In the early 20th century a woman from West Virginia named Anna Jarvis began petitioning prominent leaders, including President Woodrow Wilson, to establish a national holiday which honored mothers. By 1914 “Mother’s Day” in America had taken root. Yet it comes as little surprise that less than a decade latter, Ms. Jarvis decried the commercialization of Mother’s Day.
Is this holiday really necessary for the Christian? That is, do we need a special day which encourages us to “honor our mothers”? After all, hasn’t our Lord commanded us to honor our mothers every day?
Listen to what the Lord says about breaking His fourth Commandment: “For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him” (Leviticus 20:9). The death sentence was to be carried out for those among the children of Israel who would speak curses against their mothers.
In Deuteronomy chapter 21, the Lord says if a disobedient son would not listen to the voice of his mother (or father) even when they disciplined him, the parents were to bring their son to the elders of the city and say, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard” (21:19). All the men of the city were then to stone that rebellious son for dishonoring his mother and father. The hoped-for effect was that all Israel would hear and fear the Lord, knowing that He is serious about our giving love and respect to those He has placed over us.
By the days of Christ, the Pharisees were teaching the people that it was a greater work to serve God than to honor one’s parents. Yet Jesus echoed the words of Moses, “For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death’” (Matthew 19:5). That which God commanded to be etched in stone by Moses was re-emphasized by the Son of God 1500 years later!
Speaking to New Testament believers, the Apostle Paul repeats the importance of the fourth Commandment for our lives in Christ. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
Confronted with the law of God, we shudder to think of the times that we have disrespected and dishonored our mothers. Maybe it was that foolish choice we made which made her ashamed that we were hers. Maybe it was those quick-tempered, unloving words we spoke which brought her to tears. Maybe it was our laziness which frustrated her so that she needed to tell us several times to turn off the TV and clean our rooms. And this for the woman who carried us in her body for nine months and then painfully brought us into this world! Needless to say, “honoring” and “your mother” have not always gone together in our lives. The mere fact that we need a “Mother’s Day” to remind us to honor our mother speaks against us, doesn’t it?
Here too we are reminded of one more reason why the Son of God became man. He came to be a Substitute for us in every way. This includes being the perfect child. We read in the Gospels that from childhood on, Jesus (though Himself their God and Lord) was submissive to Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:51).
Even in His wretched, dying hours, the Son of Mary honored His mother by making sure she would be taken care of, telling His beloved disciple John to look on her as his own mother. “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” (John 19:26-27) Is this not a wonder?! There on the cross, being punished for all the times we BROKE the fourth Commandment, Jesus Himself was KEEPING it as our divine Substitute! What amazing grace!
No, we should not need a day to honor our mothers. Yet what a wonderful reminder of Jesus’ substitutionary perfection in always honoring His mother for us and His substitutionary sacrifice to cleanse us for failing to honor our mothers every day and in every way.
May the Lord richly bless our mothers who bore us, cared for us, and loved us. Let us thank Him for our Christian mothers who brought us the good news of the perfect Son of Mary! For this, especially, we thank the Lord for you, Mom!
May the Lord help us by His Holy Spirit, that we may always bear the good fruit of faith of honoring our mothers in word and deed! Amen.