Last week I wrote about the importance of understanding all of scripture to be able to recognize Jesus (see here). The story of the walk to Emmaus and the gathering of the disciples on the first Eater as recorded in Luke 24:13-52 emphasizes this. When two disciples despondently walked the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus in a light cloud of dust from the road and in the haze of confusion stirred up by their shattered dreams and their dashed hopes, Jesus came as a stranger to walk alongside them. After he reproved them for being slow of heart to believe all that the prophets declared, he took them on a journey through the scriptures beginning with Moses and strolling through all of the prophets. It was only after this stroll through the written word of God, that they were then able to recognize Jesus in the breaking of bread. In the gathering with the other disciples immediately following this, Luke again emphasizes that Jesus “opened their minds to understand the scriptures,” (24:45), again all of them; this time Luke specifies “Moses, the prophets, and the psalms” (24:44). Undoubtedly all of the scriptures are important for us to be able to recognize Jesus. When we begin to dismiss certain sections or passages as some throughout church history have been wont to do, we will most certainly end up missing Jesus altogether at worst, or at least we’ll end up with a truncated and skewed vision of who he is and what he is all about. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 succinctly summarizes this great truth that is implied or directly expressed in various ways throughout the Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (a great paraphrase from the Message)
“Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”
On this Mother’s day the context of this verse is really interesting. After warning Timothy about deceivers, false teachers (2 Tim 3:13) who undoubtedly lead others away from the sound doctrine of the written word, Paul encourages him to “continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:14-15). Who was it that was so instrumental in teaching Timothy from the sacred written word in his childhood? Two people are specifically mentioned in chapter 1.
There Paul expresses thanks for the genuineness of Timothy’s faith, a faith that he says first lived in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (1:5). Thank God for the holy faith of our grandmothers and our mothers! Thank God for Lois and Eunice! What a wonderful gift for mothers to give their children, a faith in Jesus Christ that is rooted and grounded in the written word of God, all of it!
I’m mindful and thankful for all the godly mothers who do their best to bring their children and grandchildren and other people’s children up in the nurture and admonishment of the Lord according to the written word of God. Thank God for Mary, the mother of Jesus, also the mother of James and Jude, and other children! Thank God for the other disciples of Jesus who were mothers, who brought their children up at the foot of Jesus as he taught the word of God! Thank God for the faithful mothers throughout the history of the Church!
Thank God for St. Monica who prayed for her wayward son who was living in sexual debauchery and spiritual darkness with a bunch of self-proclaimed “enlightened ones”. She prayed and pleaded to God and pleaded with her son whose heart was filled with sexual immorality, thievery, and adultery, both physical and spiritual, a son who had joined a creation denying cult. Day after day, year after year she prayed, for over a decade she prayed for and witnessed to her son. Finally her son confessed Jesus as Lord and believed that God raised him from the dead and so was saved! Thank God for St. Monica because without her we may never have heard of her or her son, St. Augustine!
As a Methodist I can’t forget Susanna Wesley too! She brought her children up on the written word of God, the sacred writings, Holy Scripture. Two of her sons, John and Charles, learned to love it and most importantly to believe it and to live it. They diligently read it and studied it. They preached it and taught it. They wrote sermons, poems, and hymns inspired from it. They loved it and they with all of their being endeavored to live it, to have all of the thoughts, words, deeds, attitudes, and emotions formed and transformed by it. Very few in history have been so inspired and transformed by it as they were, but without Susanna, their God-fearing beloved mother, that never would have been. Thank God for St. Susanna!
I’m thankful for my wife, who is the most wonderful mother my children could have. One of them, our oldest gave her a nice work of art today expressing the things that she is thankful for about her mom. Not least among them was that she teaches her how to be a Christian. She teaches them the word of God and by it how to love God and each other. Thank God for saint Christi! “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; he husband also, and he praiseth her” (Prov 31:28 KJV).
Thank God for all godly mothers and grandmothers who pray their children and guide them in the way that leads to life by the book, the Good Book.
I don’t remember as much about my Grandma on my mother’s side because she died when I was really young, but I’ll never forget talking to my grandma, Nanny Wall. We often talked about Jesus, and watched Billy Graham crusades together on Television as she rocked in her wooden rocking chair and dipped her Navy brand snuff with a stick from a black gum tree that she called her toothbrush. Thank God for Mary Magdalene Ham Wall!
On this Mother’s Day I’m most mindful of another mother who prayed and pleaded to God for her son, a son that almost never was. She and her husband were married for 10 year and into their 40’s before they surprisingly found themselves pregnant. It was a healthy and vibrant baby boy! This painfully shy little boy grew to love the Lord and even felt called to ministry as early as elementary school. By the time he became a teenager, however, his heart wandered and he too became wayward. He had a drinking problem long before he finished high school and got sucked into all kinds of decadence. In college he began to drink even more heavily, to experiment with other drugs, and became addicted to pornography among other things. By his sophomore year he ended up in a cult and officially walked away from and began to rail against the holy catholic (universal) Church! He became a prideful false teacher, contemptuous of the truth (see his testimony here). Yet his mother loved him and pleaded with him to wake up. She prayed for him and she pleaded to God for him, day after day, month after month, year after year, for more than a decade. She refused to give up on this boy, then wayward young man, whom she had dedicated to the Lord over three decades before. Finally, after a miracle, he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and professed him to be Lord and God! Thank God for that woman! I would call her a saint too, saint Betty. I also call her momma.
Happy Mother’s Day!