No Longer Her Son

As I prepare my heart for Easter I’ve been reading through all of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last days before his crucifixion.  Because I am a mother, I can’t help but imagine the reality of the situation through Mary’s eyes.

 

Here it is, as I imagine it:

 

 

She didn’t even know how she had come to this point.  The beginning was miraculous to say the least.  The old priest, Simeon told her about the prophecies, but that was 33 years ago.  It seems like a long time ago, but it has been such a short time that she had with her son.

 

It was just hours ago that James, her younger son, came flying through the door in the middle of the night announcing that He had just been arrested.  Before she got to him he had been tried, and mocked.  Spit on and beaten.  She saw Pilate order him flogged.  She couldn’t bare to watch as the lead tipped whip thrashed against her son’s bare back, ripping the skin and muscles to shreds.  Maybe that would be punishment enough, maybe Pilate would convince the crowd to set him free.  But still he was sentenced to death; the most humiliating death on a cross.

 

She screamed, she yelled, he was innocent!  More innocent than any human who has ever lived on this earth.  He had done literally NOTHING to deserve punishment, much less death.  And she knew!  She was his mother.  Not once did she need to break out the rod with Jesus.  Not once did he ever disobey.  Not once did he make fun of his brothers, or make them feel inferior to his perfection.  Not once did he retaliate when others ridiculed him and poked fun.  He was PERFECT. 

 

So how did it come to pass that here he was, sentenced to death, beaten, mocked, bruised and bloodied, carrying his own weapon of demise down the streets toward Golgotha?

 

He stumbled, she cried out in pain for her son.  “Someone help him!  Oh God, please, someone help my baby!”  Then someone stepped out.  Removed the blood stained cross beam from his shoulders and helped him up.  “God bless that man, whoever he is.” She prayed.

 

John, Jesus’ closest friend found Mary in the crowd.  He held her up and walked with her to the hill.  She could barely support her own weight from the angst she carried for her son.

 

At nine in the morning, up on the hill that they call “Skull Hill,” a hill she had always avoided and never looked upon for fear of the gruesome events that happened there, her son was nailed to the cross beams and raised up onto the cross.  She watched in horror as her son suffered and struggled to breathe.  It was more than she could bare, she bent over and heaved onto the grass.

 

The soldiers placed bets and rolled dice for his clothes.  Even the thieves dying themselves on the crosses next to Jesus mocked him.  “So you’re the Messiah, are you?  Prove it by saving yourself!”

 

“Yes, Jesus, yes, no one would blame you.  Save yourself.  I know you can.  I believe you are the Messiah.  Show them!” Mary sobbed quietly to her self.  If she could, she would do anything for her baby to stop the pain.  But even she knew that as much as she wanted to take his place and make the sacrifice herself, or let her son live and show his power, it had to be this way.  No other death could do what Jesus’ sacrifice would do: save all of humanity.  It would free us all from the bondage of sin and death.  For our freedom, an innocent man had to die.

 

As blood continued to drip from his forehead, arms, feet, and back, Jesus saw her in the crowd standing beside his friend John.  He knew that her heart was breaking and since her husband had past years before she would need the support of another son.  “Dear Woman, John is your son, now.  John, she is your mother.”  Suddenly Mary realized, that he was no longer her baby.  No longer her son at all.  He was her Savior.   And not just hers, but the Savior of all the world.  It was a heartfelt offer both she, and John, would take.  From now on John would be her son, and Jesus would be her Messiah.

 

Around noon the sky went dark.  The atmosphere mirrored that of her heart.  For three more hours they stood with him.  At three in the afternoon, he cried out, louder that she thought he had energy for, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!” And then, “It is finished.

 

And then, Jesus died with his beloved friend and mother in view.  Really, he died with us all in view.  With the weight of all our sin on his shoulders he breathed his last breath and gave up his spirit. 

 

The mocking crowd quieted at his cries.  “Surely this was the Son of God,” one of the soldiers said aloud.  When the ground began to shake, rocks split apart, people could not deny that this was no ordinary man.  The curtain in the Temple separating the holiest of holy places was torn in two from top to bottom in a way that only God, himself, could have done.

 

But that last shout that Jesus uttered rang in the peoples’ ears.  God has abandoned us.  We killed the Messiah.  Even Satan, the Enemy, thought he had won.

 

The Sabbath passed.  A day of rest that should have been celebrated, was a day of mourning.  A day when His followers had felt completely abandoned by their God.  They hid.  They made plans to move on.

 

Then Sunday morning came.  Mary cried all the way there.  She didn’t want to see his lifeless body again.  That bloodied and broken body was not her son.  But she would care for him one last time. She brought spices that she had carefully prepared to the tomb.  But Jesus was not there. Oh no.  He had risen!  Her son, no, her Savior, was healed and whole again.  God had won.  Satan was defeated.   Death was conquered.

 

Because of the sacrifice that Jesus made, grace and freedom now belong to the world.  Grace and freedom from sin, freedom to live life to the fullest potential is ours because He gave his son in the ultimate sacrifice… for me.

 

 

Home

There’s this idea floating around the Christian community that this world is not our home.  It’s a biblical concept that I think has gotten skewed.  Peter talks about it.  Paul talks about it.  We are reminded to live like citizens of Heaven, worthy to spread the Good News of Jesus.  Meaning, we are to live in a way that makes people want to know the Jesus we know.  It’s a concept that brings hope to many people.  When we feel like we just can’t take much more life on this earth, because it is hard and it is painful, we can have hope that this world is not the end.  Something much better awaits us.

It’s true, but it’s a dangerous concept, too.  I think there are many Christians that skew this thought and sit around just waiting for their future home in Heaven.  Like Chris Seay said in his Culture Maker Series talk, we go through this life as if this world is a public bathroom.  We try to get in and out without touching anything!

I hate to tell you this but: This world IS your home.  At the end of the end, God will make the world; everything we already know, NEW.  He created this world for you, for your pleasure!  In the beginning, He gave Adam and Eve a perfect garden.  Everything worked together.  Humans and animals were not afraid of each other.  Food was readily available for every living thing on this earth.  There was no sin; there was no pain.  Then we made a choice that shook the core of the earth.  Since that day, this world has not been what God created it to be, but it will again someday.  We’ll live in a new Heaven AND A NEW EARTH.

I know where the Christian artists are going with this thought, and I have beautiful friends that have been getting through each day with the hope that this world is not the end.  And they’re right. But I disagree with the #1 Christian song in America today.  This IS where we belong.  God put us here on this earth for today.  If we live life with the mind set that we are just waiting until the day that God takes us to our eternal home, then we are missing the WHOLE point of LIFE!!!

 

This world is absolutely amazing!  I think we’ve lost the wonder of it all.  Let me remind you.  Watch this.

It is absolutely breathtaking.  This world was created for YOU.  Enjoy it.  Remind others of its sheer wonder.  Take care of it.  Leave it more beautiful than you found it.  My boys are inheriting this world in this life.  Adam’s first job was to take care of the animals and land he was given.  After they sinned, God sent Adam out into the world to cultivate the land from which he came.

But even more than that, we have to use Jesus as our example as we LIVE in this world.  He didn’t treat it like a public bathroom, that’s for sure.  He got his hands dirty.  He got out in it and touched things and people that no one else would go near.

Paul talks in Philippians 1 about how dying would be better for him, but concludes that it’s best for everyone that he lives.  He said that in the last years of his life.  There are seasons when we just need to cling to the hope that Heaven awaits us, but for most of our lives, we need to live to the fullest.  Jesus came so that we may have LIFE and have it to the full.  He left us to go prepare heaven, but he came to show us how to live life here on earth.  Yes, this world is flawed, but we’re called to live as ambassadors for God.  Our job is to do our best to make it right again.

So, Go.  Live.

Enjoy this world.

This world IS our home.

 

 

True Sacrifice

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Fact: Parenting is hard.

                                                And gross and fun and frustrating and wonderful.

Fact: I am imperfect.

                                                Oh, so flawed…

I am still learning how to parent.   I question if I’m screwing up my kids by not letting them do things.  I question if I’m screwing up my kids by letting them do other things.  Every day is a new experiment and quite honestly, I don’t know how I’m doing. 

Fact: My imperfection, as a parent and as a person, affects my boys.

                                                 Ugh.

 

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We learned this weekend at church that we should look to God as our example for how to parent.  We can take cues from how He loves us, and pass that love on to our kids.  God loves us unconditionally.  He loves us enough to give us rules and guidelines and we should do the same for our kids.  

But so much more than that, God loves us enough to sacrifice everything for us.  To give us grace and mercy and even to give up his own life for us.

When I think about that example and how I live up to it, I know I would give my life for my boys.  When they’re sick or hurt, it breaks my heart and I wish I could take that pain on myself to stop their suffering.  I would absolutely make the ultimate sacrifice for my boys.

But that’s not what is called of me on a daily basis.  My kids don’t need me to give up my life for them.  They need me to give up my selfishness for them.  They need my time.  They need my attention.  They need me to LIVE for them, not die for them.

Believe it or not, that’s a much harder sacrifice for me.

This blog was originally started as an online baby book for my boys, to record their milestones and remember them at each stage of growth.  It’s now a place where I am recording how much my boys have taught me and how I’ve grown.  But I pray that someday, Isaac and Asher will look back and read these words from their young mother.

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Isaac and Asher:  I hope you know how much I love you.  I hope you know I would do anything for you.  My goal as a parent is to love you well and teach you to be godly men who love others more than yourselves.  I hope that is apparent to you.  Today’s lesson in godliness is that you must give each other grace.  I am human and this whole parenting thing will always be new to me.  I have made mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes and I know that it is very likely that you will be in counseling one day because of the way I have parented you.  I am so sorry for that.  Please forgive me and please extend some grace my way.

 

God, I thank you for showing us how to raise our kids.  It seems counter-intuitive to say “no” because of our love, but it is evident that you love us by the boundaries you’ve given us.  You want us to live full, guilt-free, joy filled lives and the limits you’ve given us guide us towards that full life. I beg you to give me wisdom and help me to make wise choices when it comes to raising my boys.  I pray that you and my boys both will forgive me when I screw up.  Just as you forgive and forget our mistakes, I pray that my faults won’t leave a lasting impression on my kids.  May they be able to overcome my imperfection and learn from my faults.  But more than anything, I pray that You help me achieve my parenting goal, may these boys grow up to be godly men who put You and others before themselves. May I learn that lesson as well, and love my boys more than I love my own time. God, I cannot do this alone.  Thank you that I don’t have to.  Thank you for Randall who compliments me perfectly.  Thank you for a community of people who care enough about my boys to have the same goal.  Thank you most of all, for never giving up on us and for never once leaving us to do this on our own.