Sunday, June 10, 2007

Honor Your Father and Your Mother

Second Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Luke 7:11-17

“And Jesus gave him to his mother.”

God is your Father. Jesus is your Brother. And the Church is your Mother.

That we are to honor God our Father is as obvious as the fact that God is our Father. The Bible unquestionably and often states that He is our Father and that all honor is due Him.

That Jesus is our Brother may not be as obvious. Part of this may be because we in no way want to give the impression that Jesus is not God. Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, is true God and is due all honor. But here is where we see the amazing love and action of God—He became a man. Not only does He love us, He saves us. Not only does He provide salvation for us, He Himself saves us. He is God over all, yet humbled Himself to become part of the creation. He who is our Lord also now calls Himself our Brother. Hebrews says He is not ashamed to call us brothers. Romans says that He is the firstborn among many brothers.

That the Church is our Mother may not be obvious at all. With the exception of Jesus, everyone born is the result of the union of their father and their mother. Jesus was born of a virgin as a result of conception by the Holy Spirit. We are born of our mother as a result of conception by both our father and mother. But we are born a second time. We are born also of our spiritual Mother. The early Church Father Cyprian said: “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother.” The Large Catechism says that the Church is “the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God.”

In this little story of Jesus bringing the man back to life we see Jesus’ compassion on the woman, just as God had compassion on the woman in the Old Testament reading in restoring her son to life. Both were widows. They had already lost their husband, now their only son.

But there is so much more here than Jesus being compassionate to them in their grief. In fact, there’s much more here even than Jesus raising someone from death. After all, both the boy in the Old Testament reading and the man in the Gospel reading met their death again later on. We’re not just hearing about how wonderful it was that those women in their need were helped. We’re being shown by Jesus what He does for us.

Luke says that Jesus gave him to his mother. This man had been brought into life through birth from his mother. Now after dying and being restored to life he was given back to her. This is what happens to us in Baptism. Jesus gives us to our Mother. Our Mother is the Church. Jesus is the Great Physician. When you’re born the physician gives you to your mother. When you’re Baptized Jesus gives you to your mother—the Church.

He raises you up to new life. You’re dead. You’re living and breathing, but spiritually you’re dead. You may as well be in a coffin like the guy in the funeral procession. So Jesus gives you to your Mother, the Church. This is where we really see that the Scriptures come alive. They are not just stories to help us understand that God loves us and did some really amazing things a long time ago. They are the actual Word of God which impart to us His blessings. Namely, they bring us dead people back to life.

We might ask, if Jesus healed people back then and brought people to life why doesn’t He do it today? The point of what Jesus was doing back then was not to bring the person back to life or heal the person of their disease. The main thing was to show us that this is what God does for us. Today. Here. Now. Eternally. If all Jesus came to do was heal people and bring them to life, then why did they eventually die anyway? The family had to go through all the grief again. And why did Jesus restrict Himself to such a small area of the world? Why didn’t He get to as many people as possible throughout the world to heal and raise to life?

Because that’s not why He came. He came to die. He came to conquer death. And not just physical death. We grieve at the loss of our loved ones as the poor widows did who lost those closest to them. We know that we will one day die also. But if we don’t see that it’s eternal death we’re up against, then being healed or raised from the dead isn’t going to do us any good. Jesus came to conquer the eternal death we deserve by dying in our place. He buttressed this victory by Himself rising from the grave.

We look at that man who was being carried to his grave and see that we too are dead. Spiritually, we cannot live or move or breathe. We have no life within us. But in Baptism we are born anew. The Holy Church not only gives us new life but sustains us in this new life. God has given us our Mother so that we may be nourished in the faith. In the Church we receive Absolution. We are constantly fed on the forgiveness of sins. We continually go back to our Mother, the Church, so that we may be sustained in the life our Lord has given us through Her. In His Holy Church our Lord gives us His very Body and Blood for us to eat and drink.

Elijah gave the boy who was given new life to his mother. God gave Paul to his Mother, the Church, the very Mother he had been trying to destroy. Jesus gave the young man who was raised to life to his mother. Jesus gives us to our Mother.

Honor your Mother. Give honor to the one who has given you birth and sustains you in the faith. You honor Her by being faithful in those things She provides for you for your salvation. And in so doing you honor your Father who has graciously bestowed this gift on you. When you give honor to your Father you will constantly rejoice in your Brother, the one through whom all this is possible. The one in whom we receive new life through our Mother the Church because of His giving of Himself on the cross and in His Supper.

When you see that Jesus has given you to your Mother, you will find that He has given this new life to you so that you will not die again but live. Your Mother, the Church, is the source of your life eternally. All honor is due your eternal God who gives life to you and gives to you an eternal place in His Holy Church. Amen.



Anonymous said...

I am a regular reader of your sermons. This makes me think again about the phrase "Honor Your Father and Your Mother." Keep those sermons coming.
Melodee Rearden
member of St. Paul Lutheran Church
Rockford, IL

rev.will said...

Thanks Melodee!