Pastor Rich Knight
Central Congregational Church
May 12, 2019 Mother’s Day
Two passages this morning from the Prophet Isaiah”
13Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones. 14But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” 15Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. 17Your builders outdo your destroyers, and those who laid you waste go away from you.
(as I read this please keep in mind that Isaiah was written long before the Puritan & Victorian eras)
10Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her— 11that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom. 12For thus says the Lord: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees. 13As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. 14You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.
I want to talk to you this morning about the divine nature of a mother’s love.
Let me say from the outset though that I’m not talking about the “Perfect Mother.” A Mother’s love doesn’t have to be perfect to be divine. No mother is perfect. No human being is perfect.
Jill Churchill: “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”
There is something so pure within a mother’s heart, that it mirrors the love God has for us.
A Jewish Proverb says, “God could not be everywhere and so he made mothers.”
One Christian leader (Jeffrey Holland) said this about the love of a mother: “No love . . . comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.”
Another writer put it this way: “Perhaps the reason we respond so universally to our mothers’ love is because it typifies the love of our Savior.” (Bradley D. Foster)
William R. Webb – “Mothers reflect God’s loving presence on earth.”
Mothers are a reflection of God’s love.
God has not only a Father’s Heart (“Our Father who art in heaven”) God also has a Mother’s heart.
In fact, there are a number of times in scripture where God is compared to a Mother. God’s actions are compared to that of a Mother. God’s care for us in compared to that of a Mother. God’s heart is compared to a Mother’s heart.
From the Book of Job: “God asks Job, ‘From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the Heavens?’” (Job 38:29)
The Words of Jesus: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often have I desired to gather your children together as a mother hen gathers her brood under her wings.” (Matt. 23:37)
From the Book of Hosea: God fierce love is compared to “a mother bear robbed of her cubs.” (Hosea 13:8)
In the Book of Deuteronomy: God is spoken of as a mother eagle who’s teaching her eaglets to fly. She “stirs up her nest, fluttering over her young, and . . . bears them on her wings, so the Lord led Israel.” (Deut. 32:11)
And when God & Isaiah were trying to come up with a way to reassure the Israelites that God would never forget or forsake them, the image that said it best was that of a mother.
From the Book of Isaiah – God says,“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” (Isaiah 66:13)
In Isaiah 49:15, God says, “’Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? . . . .so I will not forget you,’ says the Lord.”
I could list even more, however, the point is, God loves like a Mother, and Mothers love like God.
I. For instance, Mothers give us the freedom to be ourselves.
- In the same way that God gives us free will and invites us to discover ourselves, to become ourselves.
Someone said this about mothers: “A mother is someone who dreams great dreams for you, but then she lets you chase the dreams you have for yourself and loves you just the same.”
I’ve heard friends call themselves, “Hover-Mothers” Yet the mother who first taught me that phrase lets her child explore whatever the child is into and lets the child find and make his or her own way through life.
Illustration. My mother – when I was in high school I went back and forth between wanting to become a lawyer vs wanting to have a career in music. My mother much preferred me being a lawyer. It’s hard to make a living as a saxophone player, but I remember her saying, “Well, if you need to fall back on running a small music store, I could help you get that started.” (I realized years later that would have been quite a financial sacrifice for her)
At the end of my freshmen year of college I told her I wanted to become a pastor. She cried, and they weren’t tears of joy. We didn’t talk again about it for a year. She was never comfortable in church, and couldn’t see herself as the mother of a preacher, whatever that entails. But eventually she came around – going to Princeton Seminary helped. She even paid for it, until she passed away during my second year of seminary. I don’t think I ever appreciated how much she supported me even when she wasn’t thrilled with the path I had chosen. But that’s what mothers do. Mothers give us the freedom to find ourselves.
Doesn’t God do that, too?
God doesn’t control us like puppets. God doesn’t legislate every aspect of our lives.
Jesus rebelled against that kind of legalism, because that’s not how God works with us. God gives us the freedom to be. That’s what love does.
II. Another way that a Mother’s love mirrors the love of God is that Mothers offer us unconditional love. That’s how God loves.
The Apostle John wrote: “We love because God first loved us.” (I John 4:19). Just like a parent, God instinctively loves us.
The Apostle Paul taught that God’s love is a gift of grace. It’s something we can’t earn ourselves. It simply comes from God.
That’s why we can never lose God’s love because we didn’t earn it in the first place. God’s love is unconditional.
You know that expression, “Home is where you go and they always take you in.” That’s largely because of Mothers, don’t you think? We Dads might sometimes say, “You stay out there for a while and think about what you’ve done!”
Christiane Northrup in her book, Mother Daughter Wisdom says this: “No one in your life will ever love you as your mother does. There is no love as pure, unconditional, and strong as a mother’s love.” Mothers loves unconditionally.
Illustration. I was leading a small group some years ago and the subject of Unconditional Love came up. I then made a flip remark, as I am prone to do.
I said something like, “It’s like those mothers they interview on the news after their sons have done something horrible and have ended up in jail. The moms always say, ‘He was a good boy, and I love him so much.” And I think the way I said it, I’m ashamed to say was putting those moms down a little bit. I was sort of chuckling at their expense.
A woman in the group then said this: “Well, my son’s in jail, and will be for another year; and I still love him. I love him just as much now, maybe even more, because he needs my love now more than ever.”
Isn’t that how God loves?
Romans 5 says, “God demonstrates his love for us, in that while we were still sinners, still in our sins, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)
God loves us, even when we are not terrible loveable sometimes, even in our far-from-perfect condition – God loves us because it is God’s nature to love.
I heard a mother say recently, “I finally realized that the times when my children are being most unlovable and make me want to pull out my hair – those are the times when they need my love the most.”
That may be the most Christian thing I’ve ever heard in my life!
I want to mention just one other way that the love of a Mother mirrors the love of God.
III. A Mother’s Love is Sacrificial.
The life and love of a mother is simply one sacrifice after another.
The comedian Tina Fey once said this: “Being a mom has made me so tired—and so happy.”
Illustration. I read this week of a teacher reviewing fractions with her class. She used this illustration:
“Suppose your mother had an apple pie and there were 10 of you at the table – your mom and your dad and the 8 children. How much of the pie would you each get?”
The answer of course being a tenth. (1/10)
One little boy put up his hand and said, “A ninth.”
“No,” said the teacher. “Listen carefully. I’ll go over it again. There are 10 of you at the table. Think in terms of fractions.”
The boy replied, “I’m thinking about fractions, but I’m also thinking about my mother. She’d say she didn’t want any pie, so the rest of us could have more.”
A Mother’s Love is sacrificial.
God’s Love is, too.
Among the 12 Disciples, no one understood this better than John. Listen to some of his words:
“For God so loved the world that he gave . . his only begotten Son.”
Love gives and it gives sacrificially.
John 15:13 – “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
I John 3:16 – We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.
Illustration. Car accident.
Some years ago I read of mother & baby in Poland who were in a very serious car accident. It was late at night, in the dead of winter, and their car slid off the road and down a steep embankment. The mother’s legs were broken. She couldn’t carry her baby to safety, and she doubted that anyone would find them in time. So she took off some of her outer clothing and used them to wrap her baby to protect the child from the cold. The next morning they found the mother, partially clothed, with her body wrapped around her baby. The mother had died, but the baby was alive.
A mother’s love is sacrificial.
So, too, is the love of Christ.
Isn’t that what we see when we look at the Cross? – a partially clothed Jesus willingly laying down his life for us his children.
That’s what love does.
Mothers love like God.
God loves like a mother.
Thanks be to God for both of those truths.