained faithful to her callings: His mother and His faithful disciple!
As His mother, Mary, together with Joseph, regularly took the Boy Jesus to synagogue to hear God’s Word and they taught Him how to pray – mostly the psalms. After all the psalms were the prayer book and hymnal of the Old Testament. May Mary and Joseph’s example stir us parents to do the same with our children.
The fruit of their going to church habitually and their faithful teaching is seen as Jesus totally depends on His Father – living by faith — throughout His life and especially the last day of His life when He hangs on the cross. “My God, my God, why have you forsake me?” is Psalm 22. “Father, forgive them,” is the heart of what it means to live with people who sin against you. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” is Psalm 31. That was the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer that every Hebrew mother taught her children.
Like the Virgin Mary all mothers during pregnancy share their body, nutrients, strength and their own space with their children. After the labor and delivery the mother continues to keep her child alive by nursing her, keeping her clean, protecting her from the cold, diseases, etc. This is a very physical and demanding vocation. “Motherhood is different than I thought,” commented 23 year-old Jill (Duggar) Dillard of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting after giving birth to a son last week. She endured 70 hours of labor. “I have just asked my mom a lot of questions about what is normal and what to expect,” she said. “I call out to my mom an ask things like, ‘Is this feeling normal?’ and ‘How long should I nurse?’”
Jill, like all mothers, is learning how to use all her intellect, her soul and all her gifts as she and her husband Derick care and raise their newborn child. As a new mother she feeds, clothes, washes and molds her child in the ordinary, every day, and yet very challenging tasks that too many people would rather not do. She is an example of what it means to offer her body as a living sacrifice – denying herself to live, make choices, explore and be “mother,” the Lord’s instrument for her child.
So, on this Mother’s Day, we learn once again and rejoice that Mom is the Lord’s hands and mouth. God takes care of His creatures through His creatures! God blesses you through your mother. The Large Catechism faithfully teaches this biblical principle: “For creatures are only the hands, channels, and means whereby God gives all things, as He gives to the mother breasts and milk to offer to her child.”
Yes, Mom is the Lord’s hands and mouth so that she can serve her neighbor: her child! Mom is like a little Christ for her child. Mom lives not to be served but to serve as she gives her life (time, talents, energy, emotions, health, hope, faith) as mother for her child. The Lord gives meaning to this service of motherhood. He even ties it together with the salvation of all humans because the Lord, through motherhood, when the time was just right, sent His only begotten Son to be conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary to live and die as the Savior of the ungodly!
So, on this Mother’s Day I beg you to use Jesus in the way that He wants to be used. As the Savior of sinners! The Mediator between God and men. Whose blood cleanses you from all sin. After all, mothers aren’t perfect. They sin. Even against their children. Children aren’t perfect either. They sin against their mothers. It seems like we hurt and harm the people that are the closest to us. So, confess your sin to each other. And forgive each other – love each other – as God in Jesus Christ has forgiven / loved you.
Happy honoring your mother! Happy Mothers’ Day. In the Name of Jesus.