First, let me begin by wishing all our moms a Happy Mother Day.
As I was thinking about Mother’s Day, it dawned on me God could have populated this world countless ways. We could have all come into this world some other way other than by a mom and a dad. Because God is God, there is no limit to the ways He could have populated this planet. But God chose family as the best way to do it. So, the day we are born, we are born into a relationship with a mom and dad, a grandma and a grandpa, possibly other siblings and other relatives.
And as Jesus is dying on the cross, interestingly, relationships are on His mind. It shows us just how important relationships are to Christ that He would mention them in His final words. Remember the premise of this sermon series is the final words of a person near death are important words, deliberate words, words we would benefit from by paying carefully attention to. So, it would profit us on this Mother’s Day to hear Jesus’ words about relationships and make some applications to our life.
So, if you have your Bible turn with me to John 19:26-27. When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Let me set the picture for you. Jesus is hanging on the cross. Mary, His mother, is there watching the scene play out. Most theologians believe prior to this point Joseph, His father, had died. And so, in the Jewish tradition, it would be the responsibility of the oldest male child to take care of his mother, namely Jesus, and now that He is near death it is His responsibility to make arrangements for her care. And in doing so Jesus teaches us some valuable lessons.
Point #1 — If Jesus focused on relationships as He hung dying from the cross, then I believe we should make relationships a priority in our life.
You may be saying: OK, I see how Jesus took care of His mother in His final words. OK, I see how Jesus valued relationships by thinking about His mother as He was dying, but how do I go about making relationships a priority in my life?
Point #2 — Don’t neglect the importance of needing a spiritual family in your life.
Jesus places Mary, His mother, with John. Now Jesus had other brothers and sisters but He chooses to place Mary in the care of John. John is not a blood relative, but a spiritual relative and Jesus is emphasizing to us He places just as much importance on being spiritual relatives as He does on being blood relatives.
I believe Jesus is making a very bold statement. In your life you are born with relatives by birth, but once you are born again you have spiritual relatives. You need both physical blood relatives and spiritual relatives to be complete.
As a preacher I hear people tell me all the time, I am a Christian but I don’t go to church. I get my church on the radio; I get my church on the Internet; or I get my church on television. And my response is you get preaching on the radio, the Internet and TV. But you don’t get family. You don’t get relationship. And God is all about family and relationship.
The writer in Hebrew picks upon that in Hebrews 10:25 (NIV). Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Jesus did not establish a spiritual family just to give us something more to have to deal with; to add one more thing to our busy schedule. There was a survey done by Harris Polls in September 2016 that showed an average of 72% of Americans deal with the issue of loneliness. I can promise you if you are actively involved with your physical family and you are actively involved with your spiritual family, you will not experience loneliness. For those who experience loneliness, one of those two things are broken.
Point #3 — Don’t neglect the importance of attempting to restore broken relationships. In Week One of this series, we were shown the first phrase Jesus uttered from the cross was, “Father, give them, for they know not what they do.”
Picture in your mind the scene as Jesus uttered those words, “Father, give them”. Jesus is dying on the cross and right below are these Roman soldiers throwing dice for Jesus’ clothing and Jesus offers them forgiveness. Was the relationship with the Roman Soldiers restored when Jesus offered forgiveness? No, because the Roman soldiers did not ask for forgiveness. They were not interested in receiving forgiveness; they were interested in throwing their dice for his clothes.
Which brings me to my point! Relationships are usually broken because one has not asked for forgiveness or because the other person refuses to forgive or both (there has been no asking and there has been no forgiving.) Unless both the offender asks for forgiveness and the one who is offended forgives, relationships will be broken.
So, Jesus as He is dealing with relationship as He is hanging from the cross, reminds me to do some self-examination. Is there someone I need to go to and ask for forgiveness? Is there someone I need to forgive?
Point #4 — As Christians we need to be quick to ask for forgiveness when we have offended someone, and we need to be quick to forgive when the other person extends an apology.
Broken relationships are inevitable because there are going to be times someone refuses to apologize and say they are sorry; and there will be times the other person will refuse to forgive. So, what are you to do?
Romans 12:18 has the answer. In the NIV it says, If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Are you living at peace with everyone?
Point #5 — Don’t neglect the need to be intentional in establishing relationships. Do not allow yourself to become involved in an unhealthy relationship.
Jesus was very intentional from the cross as to where Mary needed to stay after Jesus’ death. He was not hesitant where Mary should stay. He did not say to Himself, “where can I place my momma where she will be safe.” Jesus knew His relationship with John was a healthy relationship. Jesus said, Mary, you stay with the disciple I love. I know he will take care of you the rest of your days. And the Bible confirms that is exactly what John did when it says, from that time on.
I believe we all know which relationships we have in our life that are healthy and those relationships that are unhealthy. The problem with unhealthy relationships is that they are not going to bring you closer to God but rather they are going to move you further apart. The Scripture tells us that 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV), Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
Know what is interesting to me? You get in trouble and you don’t run to those unhealthy relationships for help, you run to those healthy relationships, which tells me we all know those relationships that are healthy and those who are not.
Let me tell you, young people, don’t date just anyone. If they are not a believer and you are, then you don’t need to date them. Most likely you think you can get them to come to know Christ but what I see happen more often than not is they move you away from Christ.
I know what you are thinking, I am not marrying them, I am just dating them. No harm in that. But, yes there is, you don’t know that moment, that time your heart tells you you have fallen in love with him or her. And then it is too late because nothing is going to stop you from being with them. Not even the Scripture that says, Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
Point #6 — The church when it is functioning properly looks like a family more than anything else.
Jesus says to Mary “here is your son” referring to John. And to John, Jesus said “here is your mother.” John was not Mary’s physical son. Their relationship was spiritual. And so, what Jesus was saying is He saw the church He was forming by His death and resurrection as a family.
The Apostle Paul picks up on that idea in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12. In the NIV, he states, We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
He refers to his ministry to the church as the ministry of a mother and father in the home. So that tells me if you are a member of this church and don’t feel like family, we are not doing our job. If you are visiting, and you don’t feel welcome in our church home, we are not doing our job as a family because family makes visitors welcomed in their home.
Since Jesus spent His last breath on the cross focused on relationships, then we need to make relationships a priority in our life. Are you making relationships a priority in your life?
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. — Leo Buscaglia