Coloured Pencil Drawing of a family on a sunny day

Mother’s Day Origin—Sermon Notes Central

“Did you know that the idea for Mother’s Day was born in a small Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia?

It was 1876 and the United States still mourned the Civil War dead. While teaching a Memorial Day lesson, Mrs. Anna Reeves Jarvis thought of mothers who had lost their sons. She prayed that one day there could be a “Memorial Day” for mothers. The prayer made a deep impression on one of Mrs. Jarvis’s eleven children.

Young Anna had seen her mother’s efforts to hold the warsplit community and church together. As she grew into adulthood, the younger woman kept Mrs. Jarvis’s dream in her heart. On the day of her mother’s death, Anna determined to establish Mother’s Day in her honour.

On May 12, 1907, a local observance was held which later spread to Philadelphia. By 1910, Mother’s Day was celebrated in forty-five states, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Mexico and Canada. Elated, Miss Jarvis told a friend, “Where it will end must be left for the future to tell. That it will circle the globe now seems certain.”

On May 8, 1914, President Wilson designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day “for displaying the American flag and for the public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of the country.” 


Jesus’s View of Motherhood

Jesus gives us a different twist on motherhood in Luke 8:19-21. “Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (NIV)

There are biological ties (Luke 8:19-20).

Pegnant Women Holding BellyAt some point during Jesus’ teaching, His mother and brothers came to speak to him. These brothers were Mary’s later children by Joseph who was probably now dead. Jesus seems to be rather callous and gruff here, but according to Mark 3:20-21 they came to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” 

He was arousing the opposition of leaders in a way that seemed reckless to them. The appearance of his family created a rather awkward situation for Jesus. He had always been obedient to his mother, but to obey her now would mean abandoning the ministry to which His Heavenly Father had called him. Though their intentions were good, His brothers were not believers yet—the Bible tells us they were converted later. His mother certainly knew the truth about him, but somehow, she was persuaded to join them in this effort. Gently but firmly, Jesus made it clear that they could not control His ministry.

It is through our biological connection that we most obviously identify who we are. The biological bond is a strong and beautiful one. We see in Luke 8, however, that biological ties have their limitations. What did these men see when they looked at their brother Jesus? They did not see someone unusual or worthy of their worship. They saw their older brother, a carpenter by trade, go too far in His claims to be the Son of God.

What do you see when you look at your family members? Do you see people with weaknesses and faults that drive you crazy? Or do you see the gifts, abilities and uniqueness that reflect their awesome Creator?

On this Mother’s Day I encourage you to give thanks for the family the Lord has given you. They may or may not have shown you much kindness, but I am sure there are some memories that you can smile about.

Biological ties are strong, but there is something stronger…

There are spiritual ties (Luke 8:21).

Jesus turned this ill-advised effort of His mother and brothers to take him home into an opportunity to teach a great truth: His family members are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice. Spiritual relations are even more important than physical ones. The physical family is temporal while the spiritual family is eternal.

When you receive Jesus Christ into your life your identity depends no longer upon the family name you carry, but upon who you are in relation to Him. Luke has placed this incident here to illustrate how people should respond to the teaching of Jesus. Those who receive it obediently are accepted by Him on a level even deeper than physical relatives (compare Matthew 10:34-39). Jesus’ statement here does not imply that he despised his relatives; their presence simply provided him with an object lesson.

As you give thanks for your mother and your family today, I encourage you to look beyond the biological connection you might have. Pray for a deepening of this connection so it will become a spiritual one. Whether it is possible to cultivate such a relationship with your family members or not, ask the Lord to whom you can be a spiritual mother, father, daughter, son, sister or brother. When we are all wholeheartedly committed to loving and obeying Jesus, we enter into a close relationship with Him and with one another.

In God’s eyes spiritual bonds are stronger than biological ones.




Allan Pole photo

Allan Pole
CESLM President