Monday, March 24, 2014

“A Request of Love” (John 19:26)

S-1419 3MIL/3A 3/19/2014 Hymns: (O) #182; S #175; (C) # 145

Texts: Psalm 8; 1 John 4:7-19; 19:25-27

Theme: A Request of Love (John 19:26)

Question: “How do you show love while hurting?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, the text is from the Gospel lesson “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, Woman, behold, Your son!’” (John 19:26)


Have you ever said goodbye to someone? It hurts. It tugs at the strings of your heart and causes your cheeks to be wet. Saying goodbye is never easy. No matter what the circumstance is. But it is even more difficult when you read the Word of God that says: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for My name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Mt. 19:29).

I can understand saying good bye to a worker, neighbor or friend. But how in the world do you understand leaving those you love—father, mother, brother or sister? What do we do with the request that Christ teaches? You can’t unless you understand that He is the Divine One who has come to be God in the flesh. What this means is this. God has condescended to suit up with us, so to speak, and live on our turf, without using His divine powers or prerogatives. And as we spend time with Him and in His Word we learn so much that helps us in our journey of faith.

Though we walk with Him and hear Him talk to us, it doesn’t take the sting out of our hearts, the tears out of our eyes and the lump out of our throats.

I remember it like it was yesterday. August 31, 1972 I packed my suitcases, stuffed $500.00 in my socks and loaded the Volvo station wagon, on our way to the airport to come to the USA. Then the time of truth hit. I turned around to say good bye to many family members and friends who came to wish me God’s speed. Tears began to flow freely. In the car the silence was loud. At the airport, the luggage checked and time once more to say goodbye. Embraces hugs and kisses to mom and dad. “Saeedy Baba,”(Goodbye daddy), “Saeedy Yuma” (Goodbye Mom). As soon as I said bye to mom, I started to weep and felt the lump in my throat. PAUSE.

I’m not the first son to leave home and say good bye, neither will I be the last. Many before and many after have and will leave home and it doesn’t get any easier. In the text today we see another Son who said “Goodbye” to His mother. Listen to powerful, profound and poignant Words of the Savior from the cross, Woman, behold Your Son!”

Mary is older now. The hair at her temple is gray. Wrinkles have replaced her youthful skin. Her hands are calloused and sun scorched. She has raised a houseful of children. And now, now she stands beneath the cross on a cold, dark and unforgiving hill and beholds the cruelest event a woman should ever witness—the death of her Son—by a crucifixion.

Yet, as she stand on that woeful Friday, her Son, Jesus—though dehydrated, cracked and scorched lips, lungs crying for air, nerves shattered by nails, thorns embedded in his scalp, with enormous pain, barely alive, with the weight of the world upon His shoulders; still has the presence of mind to fulfill the 4th Commandment and give a measure of healing to both Mary and John that He says: Woman, behold Your Son!”

In Psalm eight, David cried out to the God of heaven saying: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (8:3-4). And the answer is with these powerful, profound and poignant Words: Woman, behold Your Son!” PAUSE.

Beloved in Christ, I wonder what went through Mary’s mind as she witnessed this horrendous torture. The long journey to Bethlehem, perhaps; a baby’s bed made from animals’ hay; Fugitives in Egypt; at home in Nazareth; panic in Jerusalem; “I thought Jesus was with you!” The Carpentry shop or the dinner table laughter?

And then the morning Jesus came in from the shop early, His eyes firmer, His voice more direct. He had heard the news in from Judea. “John is preaching in the desert.” Her Son took off His nail apron, dusted off His hands, and with one last look said goodbye to His mother. They both knew it would never be the same again. In that last look they shared a secret, the full extent of which was too painful to say aloud.

Mary learned that day the heartache that comes from saying goodbye. From then on she was to love her Son, Savior and Lord from a distance; on the edge of the crowd, outside of a packed house, on the shore of the sea. Maybe she was even there when the enigmatic promise was made, “Any­one who has left... mother... for My sake.” (Mt. 19:29).

Mary wasn’t the first one called upon to say goodbye to loved ones for the sake of the Kingdom. Joseph (the beloved son) was called to be an orphan in Egypt. Jonah was called to be missionary in Nineveh. Hannah sent her firstborn son away to serve God in His temple. Daniel was sent from Jerusalem to Babylon. Nehemiah was sent from Susa to Jerusalem, in fact, it seems that goodbye is a word all too prevalent in the Christian’s vocabulary. Missionaries know it well. Those who send them know it, too. The doctor who leaves the city to work in the jungle hospital has said it. So has the Bible translator who lives far from home. Those who feed the hungry, those who teach the lost, and those who help the poor all know the word “goodbye.” PAUSE.

But beloved, what kind of God would put people through such hardships and heart wrenching moments? What kind of God would give you families and then ask you to leave them? What kind of God would fill your life with friends and then asks you to say goodbye?

The God of the Bible, who knows that the deepest love is built not on passion and romance; but in the giving of the greatest sacrifice—the sacrifice offered on a cross. It is the same God who knows that we are only pilgrims and that eternity is so close that any “Goodbye” is in reality a “See you tomorrow.” In truth it is the God who did it Himself. A God who said, “Woman, behold Your Son!”

But why would the Son of God say and do this? So that you and I would never spend eternity without Him. He did all of this, the goodbye, the moist eyes, the tug on His heart, the pain and anguish that being torn apart brings—all because of you. But He didn’t stop there.

He suffered more. He endured the punishment of pierced hands, feet and side for you. So that you and I would never be alone to be devoured by the evil one-satan. He did it so that you and I would spend eternity with the God of love.

Yes, tonight, know that the request of love was done for you and you and you, so that you may rejoice in Christ’s accomplishments and live in this love eternally. No wonder we can find HOPE in the most unlikeliest place—the cross. Amen.


Now the peace…

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