7th Sunday of Easter
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus, whose love is even better than a mom’s, dear friends in Christ, A little while ago a fellow pastor asked my wife, “So what do you do?” And she answered, “I stay at home with the kids.” And he said (and he’s single), “So…you just stay at home and play with the kids all day?” And all-of-a-sudden my wife thought to herself, “What do I do?? Is that all I do?” Maybe for a moment she forgot just how important her calling as a mother is. So what does a modern day mom do? What are her duties? Well, a website, salary.com, has delineated some of the modern 2016 jobs that a mom has to do, here they are: Executive housekeeper, executive chef, day care center teacher, facilities manager, network administrator, psychologist, senior janitor, taxi driver, laundry manager, chief executive officer, accountant, event planner, maintenance supervisor, groundskeeper, interior designer, logistics analyst, nutritionist, plumber, staff nurse, buyer, athletic trainer, photographer, social media marketing, manager, academic advisor, tailor, recreational therapist, coach, tax accountant, judge/magistrate, school teacher. Do you agree?
I think we all have to admit that the work of a good mother is extremely valuable and important. But if you noticed, the most important work of a mother was missing from that list, wasn’t it? Perhaps it’s easy for the most important work of a mother to get sort of lost in the midst of all the work that she does. From the washing dishes to picking up toys to sweeping the floor to sweeping the floor again to the giving advice, there’s one thing that a Christian mother does that far outweighs every other task that she does. The most important thing for a Christian mother is having a heart like her Savior’s. Because it’s from a heart like her Savior’s that leads her to do the most important work.
Here in our text we see yet another window into the heart of Jesus. This is once again Maundy Thursday evening. The next day Jesus is going to be hung on a cross to die. But on Maundy Thursday Jesus prays. This is the last part of what has become known as Jesus’ high priestly prayer. It’s his “high priestly prayer” because he prays interceding on behalf of others.
First, who is it that Jesus is praying for here? “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” He’s praying for those who will be brought to faith in Him as their Savior through the word of the Apostles. What does that tell us about the importance of these NT books of the Bible? Jesus takes it for granted that the message that the Apostles are going to leave will for the rest of time have the power to create and strengthen faith in people. “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” That’s because this message that is given us in God’s Word is not just the word of people, it is the very Word of God with the very power of God Himself attached to it. Jesus is praying for every heart changed by His message. In other words, 2000 years ago, Jesus was praying for you! And Jesus hasn’t stopped praying. The book of Hebrews tells us that He always lives to make intercession for His people.
Second, what is Jesus praying for? Jesus prays for really two things. First, Jesus prays for unity. “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them eve as you have loved me.” Jesus is praying for unity. So what does this mean? Is Jesus saying that we should just brush aside any differences that we might have? Is this some kind of emotional unity where we all just hold hands and try to get along? Is this a unity that should ignore different teachings different church bodies have? Well, that wouldn’t be unity, would it? True unity is based on holding on to the whole truth of God’s Word.
Whatever kind of unity Jesus is praying for is a unity that exists inside the Trinity between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Inside the Trinity there exists a love beyond our capacity to understand. It is a love that is holy and pure, which honors one another, a loving holiness. There is only one God and the more that we- as Christians- grow closer to this one God the more He lives in each of us and takes up residence in us and the more He does so, the more He shapes our hearts, our attitudes, our minds. It’s a unity with Jesus that is displayed as we live godly and holy lives. And the result? “that the world may believe that you have sent me,” “to let the world know that you sent me.” People are to see us and think, “Wow! Jesus must be the Savior from sin because look at the holiness and godliness of His people!” You see the worst detraction from the gospel is sinning Christianity- when people who claim to know God but live as unbelievers. But the reverse is true: When the character of Christ lives in and through you and me, people notice and they see that we’re different, there’s an attraction and a desire to know what it is that makes us who we are.
So, Jesus prays that we be so united to Him through His Word that He lives in us and we live such godly lives with one another that people become so attracted to the gospel because they see the character of Christ in us.
And the second thing that Jesus prays for is our personal presence with Him in glory. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” This is absolutely staggering. The Son of God prays to God the Father that we might be with him in heaven. That’s the goal, that’s at center of Jesus’ heart – that you might be with Him in heaven. That’s why Jesus said, “I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known.” Jesus wants you to be in heaven. What’s at Jesus’ very heart? It’s the salvation of souls. He wants us to be in heaven and He wants to reach more and more through us.
Is that at the center of your heart? Do you have the same love of Jesus, which is a love that desires nothing less than the salvation of souls? Do you want nothing less than more and more people to be in glory with you? Do you live such a godly life to make the Christian faith attractive to others? Do you live your life to make Christ known?
It’s so easy for us to get distracted and lose our priorities. We think life is all about something else, like getting more friends. We think life is all about getting more stuff or getting ahead. Specifically, as fathers and mothers maybe we think the most important thing is for our children to behave- so we lose our temper when they don’t behave. We think the most important thing is for our children to be star athletes – so we push them, give them our highest praise only when they play well, or make sure we get them to practice but skip time with them in God’s Word. Or, we think the most important thing is for our children to succeed in life, to go to college, to earn a degree, to get a successful job. While those things are nice, they’re not the most important thing. And when we teach by our words or example that something else – other than God is the most important thing- not only are we sinning, but we’re also leading our children to think the same thing. And what’s Jesus’ warning for anyone who leads a child astray? “It would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.” I’ve failed, you’ve failed, we all have failed to keep the most important thing the most important thing.
That’s why we need to remember Jesus’ prayer here. Jesus prayed for the most important thing. Jesus didn’t only pray for you and me, He did the most important thing. He loved you with a love better than the best mother. He said to you, “I’ll be your mother, your father, your friend, and your lover.” And he did. He chose to have a mother himself, to be born into this world, he chose to keep God His number one ambition and priority in life. Then He willingly laid down His life for our sins so that we might have eternal life. He prayed it and He meant it and He brought it about, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory.” And He lives to make His grace known.
It’s that love of Jesus that inspires and motivates fathers and mothers to love their children. You see, Jesus loves you even though you don’t deserve it. That means you can love others even though they don’t deserve it. Jesus’ love is patient and kind, just and right, consistent, Jesus always listens. It’s those aspects of Jesus’ love that inspires and motivates moms (and dads) to be all those things to their children.
So, when parents by their words and actions reflect the heart of Jesus to their children, they are giving their children what is most important. When mom reads through Bible stories with her children, prays with her children, talks about their Sunday school lesson, brings them to church – even when it’s difficult, lives a Christian life, she’s giving her children what is most important: Jesus. And so, you may not be able to give your children or your grandchildren everything they want. That’s OK! Because if you’re giving them Jesus, you’re giving them what they really, really need! You’re giving them what is priceless! What really matters!
That’s what makes a mother’s job so valuable! It’s not that you’re the executive chef, or nutritionist, or social media marketer for your family. You get to be God’s instrument. It’s an aspect of the amazing grace of our God that He chooses to use sinful human beings – like mothers and fathers- as His instruments. When a mother has the privilege and honor of sharing with her children the precious truths of God’s Word, God Himself is there, and God the Holy Spirit uses that message to work faith, to strengthen faith in HIS children. When a mother continues to listen, influence, guide, and direct her children as they grow older and model her faith to them, God is at work. When a mother her whole life prays Jesus’ prayer for her children, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am” and continues to make Christ known to them their whole lives, God is at work. And could there be anything more precious than that?
What an incredible high calling God has given to Christians, to parents, to mothers! What incredibly great honor God gives to mothers! You get to give to your children what is most important in all of life: God’s Word, the message of Jesus, the message of the forgiveness of sins!
Jesus’ heart desired the most important thing for His people: salvation. He prayed about it. Let’s each make a commitment this week as fathers, mothers, grandparents, as Christians, to have Jesus’ heart and pray this prayer: Father, use me to make Christ known. Amen.