February 27, 2008

The Word of Concern - Feb 27, 2008

Grace and Peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

One of the themes in the book of James is that faith produces action. Other books of the Bible stress that good deeds are no replacement for faith, but James stresses that where faith in Jesus IS present, good actions WILL follow. In chapter two, James writes,

15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:15-17 NIV).

If our concern for others never leads to action, we might ask ourselves, “Am I really all that concerned?” Since God has placed the mountain moving tool of prayer into our hands, there is always something we can do. May the Holy Spirit remind us that the gift prayer is meant to be used. May the Holy Spirit also lead our concern for others to be true, and to always be followed by action.

In our reading for today we hear about what Jesus DID when He saw His mother Mary standing at the foot of His cross. His concern for her led Him to speak what tonight we call, “The Word of Concern”.

John 19:26-27 (NASB)

26When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”

27Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.”

These are the words of God.

Throughout Jesus’ earthly life His primary concern was to do what His Heavenly Father wanted. Jesus once said,

…I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”(John 6:38 NIV).

The Father wanted Jesus to place Himself under the commandments, keep those commandments perfectly and give up His life to save sinners from eternal death.

We see Jesus’ concern for keeping the Father’s commandments in tonight’s reading. By providing someone to care for His mother, Jesus was keeping the fourth commandment. He was honoring His mother.

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Jesus honoring His parents. The Bible tells us that Jesus was obedient to Mary and Joseph even in his youth (Luke 2:51). Though He was the very Son of God, Jesus recognized that His heavenly Father had given Him into the care of these two human beings, and therefore they deserved His respect and obedience.

The fact that Jesus always honored His parents was revealed at His baptism when God the Father spoke from heaven saying,

This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:11 NIV).

No matter what the circumstances, Jesus’ concern for His Heavenly Father always led Him to do what was right. Even the excruciating pain of crucifixion was no excuse to Jesus for failing to do what was right. As blood and sweat trickled down His grimacing face, Jesus lived the Father’s Word –with His every word.

Here we see a great contrast between Jesus and ourselves. We often see our pain and frustration as an excuse for sinful behavior. Somehow a bad day makes it okay for us to snap at each other. Somehow a headache excuses us from politeness. Our mental and physical anguish draws our thoughts inward and centers our concern on ourselves.

But this was not the case with Jesus. Even from the cage of pain that was His cross, He still obeyed the Father’s commands.

Perhaps this was because Jesus understood that God designed every commandment to benefit both the person who kept it, and the persons it effected.

This dual blessing is easily seen in connection with the fourth commandment. When children honor their parents and treat them with respectful obedience, parents can raise their children up in the Lord, enjoying every moment. But when children dishonor their parents by their disobedience, the unpleasant but necessary act of discipline disrupts the joy of raising children.

As Jesus sought to keep the Father’s will, so did His earthly parents. Indeed, Mary and Joseph were sinful, but they were also believers. They trusted the God the Bible and kept God’s law as well as sinful humans can.

In Luke 2 we are told that they took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised on the eighth day after His birth. They did this because God had commanded the Jews that this should be done in the Old Testament.

Upon seeing and holding Jesus in his arms, an old priest by the name of Simeon told Mary,

This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34-35 NIV).

At the foot of Jesus’ cross Simeon’s prophesy found its greatest fulfillment. Mary could only look on as her eldest Son suffered. Johan Gerhard described her anguish well when he wrote:

“She sees Him suspended, but can not touch Him; sees Him nailed, and may not loose Him; she sees Him dripping with blood, but can not bind up His wounds; she hears His pliant: ‘I thirst,’ and may not give Him to drink. As many torments in the body of Christ, so many wounds in the mother’s heart…” (“The Gospels”, Ylvisaker 743 )

When Jesus looked out on the taunting crowd below Him, He saw sinners who desperately needed the forgiveness that He was earning them. And when His eyes fixed on His mother Mary, He saw also a sinner who needed His word of grace right now. And so, even as Jesus was providing for Mary’s greatest spiritual need, He also provided for her physical needs.

There standing beside Mary, was John. John, the Spirit inspired writer of the Gospel of John. John, the writer who avoids mentioning his own name in his Gospel, choosing instead to draw all attention to Jesus by calling himself, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. To this disciple and dear friend, Jesus entrusted the care of His own mother.

Jesus would rise from the dead in three days, but his relationship with His mother would never be quite the same. She would always retain the honor of being Jesus’ mother, but in the kingdom of God she would stand on the same level as all other Christians.

The apostle Paul wrote about the kingdom of God, saying:

28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NIV).

In a way, Jesus illustrated this fact by giving Mary to John and John to Mary. Mary’s privilege of being Jesus’ mother was great. John’s privilege of being Jesus’ close friend was great. But their shared privilege of being saved by His blood was greater.

From this point on the Bible tells us nothing else about Mary’s life except that she was one of those who continued in prayer and Christian fellowship at Jerusalem after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (Acts 1:14).

With His “Word of Concern”, Jesus expressed both His desire to keep the Father’s commandments and His love for His mother Mary. We should mark this well and always remember it. For there is a diamond of truth that sparkles in this act of Jesus: The greatest way in which we can love each other, is by diligently seeking to do the Father’s will as it is expressed in the Bible.

With His “Word of Concern” Jesus left His followers a great example. This is always the case with Jesus. He does not only direct us to His Father’s commands, He also leaves us His example to follow.

Of course, as we hold up Jesus’ perfect honoring of His parents with our sloppy record of disrespect and disobedience, we are reminded of our many sins. We have not honored our parents perfectly. And since it is God who places these people over us, our every sin against them has also been a sin against our Heavenly Father.

Thank God that we see more than a good example when we see Jesus! On the cross we also see our Savior, who never sinned against the fourth commandment, and who pastes His perfect keeping of that commandment over our failure to do so. In the same way, all our failures to honor our Heavenly Father have been pasted over with Christ’s perfect righteousness. In this way, each loving act that Jesus did out of concern for others, was also done out of concern for us and our salvation.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Concern leads to action. When we see Jesus’ concern for keeping the Father’s commands, we say, “Me too. I also want to honor God with my life.” When we see Jesus’ loving concern for His mother, we say, “Me too. I want to honor God’s representatives with my actions.” And when we see Jesus’ concern for us expressed in His patient suffering and death in our place, we say, “Thank You Jesus. As Mary continued in prayer and Christian fellowship with Your redeemed children, me too.”


The Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

-Pastor Caleb Schaller

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