Mothers’ Day Message  ~  May 11, 2014

Three successful sons were bragging about what they got for their mom on Mother’s Day.  One son boasted, “I bought a huge house for her.”  The second son exclaimed “I bought her a brand new Mercedes.”  The third son bragged, “I have you both beat!  You know how much she loves reading the Bible, and you know how bad her eyesight is?  Well I bought her a parrot that can recite the entire Bible!  It took 20 monks 12 years to train the parrot, and I had to pledge $100,000 per year for the next ten years, but I’m sure she’ll love the parrot.

Shortly after Mother’s Day, each son received a note from their mom.  The first one’s read, “The house is too big!”  The second one’s read, “I’m too blind to drive.”  The third one’s read, “That chicken was delicious!”

Happy Mother’s Day.  God commands us “Honor thy father and thy mother,” and while we ought to do that every day, we have set aside this day as a special opportunity to honor our mothers or those women who became as mother’s to us, whether grandmothers, older sisters, teachers or someone else. 


A Mother’s Faith

The 19th century evangelist D.L. Moody tells the story about a woman introduced as Mrs. So-and-so, a woman of great faith, to which the woman retorted, “No...I’m a woman of little faith in a great God.”  I think Moses’ biological mother, Jochabed, could have agreed with that assessment: she was a woman of little faith in a great God.

In this morning‘s reading, a Hebrew woman gives birth to a beautiful baby boy during Pharaoh’s cruel genocidal campaign, decreed in the immediately preceding verse: “Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: ‘Throw all the newborn Israelite boys into the Nile River.  But you may spare the baby girls.” (Exodus 1:22)  When Jochabed delivered her son, there were no ecstatic celebrations lest someone find out and throw her baby into the Nile.

What did Jochabed do?  She disobeyed the royal edict and kept her baby boy, hiding him for three months.  Imagine the courage it took to withstand this wicked Pharaoh and hazard incurring his fierce wrath.  Imagine hiding a baby boy who cried for food and cried to be held and cried when he was tired and cried to be changed day after day after day, knowing in the back of your mind that each day could be the day they discovered your baby boy, hurled him into the Nile River and hurled you into the dark, vermin infested dungeon or even executed you. 

How were they able to do that?  Hebrews provides the answer: faith.  “It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months.  They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid of what the king might do.” (Hebrews 11:23)  By faith they knew God had given them this child.   By faith they knew he was no ordinary child - he was unusual or special - which many interpret as meaning they knew he was destined by God for some great purpose.  By faith they were emboldened to obey God rather than man, to preserve their child against the murderous machinations of a wicked tyrant despite the seeming impossibility and potential danger, to hide their baby knowing how hard it would be to conceal a newborn baby but confident that God was more than able to keep their son safe. 

His mother’s faith in God was also evident when she placed him in a basket.  Returning to this morning’s reading, we read that she was eventually no longer able to hide him.  So she made a waterproofed reed basket, placed Moses in the basket, and placed the basket among the reeds on the river bank.  Why?  Because of that same faith.  Her confidence in God assured her that God would somehow preserve her beloved, beautiful baby boy even now.  You see, when she placed Moses in the basket, she placed him in hands of God, she entrusted him into God’s loving protection, she basically said “God, I can no longer hide him - but I know he’s safe in your cradling arms.” 

This mother’s day, let us honor and thank God for mothers or those women who became as mothers to us, who showed us what it means to trust God and put their trust into action; those woman who gave us their legacy of faith; and let us learn from their example.


A Mother’s Compassion - Someone shared this story: “I have five siblings and two brothers.  One night I was chatting with my Mom about how she changed as a mother from the first child to the last.  She told me she had mellowed over the years: ’When the oldest sister coughed or sneezed, I called the ambulance.  When your youngest brother swallowed a dime, I just told him it was coming out of his allowance.”  I’m not sure if that was a compassionate response; but many of us first experienced compassion at the hands of our mothers. 

Webster’s dictionary defines compassion as “a sympathetic consciousness of other’s distress together with a desire to alleviate it; a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.”  How many times did your mother have compassion when you feel off your bicycle and skinned your knee - as she applied hydrogen peroxide, a band-aid, and that most precious healing balm - a kiss on the boo-boo.  How many times did your mother have compassion when you came home from school having been rejected by your crush or betrayed by your best friend or bullied by a mean kid - as she sat down at the kitchen table with you, maybe scooped out a bowl of ice cream or opened a package of Oreo cookies and just listened and spoke soothing words of encouragement and comfort and love.  That’s compassion, and that’s what Pharaoh’s daughter had on this Israelite baby.

In this morning’s reading, Pharaoh’s daughter sees the baby boy, hears his cries, and has compassion: “His helpless cries touched her heart.”  She saw him abandoned, alone, crying - maybe fearful or hungry - and she wanted to help.  Like Jochabed, Moses’ biological mother, she knew Pharaoh’s decree - her father’s decree.  Maybe she thought about how rescuing this abandoned Hebrew child would bring his paternal wrath down on her head.  Maybe she thought about the irony: Pharaoh’s daughter disobeying Pharaoh’s decree.  Maybe she thought about how many other people would not dare to have compassion on this forlorn Israelite baby; who might ignore him or kill him - but she had compassion.  In verse 9, she unwittingly recommits him into the care of his mother, whom she hires as his paid wet nurse; and in verse 10, she adopts Moses as her own son.

This Mother’s Day, let us honor and thank God for those women, whether mothers or other women who served as our mothers, who had compassion on us when we were forlorn or frightened, when we were hungry, hurting, or harassed; and let us learn from their example.


Mothers Illustrate God

In closing, parents can serve to illustrate God to us; and this Mother‘s Day serves as an opportunity for us to remember those illustrations and to honor and thank God for those women who gave us a glimpse of what God is like.  Here’s just a few ways these mothers illustrated God: 

  • As Jochabed hid Moses for three months, so too does God hide us.  The Psalmist declares, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7)  When we are compassed by adversities and adversaries, we can echo Wesley’s prayer: “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly, while the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.  Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past; safe into thy haven guide; O receive my soul at last.” 
  • As Pharaoh’s daughter had compassion on Moses, so too does God have compassion on us.  The apostle Paul writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort;” (2 Corinthians 1:4) and the prophet Jeremiah declares, “Because of the LORD’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” (Lamentations 3:22)  
  • As Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses, so too has God adopted us.  “His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:5)  Think about some of the parallels for a minute: Before Moses could love her, she loved and chose Moses; even so with us and God: “Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” (Ephesians 1:4)  Moses was utterly helpless and needed to be saved from certain, impending death whether from hunger or from the gaping mouths of ravenous crocodiles or someone zealous to execute Pharaoh’s decree - and she saved him when he was utterly helpless; so too God saved us when we were utterly helpless; for we read, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” (Romans 5:6)  Moses did nothing to merit her favor; rather, she saved Moses by her unmerited favor, or grace; even as who are saved did nothing to merit God’s favor; rather, God gave us his unmerited favor - we are saved freely by his grace alone, received freely through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ alone.    
  • As Pharaoh’s daughter took care of an abandoned baby, so too God takes care of those who are abandoned, even by their parents.  The Psalmist declares, “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.” (Psalm 27:10)  Too many people have suffered parental abandonment, and for them Mother’s Day or Father’s Day serves as an unsolicited, painful reminder of a mom or dad who walked out of their lives leaving behind sorrow, anger, confusion, disappointment; and if you are one of those people, know this: God is not that kind of parent.  Even if your mother and father should abandon you, God never will, assuring us, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”  


In closing: There are many people who hate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – and maybe you’re one of them.  Maybe it’s because your human parents never loved you: but God is love and has manifested his love for each and every one of us in the precious gift of his only begotten, loving us so much that he did not spare his beloved Son but even sent him to die for our salvation; and for those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ - “See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are.” (1 John 3:1)  Maybe it’s because your human parents never kept their promises or told you the truth; but “God is not a man that he should lie.  He is not human that he should change his mind.  Has he ever spoken and failed to act?  Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:19)  Maybe your human parents failed or disappointed or hurt you in some other way, and this Mother’s Day is just another painful reminder of that fact - but it can be the day in which you become a child of God, adopted and born again and from above by the Holy Spirit as his son or daughter; and how can you enter into this personal relationship?  “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)