Mothers Change the World
Dr. Jim Denison
If children were in charge, the world would make much more sense. My son recently sent me these actual test answers given by children:
•What happens during puberty to a boy? He leaves childhood and enters adultery.
•Where was Hadrian’s Wall built? Around Hadrian’s garden.
•Where was the American Declaration of Independence signed? At the bottom.
•Give a reason why people would want to live near power lines. You get your electricity faster.
•What is the highest frequency noise that a human can register? Mariah Carey.
•What is a vibration? There are good vibrations and bad vibrations. Good vibrations were discovered in the 1960’s.
Today is Mother’s Day. No one on earth deserves a day more than mothers.
There was a little girl who, when shown the wedding pictures of her parents, asked her father, “Daddy, is that the day you got Mom to come and work for us?”
Then there was the teacher who had just given her second-grade class a lesson on magnets. She asked a little boy, “Now, my name starts with an ‘M’ and I pick up things. What am I?” The boy replied instantly, “A mother?”
Mothers need all the encouragement they can find. That’s what Anna Jarvis thought when she decided upon her mother’s death in 1905 to make a day in her memory. She copyrighted “Mother’s Day” with the U.S. Patent Office, then wrote governors, state legislators, congressmen, even the president. Finally, in 1914 President Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother’s Day a national observance.
Upon her death in 1948, a wreath of 43 carnations was placed on Anna Jarvis’s grave, because in that year 43 countries celebrated Mother’s Day. Why carnations? Because they were her mother’s favorite flower.
Anna Jarvis had the right idea for our culture, but also for our souls. For mothers have the single greatest influence on their children’s eternal souls. That is the simple point I want to make today.
Mary and Jesus
The story of Jesus begins not with the Son of God but with his mother. Mary was a peasant teenage girl living in the remove village of Nazareth. Her hometown was so small that it is not mentioned a single time in the Old Testament. She had been promised to Joseph by her parents when she was a small girl. Now that she has reached puberty, around 13 years of age, the two had become engaged and would soon be married. She would be an eighth grader in our society.
Now the angel Gabriel appears to her: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28). Luke tells us that “Mary was greatly troubled at his word and wondered what kind of greeting this might be” (v. 29). I know that you’re familiar with the story, but try to imagine it for the first time. Has an angel ever appeared to you? How might you respond?
Gabriel says to her:
Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end (vs. 30-33).
Her son would be the Promised One, the Messiah for whom the Jewish people had been waiting and praying for more than seven centuries. They taught their daughters to pray every night before going to bed that they might be chosen to become the mother of the Messiah. Now Gabriel has come to tell Mary that God has selected her.
But she doesn’t understand: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
This was a surprising fact in her day and town. Nazareth was constructed on a hillside, with a very popular trading route just below. This road was crowded with Roman soldiers, Greek merchants, and world travelers. Many of the village girls dressed and acted so as to attract the men traveling along this route, seeing them as their way out of Nazareth to the larger world. But not Mary—she kept herself pure.
Gabriel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God” (vs. 35-37).
Note Mary’s response: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (v. 38).
In making this commitment, Mary risked her future and even her life. How would her fiancé understand this miracle? She would become pregnant, and he would know that the child was not his. He would have to assume that she had committed adultery. He could divorce her, or bring her before the village to be stoned to death. At best she would be an outcast, a single mother with no future; at worst she would die.
But Mary trusted God with her life, her child, her future. “Servant” translates the Greek word for “slave.” She gave herself completely to God as his possession. He could do with her what he wished, send her where he wanted her to go, ask of her anything he wanted. She would be his, now and for the rest of her life.
And what she was, her Son became.
He would be about his “Father’s business” at the age of 12. He would submit to John’s baptism and his Father’s call to ministry. He would touch lepers, befriend prostitutes, call tax collectors and “sinners.”
Then he would choose in the Garden of Gethsemane to die on our cross for our sins. He would be impaled with spikes through his wrists and heels, stabbed with a Roman spear, and die on a Roman cross. All this he chose to do for his Father when he said, “Not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).