I have great admiration for my mother. I know she put up with a lot! There are other mothers in my life, aunts, grandmothers, whom I also have benefited from in tremendous ways. And as I watch my wife with wonder at all she has done and does do for our three children, I am amazed. She is an incredible person. And as I want to show, it is appropriate to say, she is god-like in what she does, to God’s glory.
Today is a special day in many families. It is Mother’s Day. For some this reminds them of their own mothers. For others it reminds them of their children. For others this is a time of anticipation, and yet again, for others a time of sorrowful remembering of what might have been. No matter where we fall in the spectrum, we want to understand how Christians ought to view this day. We all know what motherhood looks like. We may not be mothers, by choice, gender, or circumstances, but all of us either have mothers, or are married to mothers, or are mothers.
First of all, there is a promise (and probably a prodding for children and husbands) in the Bible that godly mothers are worthy of praise. Children will “rise up and call her blessed” and her husband will “praise her” publicly (Prov. 31:28). Children are to “honour” both their father “and Mother.” Mother’s Day is a supremely Biblical concept. So it is right that on this day (as on every day) we show great appreciation for the great sacrifices and love and care that mothers everywhere show. But that is not as far as we want to go. There is much more. Christian mothers have an added joy. All Christians live their lives to the glory of God, as Paul puts it, “whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). And the great work of Mother’s is actually picked up by the prophet Isaiah as a picture that glorifies God. In Isaiah 66:7-14, the prophet uses motherhood as the perfect picture of the glory of God in the work of Salvation. Did you know that?
Let me take just a moment, to both honour mothers and glorify God this morning, by taking you to the last chapter of the book of Isaiah. Isaiah 66 is an amazing prophecy. God is quoted as reminding us of who his is in verse one: “Thus says Yahweh, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? V. 2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be’ declares Yahweh.” Our God is the Creator and Sustainer of everyone and everything. But despite that, he tells us, that he will “look” upon, or take a special regard for every person “who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at [his] word.”
The Bible teaches us that these things are true for all those who are born again, who have received salvation. And God promises that his Salvation comes not through any works that we do, but by his promise, or in Bible language, by his “New Covenant.” But that is so unadorned, unexplained and intellectual. God wants us to know what his salvation is really like, and what his promise really means. And you know how God wants us to understand what he does? He says consider your mother.
The first thing we all understand about mothers is that they bring forth life. They give birth to all of us. And since God is the Creator and source of all life, this is a godlike activity. Mother’s both emulate and point to God in the act of giving birth. And this points forward to spiritual birth, or salvation. Look at verses 7-9. In these verses God shows how his people will grow and expand under the new covenant by God’s miraculous activity and multiplying his people. And the best way to express this truth? Motherhood, and the labor of birth. “Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” says the Lord; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God.
Zion will have many children, but note without the pain of labour (Mother’s would appreciate that)! The emphasis is not on the faithfulness, or worthiness, of the remnant to see such faithfulness, or worthiness, of the God’s people to see such growth and expansion, but entirely upon God’s gift of grace, which causes enormous rejoicing. We see that in verse 10. But more, we see in 10-11, that God’s salvation, which brings the same joy that the birth of a child does to all around, is all the work of the mother. And just as it not the work of the child in being born, but the labor of the mother giving birth, so as a newborn, the child does nothing, but is reliant in every way upon his mother. All who trust in God, like that infant trusts her mother and looks upon God with that full face smile that a tiny baby begins to express in her presence, will be nourished by God in the same way a mother nourishes that child. See:
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, / all you who love her;/ rejoice with her in joy, / 11 that you may nurse and be satisfied / from her consoling breast; / that you may drink deeply with delight / from her glorious abundance.”
I remember, being with Karmyn and one of our kids getting their first inoculations. After that I couldn’t bear to see anymore! But an amazing thing happened. That red faced little baby screamed to high heaven at the insult of the needle. But when baby was placed on mother’s breast total peace came and all was well with the world. Salvation is like that. It does not take away all the possible bad circumstances and needles of the world. But it brings peace in the midst of them, as verse 12-13 show:
12 For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, / and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; / and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, / and bounced upon her knees. / 13 As one whom his mother comforts, / so I will comfort you; / you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
And when this happens, just as the extended family comes to the hospital to rejoice over the birth of a little one, so God’s people (Israel) would rejoice, verse 14: “shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; / your bones shall flourish like the grass; / and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants.” But like any good mother, who would defend her child with an unmatched ferociousness, God declares, “he shall show his indignation against his enemies.”
So as you and I celebrated our Mother’s, Grandmothers, Wife’s with children, and those expecting children, those who adopt and those who have so influenced us as surrogate mothers, we must also note that all they do points us to God and his salvation. We ought to thank them and thank God for them. Each of you who have the privilege and responsibility and joy of being mothers, have a sacred task of displayed God in the birthing, nurturing, and comforting of your children. As you do this, they learn about God, and his character through you. Let us all praise God for how we see him in motherhood.