• Introduction: Today is Mothers’ Day.  According to the Britannica on-line[1], a woman named Anna Jarvis honored her mother with a memorial service held on May 12th, 1907. This started a trend which swept throughout the country.  By 1914, President Wilson made it a national holiday.  Anna Jarvis must have had a good experience with her mother to the point of honoring her for her mother’s public service of organizing women’s groups which promoted friendship and health.  Not all of us have had good experiences with our mother.  However, whether good or bad experience with your mother, she is in the position the Lord placed her.  And because the Lord put her in the position of authority, that entitles her respect and honor.
    • The Apostle Paul quoted the 4th commandment - Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may turn out well for you, and that you may live long on the earth. (Eph 6:2-3 quoting Deu 5:16)
    • For many people, honoring their father or mother is not a problem.  They love their parents.  I didn’t always have a good relationship with my parents, but I am grateful my father is considering moving to southern Arizona.  I would love to have him back in my life, and not be separated by 3,000 miles of distance.  I have an excellent relationship with my wife Karla’s parents.  It is easy to honor parents we love and cherish.  In fact, it’s easy to honor and love anyone we prize in our life.  How easy is it to love, honor, and cherish our Lord?  This is the question we will contemplate from today’s message taken from our Epistle reading.
  • Let Us Pray:  Lord God, Heavenly Father, our word for consideration on today concerns showing love for You by keeping your commandments.  Lord, we fail at that request so often!  Please send Your Spirit to work in us true faith and love so that with all You have given us and with all we do, we somehow bring honor and glory to You.  We bring these petitions before You, Heavenly Father, through Your Son Christ and by the aid of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
  • Background: Let me address all the ladies of the congregation for a moment. Don’t worry guys, I’ll get to you in a moment. 😊 Ladies, you are all mothers to someone – even if you are childless. The Apostle Paul at the end of his letter to the Romans goes through a list of people he wants to greet.  He was most likely writing this letter from Corinth which was a bit of a distance, but nonetheless close enough that he would have encountered other Christians at one time or another.  One of the people Paul mentioned in his greetings was a person named Rufus.  We think this is the same Rufus who was a son of Simon of Cyrene.  If you recall, Simon of Cyrene was the guy a Roman soldier forced to carry Jesus’ cross to Golgatha after Jesus stumbled with it.  We sometimes have a tendency when reading the bible to gloss over the names of people, but God made sure certain names appear in the bible for a reason.  That therefore makes those people important.  This is why some theologians think this Rufus of Rom 16:13 is the same Rufus who was son of Simon of Cyrene.  Anyway, Paul’s greeting went like this - 13 Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine[2].  “…His mother and mine.”  It depends how you want to punctuate that phrase, but the way I read that is the mother of Rufus was so accommodating to Paul in his ministry that Paul considered Rufus’ mom like a mom to Paul[3].  Women are not allowed by God to administer the sacraments, and we can get into that at another time.  But that doesn’t mean women cannot be part of the ministry.  We have an example here with the Apostle Paul receiving the care and nurturing of a woman to the point of being like another mother to him! Jesus also had many women who followed Him throughout His 3yr ministry.
    • Okay guys, time to tune in once again.  At the risk of suddenly sounding transgender and joining with the God-creation deniers who say there are more than just two sexes, even us guys are lumped in with mothers.  In previous sermons, you have heard it said that we are all adopted sons through Christ. We have sonship through our baptism given to us by Christ to cleanse us of our sins and keep us in the true faith. Ladies are suddenly adopted sons through baptism.  Well, Jesus asked in Mat ch#12, 48 But Jesus replied to the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?” 49 And extending His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold: My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother, and sister, and mother.[4]” We know all of the disciples were male, so for them to be referred to by Jesus as “mother and brothers” means something more than just whether a person is male or female.  All who do the will of God the Father are mothers, brothers, and sisters.  In this context, we can have a Happy Mothers’ Day as both someone honoring our mother, wife, and any female for that matter on today, and also being honored as one who does the will of God the Father.
    • I have another New Testament example of males exhibiting the attributes of a mother.  This one is in the first of two letter the Apostle Paul wrote to a church in the ancient Grecian city of Thessalonica.  I believe Paul wrote his two letters to the Thessalonians in the early 50’s AD.   Listen as I read a portion of 1Th ch#2 -  For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is our witness— nor did we seek honor from people, either from you or from others, though we could have asserted our authority as apostles of Christ. But we proved to be gentle among you. As a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own childrenin the same way we had a fond affection for you and were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us[5].  The Apostle Paul must have visited Thessalonica prior to winter of 51/52 when this letter was written, because he is referring to a prior visit with them. He now is following up on that visit with this letter.  Paul was a man, but notice in this letter his reference to being gentle like a mother nursing a child.  Paul didn’t ever mince words.  Everything to Paul was black & white.  And yet, he was apparently not harsh with the baby Christians who had just come to faith in Thessalonica.  This is something us guys need to remember in our dealings with others.
  • Application: Martin Luther wrote the Large Catechism around 1527.  He wrote the Large Catechism first and then abbreviated that into the Small Catechism.  In his explanation of the 4th commandment from the Large Catechism, he wrote about love and honor to devote towards parents.  Quoting from the Tappert translation into English – To fatherhood and motherhood God has given the special distinction, above all estates that are beneath it, that He commands us not simply to love our parents but also to honor them.  With respect to brothers, sisters, and neighbors in general He commands nothing higher than that we love them.  Thus He distinguishes father and mother above all other persons on earth, and places them next to Himself.  For it is a much greater thing to honor than to love.  Honor includes not only love but also deference, humility, and modesty, directed (so to speak) toward a majesty hidden within them[6].  Martin Luther interpreted the 4th Commandment as given deference, humility, and modesty to mothers and fathers almost as if the majesty of God were in them. In fact, Luther made it clear, parents are in the position of authority over us as God’s representatives.  If we dishonor our mothers and fathers, we might just as well be dishonoring God.
    • What does the honoring of mothers look like, not just on Mothers’ Day, but every day?  Paul wrote about this in a broad sense to his son in the faith, Timothy - Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, and to the younger men as brothers, to the older women as mothers, and to the younger women as sisters, in all purity[7]. Can a mother ever be wrong?  Be careful before you answer! 😊 News flash: mothers are sinners just like you & me. When they are wrong, Paul is saying here, by inspiration from God, that we need to be gentle with our correction. And that gentleness applies not just to biological- or step-moms, but to all women older than you.  If there are no other women older than you, you’re not totally off the hook, because Paul makes it clear that younger women are to be treated like a sister.  This coaching by Paul is based in Pro 15:1 - A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger[8].  That’s what honor and respect looks like.
    • When Jesus separated the sheep from the goats in Mat ch#25, He said – “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.[9]”  Jesus when through a short list of good deeds done for others by the sheep who were to inherit the kingdom prepared for them.  Compassion and respect shown in the form of good deeds done to the least of the human race, were done as if done to Jesus Himself.  It’s Mothers’ Day and so we focus on the females in our life, whether they be mothers or sisters.  God has made clear on how He wants His people to treat one another and not just females.  With what Jesus said in Mat ch#25, if we do good things and stay away from doing the bad, not only have we done good for the people in our life, we have also done those things to God.
  • Analysis: This is where we get to the text for today in 1Jn 5:03 - For it is the love of God, that we might keep His commandments. And the commandments do not weigh us down. 
    • We’ve just heard from the Lord’s word about doing good deeds for others.  We should honor mothers and fathers in our life.  We should show respect for one another.  But God doesn’t want us going through life thinking, “I guess I have to get a Mothers’ Day card, so I can show love.”  What does that sort of attitude say about commitment? Are we to conclude we should just check the boxes on the calendar for days Hallmark says we need to buy their cards and we call it done?  No; God wants us to honor and respect people out of genuine love and not out of obligation.  He’d like to see us have a heart that wants to please those around us to the extent it depends upon us.
      • For instance, is it a heavy obligation or burden to fix a favorite dish for someone?  Or, how about making those peanut butter cookies that have the chocolate kiss stuck in the center?  You would make them just because you know someone in your life would enjoy that, and not because you have an obligation.
      • Another example of pleasing someone not out of obligation is to just visit with them.  Does it weigh you down to visit with them?
    • The Apostle Peter reminded all of us in Christ we are a royal priesthood (1Pe 2:5,9).  We all by God’s grace are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people for God’s own possession.  However, do we always act like those choice people?  Listen to the Lord’s complaints about how He was treated in the past as I read sections of Mal 1:6-13 - “‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord…to you, the priests who despise My name! But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is to be despised.’ And when you present a blind animal for sacrifice, is it not evil? Or when you present a lame or sick animal, is it not evil? So offer it to your governor! Would he be pleased with you, or would he receive you kindly?” says the Lord … 11 …My name shall be great among the nations,” says the Lord... 12 “But you are profaning it by your saying, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’ 13 You also say, ‘See, how tiresome it is!’ And you view it as trivial,” says the Lord…, “and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I accept it from your hand?” says the Lord[10].  The Lord was justifiably and royally ticked off with His people at the time of Malachi which was 400yrs before Christ was born.  No one seemed to be showing honor to Him.  They would toss something together as an offering on the appointed times of the year, much like the Hallmark greeting cards times of the year we have in 2021, and call it done.  There really was no regard for whether the offering of time, talent, or treasure was something which would be pleasing to the Lord.  Follow the commandments of the Lord?  Yeah, we can do that three times a year, and that’s it.  Otherwise, I’m busy with other things.  Don’t you think the Lord is hurt when we display an attitude like that?
    • If we can do good things for those we love, why would it be any different than doing things for the Lord out of love for Him?  Your mother probably did a lot in your life to get you off to a good start.  I know of parents paying for a child’s entire undergraduate tuition bill.  My own dad did that for me so I would get off to a good start in a career.  That was no small feat to accomplish, especially for me having gone to a private engineering college.  That education got me into a lot of places throughout my career.  It also provided lasting benefits, as I still use some of the skills I learned back in the 1980’s.
      • Jesus said, “15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.[11]”  He didn’t just say it once to His disciples on the night one of those same disciples handed Him over to the mob determined to kill Him.  A paragraph later in John ch#14, Jesus again makes clear on what pleases Him - 21 The one who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will reveal Myself to him.[12]”  People throughout the ages have wondered what will please God.  It’s pretty simple if you think about it: learn what He likes, and then go do it.  We learn about what He likes through His word.  The Ten Commandments are a good start.  But Jesus throughout His ministry provided refinement on what those Ten Commandments mean in a practical sense.  Coming to church each week and staying for bible class are good ways to get into God’s word and find out what pleases Him.  Daily devotions are also fruitful in learning God’s word and practical ways of keeping His word as our text for today indicated.
  • Conclusion: Let me repeat the text for today in 1Jn 5:03 - For it is the love of God, that we might keep His commandments. And the commandments do not weigh us down.  Parents and peers are God’s representatives.  We saw the connection in the passages I cited earlier and you can review on the back of your bulletin.
    • When we treat each other with honor and respect, we ultimately do it to the Lord.  It’s hard to imagine a 1st century slave somehow bringing honor to the Lord by being a good slave, but at least listen for a moment to what Paul wrote in Eph 6:5-9 - Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With goodwill render service, as to the Lord, and not to people, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, he will receive this back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him[13].
    •  The reason we are to keep the commandments is not out of obligation.  The Apostle John in our text stated it is our love shown to God when we keep His commandments.  God didn’t give the commandments to create heavy burdens on us. He did it to separate His people from the rest of the fallen, sinful world; i.e. separate the sheep from the goats. We are asked to act like the King’s kids.  How are the King’s kids supposed to act?  We find in His word how we love Him, and love one another.  And when we get the commandments integrated into all things we say and do, we remain in His love, just as Jesus kept His Father’s commandments and remained in His love.  Jesus faithfully kept the commandments of the Father even to death on a cross.  As we have observed throughout this Easter season, because of Jesus’ innocent suffering and death, and His subsequent resurrection from the dead, we too will rise from the dead to never die again. He will be our God and we will be His people eternally.  This is most certainly true!


[1] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Mothers-Day

[2] Rom 16:13 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rom+16&version=NASB

[3] Middendorf, Michael P., Concordia Commentary on Romans 9-16, Concordia Publishing House, St Louis, MO, p.1565 agrees with this contention

[4] Mat 12:48-50 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+12&version=NASB

[5] 1Th 2:5-8 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1th+2&version=NASB

[6] Tappert, Theodore G., The Book of Concord, Large Catechism, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA, 1959, p.379

[7] 1Ti 5:1-2 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1ti+5&version=NASB

[8] Pro 15:1 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%2015&version=NASB

[9] Mat 25:40b from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+25&version=NASB

[10] Mal 1:6-13 – from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mal+1&version=NASB

[11] John 14:15 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+14&version=NASB

[12] John 14:21 - IBID

[13] Eph 6:5-9 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=eph+6&version=NASB