You won’t be reading this until after Mother’s Day, but I’m beginning the writing of this article a little over a week before May’s Matriarchal Event. I tell you that because I’m getting ready to be prophetic, in the foretelling the future kind of sense. Now I don’t mean to sound super spiritual, because what I’m about to prophecy (predict), though I believe it will prove to be 100% accurate, doesn’t take any supernatural giftedness. What I foretell will happen on Mother’s Day, about one week from the time I’m penning these lines, goes as follows. After church our family will gather at our home and the guys (Me, Dad, and Benji) will ask the ladies (Mom and My Love) where they want us to take them out to eat for their special day. They will both look at one another and say something to the effect of “I don’t care”, “Where do you want to go?”, “It doesn’t matter to me”, “Oh, anyplace will be fine.” This sort of banter will go on for 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 minutes until they finally decide on a place to go. You see, I don’t know how it is with the moms you’ve known in your life, but my Mom and My Love are two of the most loving, most godly, most humble, most serving people you will ever meet. That makes them good at fulfilling requests, but not so good at making them! In this month’s newsletter we will look at and learn from three occasions where moms made requests.
Request 1—A Mother’s Request To Deliver Her Helpless Daughter (Matt. 15:21-28)…Our sweet nine year old often asks what he did when he was a baby. His mother and I are only too happy to talk to him about those precious times. We tell him that when babies are born they can’t do much except cry (and fill the hearts of their parents with joy inexpressible!). He asks if he could walk, talk, eat, and run when he was a baby and we repeat, “No, babies just cry (and fill the hearts of their parents with inexpressible joy!).” My Love tells our son that babies cry because that’s the only way they can let it be known that they need something. The parents have to figure out what they need because the baby is so helpless that they can’t even speak for themselves. My sweet wife tells Benji what a joy it is to a parent when they find out what their newborn needs and the crying stops.
Matthew 15:21-28 records the story of a mother we usually refer to simply as “the Syrophoenician woman.” We’re unsure as to how old her daughter might have been but she was much older than an infant. The daughter was demon possessed. We’re not told what all the manifestations of this possession might have been, but what we do know is that the child was in desperate need and there was nothing her mother could do, try as she might, to make it right, to make it stop, to make it go away. The Gentile mother found out that Jesus was in their region. She came to Christ, fell at His feet, and kept crying over and over requesting that the Lord would have mercy on her and deliver her daughter from the cruel vexation of the demon. The disciples wanted Jesus to send her away, yet though He didn’t do as they requested neither did He answer her pleas right away. The woman was undeterred and kept making her request known. Like mothers do, she loved her child and yearned to make her better. She had nowhere else to go but to the Lord. Finally, Jesus responds to her entreaties by simply stating that He was “sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Still, this Gentile mother would not go away but cries out, “Lord, help me!”. Christ replies that “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Most people would have been offended and would have walked away in pride and disgust. Not this mother though! She responded in humility, with compassion for her daughter, and with faith in the person and power of Christ by saying, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ tables.” Jesus then turns to this Gentile mother and does something that He only does to one other person in Scripture, He commends her for her great faith! The Lord tells her that her daughter would be made well, and she was healed at that very hour!
You may be a mom (or dad or brother or sister or husband or wife or friend) of someone that you can’t help in and of your own power. Maybe there’s an ailment they have that you can’t heal. Maybe there’s a destructive behavior that they’re engaged in but you can’t make them stop. Maybe they persist in unbelief but you can’t make them repent and put trust in Christ for salvation. You may be limited, you may be powerless, but there is One to whom you can pray that can move in ways beyond our human abilities. Don’t give up! Keep praying! God still delivers the bound, still heals the sick, and still convicts hearts of the truth of sin and of salvation through the power of His Holy Spirit!
Request 2—A Mother’s Request For Her Thunderous Sons To Be Used By God (Matt. 20:20-23)…One of the favorite times of day for me and my wonderful wife is when we take our evening family walks. It’s our goal to make three laps around our block each night (and we almost always make it at least 2!). My Love started us in this tradition a few months back as a way to help us all get more exercise. Now, while I’m sure there is physical benefit, we’ve come to enjoy it even more for other reasons. It’s a good time for us to clear our minds and talk to one another along the road. Our sweet boy will ask us many things and tell us many things during these moments together. One subject that comes up fairly often is that of Benji’s future. He asks about whether he should be this, that, or the other thing. Sometimes he wants to be the future President (I don’t know why someone would want the job but I told Benji I would vote for him!), other days he thinks he should be the Chairman of the Iron Chefs (if you don’t understand this reference you only need to watch the Food Network!), and still there are times when he thinks he should be a pastor (I’m kind of partial towards this idea myself!). His mom and I always tell him that whatever God has for him to be is great with us as long as he loves and serves the Lord with all of his heart. As I’m sure most of the parents reading this article would agree, there is no greater aspiration we have for our children than that they love God and be used by Him for His purposes and plans.
Matthew 20:20-23 is a passage where Salome, the mother of James and John, comes to Jesus and asks Him if her sons can sit on His right and left hand when He comes into His kingdom. Christ responds by asking them if they were able to “drink the cup that I (Jesus) am about to drink?” They, in typical human self-confidence, without hesitation declare that “they are able.” The Lord tells them that one day they would indeed drink that cup (though I’m sure neither the brothers nor their mother could conceive at the time the suffering and trials that would entail for the future) but goes on to instruct all of His disciples that they shouldn’t think of leadership in the proud and grandiose way the world does but that they should view it as a call to service. As unhappy as Jesus appeared to be about the request for James and John to be the top leaders in His kingdom, the other disciples were even more displeased that two of their number would attempt to rise above their fellow comrades.
If we said nothing more here we might have a negative view about the mother of James and John, but let’s look at the rest of the story. Though this might not have been Salome’s shining moment, who could blame her for wanting her sons to be used by God? She might have had the wrong view of what the Kingdom would look like, but she sure had the right King picked out! And Salome would be true to that King herself, even when it looked like His end and those of His followers would be one of despair. She was one of the women near Jesus when He was crucified (Matt. 27:55-56) and was also in the group that came early on Sunday morning to anoint Christ for burial with spices. Thanks be to God that though she ultimately proved true to what she thought would be a “dead Jesus,” her along with the other women who came to the tomb found the stone rolled away and an angel declaring that indeed Jesus was alive, having risen just as He said (Mark 16:1-8)! As for her sons, they would prove to be true to Christ as well. James would be the first of the Apostles martyred for the cause of Jesus (Acts 12:1-2) and John would endure many trials, including being exiled on the Isle of Patmos, over his multi-decade service to the Lord and in the process would be used to author five New Testament books. Thanks be to God for mothers who pray for their children to be used in the service of the Lord!
Request 3—A Mother’s Request For People To Obey Her Son (John 2:1-12)…What a better way to wrap up a Mother’s Day oriented message than with speaking about the most famous mom in all of history! Mary, the mother of Jesus, is not to be worshipped nor prayed to and was a sinner like you and me who needed the redemption that her Son would purchase as much as every other sinner needs it (just read her opinion of her need of salvation in Luke 1:47). That being said, she certainly was a favored servant of the Lord, so blessed and highly favored that she was chosen to bear the incarnate Son of the Living God!
A popular Christmas song asks the question, “Mary Did You Know?” How much she knew and when she knew it are a matter up for debate. However, she knew from the beginning that Jesus was the Virgin born Son of God. The visits of the shepherds and wise men let her know that her Son was special and worthy of worship. The prophecies of Simeon and Anna gave her insight as to Jesus’ future mission and ministry. Her Son’s staying behind in the Temple at age 12 let her know that He would be about His Father’s business and would be a Man of the Word of God! However, though she knew He was special and extraordinary, it seems that not many others noticed until Christ began His official ministry at age 30.
The first of many miracles of Jesus recorded in the gospels is that of turning the water into wine. Christ, His mother, and His disciples were among the many guests invited to a wedding feast. The hosts of the ceremony had run out of wine for the celebration. Were this to be discovered by the guests it would have been a reason for great embarrassment. Into the scene comes Mary, Jesus’ mom. She approaches her Son and tells Him, “they have no wine.” The obvious implication being, “Jesus, there’s a situation here and I know You can do something about it.” The Lord replies in a way that may seem disrespectful to His mom at first glance. He calls Mary “Woman” (which was not a demeaning term in the culture but was simply a way of distancing Himself from His mother’s request, it was like calling her ma’am) and then goes on to declare that His hour had not yet come. Mary leaves her Son’s presence by telling the servants, “Whatever He (Jesus) says to you, do it.” Most reading this know the rest of the story. Jesus instructs the servants to fill six large pots with water (each one held 20 to 30 gallons). The Lord then has some of the drink given to the headwaiter and it is now discovered to be wine. Not just wine, but better wine than what had been served earlier! Not everyone knew what had happened but the servants at the wedding and the disciples of Jesus knew! John records this as the “beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him (John 2:11).” One may question the wisdom and demeanor in which Mary approached Jesus, her Son, with this obvious request, but no one can question the wisdom of Mary when she confidently requests, even commands in a sense, the servants at the wedding to follow her Son’s instructions, whatever they may be, to the letter! Oh that people everywhere would recognize, follow, and proclaim Jesus’ Lordship so clearly!