Scriptures: Luke 23:26-31, Matthew 20:20-23, John 19:25, Matthew 20:22-23, Matthew 20:24-28
Today is this year's Mother's "Day," but aren't we more than happy a mother is not only a mother for one day a year? Mothers are mothers for more than the rest of their lives. Mothers are like God. Mothers are eternal. So, stand to your feet moms. Allow us to honor you.
Mother's are influential one way or the other. Are they not? Mothers influence us up, or down. Mothers influence us to be successful, or unsuccessful. Mothers influence us to receive Jesus Christ saving us, or to reject Jesus Christ taking us to destruction.
We will reach into our Luke study and look at a passage. I want to show all moms the danger of rejecting Jesus. We are perhaps familiar with the seven last recorded statements of Jesus on the cross, but are you familiar with the last recorded words of Christ before the cross? What did Jesus say on the way to the place of the skull?
Luke 23:26-31 As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, INCLUDING WOMEN WHO MOURNED AND WAILED FOR HIM. Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; WEEP FOR YOURSELVES AND FOR YOUR CHILDREN. For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the WOMBS THAT NEVER BORE and the breasts that never nursed!' Then "'they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"' For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
The last recorded words of Jesus prior to his crucifixion were a warning to mothers. Jesus said it would be better for those mothers to have never given birth. These were not women who began following Jesus in Galilee. These were "daughters of Jerusalem" and professional mourners like those who mourned at Jairus' house when his daughter died. Minutes before these women were part of the crowd screaming, "Away with this man. Crucify him!" Now they mourned and wailed. Jesus didn't turn to these women and say, "I appreciate your sympathy." Instead he said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children."
Rejecting Jesus carried a serious penalty for those mothers, for their husbands, for their children, and grandchildren. If you attend our church, you don't need me to explain what Jesus meant. Again, and again Jesus warned of a coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple before the end of their generation. It happened A.D 70 in apocalyptic proportion. Those very women were slaughtered by the Roman army. Their husbands were slaughtered or crucified. Their children were slaughtered or taken as slaves. By rejecting Jesus and his teachings they influenced their children to reject Jesus bringing destruction upon themselves, their children, and grandchildren. A warning to mothers was the last words Jesus spoke before going to the cross. Amazing!
Mom, it's a serious issue to reject Jesus. What if these were the last words he said to you? There is an attack on you, your family, your children, and grandchildren. There's an attack on every family, but only some avoid the slaughter. Why? You can avoid the slaughter. I watch moms reject Jesus. I watch the enemy's armies surround and siege their homes, slaughter their marriages, take apart their families stone by stone, and take their children and grandchildren into the slavery of addictions, to prison, or worse. Don't find yourself mourning and wailing for yourself and your children because you rejected Jesus.
Maybe you didn't have a great mom. Likely it's because your mom rejected Jesus. If she was a bad mom, I know she didn't do what Jesus instructed. This influenced you. You watched her mourn and wail for herself and her children. You don't have to go the way she did. You don't have to be a daughter of Jerusalem.
Let's look at an influential mom in contrast.
Matthew 20:20-23 Then the MOTHER OF ZEBEDEE'S SONS came to Jesus WITH HER SONS and, KNEELING DOWN [KJV - worshipping him], asked a favor of him. "What is it you want?" he asked. She said, "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom."
Mrs. Zebedee gets a bad wrap. Preachers say she was manipulative using her influence for her sons. So I ask you. When you pray and bring your children before Jesus on your knees are you being manipulative using your influence for your children? I thought that's what moms do. Jesus didn't say she was manipulative. He explained she didn't understand what she was asking. Obviously Mrs. Zebedee was a forceful mom, and likely a forceful wife, but so was my mom. Moms need to be forceful especially when it comes to their children and Jesus. Jesus nicknamed her sons "sons of thunder" (Mar 3:17). Likely they got this personality trait from mom. She was influential and she raised two influential children who helped change the world - Apostle James Zebedee and Apostle John Zebedee, both apostles of Jesus Christ. What I see is Mrs. Zebedee had a mother's heart.
It says Mrs. Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons. These were grown men, but she remained an influence in their lives because she was involved in her children's spiritual lives. She didn't just pop up one day asking Jesus for a favor. She was involved in his ministry.
There's an amazing little known truth about Mrs. Zebedee. All four gospels tell of women at the cross. Matthew, Mark, and John give names and information. Matthew tells us clearly one of these women was Mrs. Zebedee (Mat 27:56). Mark says the woman's name is Salome (15:40), but John says this woman was "his mother's sister." Mrs. Zebedee was the sister of Mary (Joh 19:25).
John 19:25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, HIS MOTHER'S SISTER, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
Also, Salome, AKA Mrs. Zebedee and Mary's sister, was one of the women who went to the tomb to put spices on the body resurrection morning, but found the tomb empty (Mar 16:1). Mrs. Zebedee was a devoted follower of Jesus. She was with Jesus in Galilee. She followed him to Jerusalem. She was with him at the cross. She went to put spices on his body, but Mrs. Zebedee was an aunt to Jesus. Aunt Salome had a front row seat to watch Jesus from a baby. She knew Jesus as well as anyone. I had some good aunts who loved me, but none of them ever kneeled down to worship me. Questions: What does it take to convince your aunt you are the Messiah, the Son of Man, and the Son of God? Aunt Salome was convinced and she was as involved in the kingdom of God as anyone. She didn't just pop up one day.
A great mom comes with their children to church. She's involved. I heard a preacher say when he was young he had a drug problem. His mom drug him to church, drug him to children's ministries, drug him to camp, and drug him to Jesus. Moms, get involved with your children in children's ministries, student ministries, and even adult ministries.
I read a cute story about a child who kept falling out of bed one night. His mom asked him, "Why are you falling out of bed?" The child said, "I guess I stayed too close to where I got in." Moms, do what Mrs. Zebedee did. Help your children move into the center of what God is doing. Their far less likely to fall out and you're far less likely to mourn and wail.
Mrs. Zebedee had a heart for her children. She also had hope for her children. She hoped her children would be great in the kingdom of God, not only in the kingdom of God. She hoped they would go to the top. I heard this said. Anyone can count the apples on a tree, but it takes someone special to count the trees inside an apple. Moms better than anyone can see the trees of greatness inside their children. No one more than mom can instill and infuse hope into their children. Mom, how many trees are in your apples?
It says Mrs. Zebedee came with her children kneeling down (KJV - worshipping). What impact do you think this visual example had on her children? Mom, your child will never forget observing you kneel in prayer, or lifting your hands in praise and worship. It will impact your children for the remainder of their lives. How did Jesus respond.
Matthew 20:22-23 "You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them. "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered. Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father."
Jesus didn't grant her request, but neither did he deny it. He simply said you don't understand, so be cautious of prayers, mom. Did they get their throne? Well, they got a throne (Luk 22:28-30), but I don't know if there's was on the right and left. After the resurrection, James became a thundering force. The church multiplied as thousands and thousands came to Christ. Thundering James became the primary target and Herod arrested and executed James (Act 12:2). James became the first apostle to die. Did Mrs. Zebedee understand what she was asking? John took care of Mary, the mother of Jesus (Joh 19:27). John thunders still today through his writings of five books in the Bible: the Gospel According to John; 1 John; 2 John; 3 John; and, of course, The Book of Revelation he wrote exiled to the Island of Patmos and was the last apostle to die.
Mom, how are you influencing your children? How are you teaching them to be great?
Matthew 20:24-28 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave -- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Jesus turned this into a teaching moment. We want our children to be great, but our idea of greatness is usually wrong. Even good mothers struggle here. We want our children to be great and to lord it over others. Instead, we should want our children to be great servants. Moms, how many are raising their children to be servants? The measure of a person is not how many servants they have, but rather how many people they serve. A great person is a great servant. So, I ask you this. Why are moms so influential? Why are mothers so great? It's because a great mother is a great servant.
Erma Bombeck, the great theologian (kidding, maybe), the great American humorist, wrote an article about God creating mothers. I won't read the actual article. I give a reference so you can read the original. I will paraphrase it.
An angel observed God working many days on one project. Creation only took him six days, so the angel was inquisitive why this project was taking God so long. So, the angel asked.
God said, "The specs are complicated on this project. It has many moveable parts and must run on coffee and leftovers. It must be able to heal anything with a kiss and a band aid. It must be able to spit shine any face with a licked hankie. It must have six pairs of hands and three pairs of eyes. One pair of eyes to see through closed doors and around corners before asking, 'What are you kids doing in there?' It must have another pair of eyes in the back of its head to see what's attempting to be hidden. And, a third pair of eyes to look at a child and without speaking a word say, 'Stop it now!' or 'I know!' or 'It will be alright.' It must be able to feed a family of six on a pound of hamburger meat and get a nine year old to stand still under a shower."
The Angel shook its head and said, "Lord, take a break. Maybe after some rest you will figure it out."
God said, "I can't take a break. I'm too close to creating something close to myself."
The angel circled the model and said, "It's too soft to do much."
God said, "Yes, soft, but tough. Even you angels can't imagine what this creation can endure."
The angel asked, "But, can it think?"
God said, "Can it think! It can not only think. It can know what you're thinking! And it can reason."
Finally, the angel bent over and touched a drop of water on the model's cheek and said, "It leaks! I told you. It's impossible for one creature to contain everything you're attempting to put into this one."
God said shaking his head, "That's not a leak. It's not a tare. It's a tear."
The angel asked, "What's the tear for?"
God said, "It's for joy. It's for sadness. It's for disappointment. It's for loneliness."
The angel said, "Lord, you are a genius."
God said soberly, "Yes I am, but I didn't put the tear in there."Every great mother sheds tears for their children. I've watched my mother cry over me and my sister. I'll never forget my mom crying when my sister had cancer. I ran away from home, well for two days, when I was about fourteen. Momma found me in the woods and she cried. I'll never forget my wife crying over our children. Something about a mother's tears seems more than God put in there. A mother's tears come from someplace no other creature has or feels. Every mother will shed tears over her children, but there's a huge difference between the mourning and wailing of the daughters of Jerusalem induced by the rejection of Jesus and the tears of great mothers induced by love.
© Life Gate Ministries