Help for Desperate Housewives
Dr. Jim Denison
Laura Bush made history with her remarks at the White House Correspondents Dinner last Saturday night. Her most repeated line complains that her husband, “Mr. Excitement,” is in bed each night by 9:00 o’clock, leaving her to watch “Desperate Housewives.” Then she added, “I am a desperate housewife.”
Some of you know the feeling. This is a wonderful day for many of you. Your family is with you today, or will be in touch soon. Your husband loves you, and your children and even grandchildren are doing well. This is a day of celebration and joy.
This is a hard day for others. You’re worried about children who aren’t making the choices you wish they would. Or you’re a single mother trying to be mother and father to you children and support your family. Or your child is already in heaven, and this is a hard day for you. Or you want to be a mother–you’re happy for those who are, and a bit envious as well, wondering if this will ever be your day.
God has a word for every woman I just described, and every person who cares about the women I just described. Here is help we can get nowhere else but God’s word. First we’ll explore the connection between Mother’s Day and the Lord’s Day, the spiritual significance of this occasion. Then we’ll apply what we learn to our families and our own souls.
Be the person you want your child to become
Our text reminds us that Jesus had a mother, brothers, and sisters. Remember how it all started, as the angel Gabriel appeared to a peasant teenage girl to ask her to be the mother of the Messiah. If she agreed, she would likely lose her fiancée–how will he ever believe a virgin birth story? Her family and his would reject her. She will then be a single mother; her only options would be prostitution or begging. That’s just the reality of the moment.
But remember her response: “I am the Lord’s servant–may it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). She submits herself to God.
Now consider her Son’s response when he faced his own life-and-death test of obedience. When he struggles in the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing that he will die if he agrees to God’s request. What is his reply? “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away from me unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42). Mary’s Son submits himself to God. I wonder why.
Now skip ahead to Mary’s visit with her relative Elizabeth, where this young mother-to-be prays one of the most remarkable prayers in all of Scripture. It’s composed entirely of parts of the Bible, including 1 Samuel, Psalms, Isaiah, Micah, and Exodus. She quotes God’s word and claims its promises as his own.
How did her Son respond when faced with the attacks of Satan? Three times he quoted Scripture. How did he respond when challenged to name the greatest commandment in the Law? He quoted Scripture. How did he respond when he was on trial for his life? He quoted Scripture. How did he respond when dying on the cross? Mary’s Son quoted Scripture. I wonder why.
Now move ahead to Jesus’ problematic relationship with Mary’s other children.
When Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth to teach, the people responded: “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3).
Now Jesus, the oldest brother and caretaker for this family, has left them to begin his public ministry. Opposition against him affected his siblings. John informs us that “even his own brothers did not believe in him” (John 7:5).
With this result: “Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He’s out of his mind'” (Mark 3:21).
Then, when they arrived, they couldn’t get to him because of the crowd, so they sent someone to call him (v. 31). His response is in our text: “Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:49-50). His own siblings are clearly not acting in that will.
But Mary never gave up on her eldest Son or her other children.
She continued to trust in Jesus and his mission. She was at his cross to watch him die. She stayed with his followers, risking her own life. She must have continued to pray for her other children to trust in her Son as she did.
Then came the pivotal moment when, after his resurrection, Jesus “he appeared to James, then to all the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:7). This James was his oldest half-brother, the oldest child of Mary and Joseph. He eventually became the first pastor in Christian history, leading the Jerusalem church to reach the world and writing probably the first book of the New Testament, the letter of James.
And he and his mother had a remarkable influence on the rest of their family. A few weeks later, in the upper room, Jesus’ disciples gathered along with “Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts 1:14). His once-rejecting brothers received his Holy Spirit along with the rest of his church, joined the first witnesses to the world, and led the movement which would win a million converts within a generation to their older brother, now their Savior and Lord.
Mary would serve her Son as her Lord for the rest of her lives, and so did her children. I wonder why.
Learn to be a deliberate mom
We have established today the clear link between a mother’s faith and that of her children. What Mary was, her children became. While our children have free will and may not follow our example, the chances are much better that they will. The vast majority of conversions and baptisms in churches across our land come from Christian homes. The same is true of our church as well.