The command to honor our parents was given by God to Moses as part of the Ten Commandments. It is the fifth commandment, and yet, as it says in Ephesians 6:2, “‘Honor your father and mother,’ …is the first commandment with promise…”
However, it is not the promise of reward that is meant to be our focus with this command. Indeed, Jesus would, even as He hung on the cross, honor both His earthly mother and Heavenly Father… with no thought of reward.
The honoring of mothers—and fathers—is mentioned eight times in the Bible as, “honor your father and mother,” yet, the sentiment and commandment to honor our parents is found many more times than that.
Further still, God honored many mothers in the Word, blessing them and their offspring.
Take Ruth, a woman not born a Jew, whom God blessed with safety and prosperity, and greater still, blessed her with a son, Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David, who would become king. As such, Ruth was in the very lineage of Jesus! For God not only commands us to honor our mother and father, but He, who created them, gives them honor in their season.
Jesus’ Views on Honoring Mothers:
Jesus taught many with parables, and did wonderful deeds and miracles during His life on earth.
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” —John 12:46
His life held such purpose; His death and resurrection the restoration of His people to Himself. As such, one might think that restating the instruction in the Ten Commandments—reminding us to honor our parents—would have been unnecessary. Yet, Jesus did not think so.
“… ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, “Honor your father and your mother”; and, “He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.” But you say, “Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God’—then he need not honor his father or mother.” Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.’”—Mathew 15:3-6
This was the response Jesus gave to the scribes and Pharisees who spoke against His disciples for something as simple as not washing their hands before they ate bread. He used it to show that they, in their focus on manmade tradition had lost sight of the values and instruction of God; of that which God most desires from us… our love. Love, which brings a desire to fulfill God’s laws, to emulate Him, acting and treating others with honor…
Yes, Jesus honored God the Father, but He also honored His earthly mother.
Not only was Jesus reminding us of the importance of doing so in word and deed alone, but by seeing that His mother would be taken care of, even as He was dying.
You may have heard it said, “honor is the currency of Heaven,” and Jesus, following the example of His Father—doing nothing unless He first saw the Father do it—acted in honor… giving honor where He should.
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”—John 19:25-27
This act of making sure His mother, Mary, would be taken care of was the last before Jesus said He was thirsty, and subsequently cried out, “it is finished.”
Jesus felt the agony of the cross, yet, even as He struggled for breath, He fulfilled the will of God. He gave honor.
He honored Mary, His mother, and though He knew He would be raised from the dead—could give her care unto another then—He did not delay. In His love for her and for His Father, Jesus made His actions clear.
He could do no less. For it is not in the nature of God to speak one thing then do another.
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”—Numbers 23:19
Therefore, every word written in the Word… everything that Jesus spoke, is truth and life.
“‘…if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’
“He said to Him, ‘Which ones?’
“Jesus said, ‘“You shall not murder,” “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “Honor your father and your mother,” and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”’”—Matthew 19:17-19
Honoring Our Mothers as Jesus Did:
We are made in the image of God—of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—yet, as it says in Romans 3:23, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
None of us is perfect, and what sins we each struggle with vary. One of us may struggle to keep our tongues from slandering through gossip. Another may struggle to love their neighbor when they are constantly initiating strife. Yet, God’s love is perfect, and Jesus’ death and resurrection is the remedy for our transgressions.
Because of our weakness, there may be times when we struggle to honor our earthly mothers. Where we argue over something big or small, and thus, find the will to honor challenging. Or, where we, not wishing our lives controlled, struggle to honor. Yet, listening to their opinions with patience. Showing love through your words and actions; and allowing them to do so as well… these are acts of honor.
And honor is the currency of heaven.
“Both riches and honor come from You,
and You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
in Your hand it is to make great
and to give strength to all.” —1 Chronicles 29:12
This Mother’s Day—and every day—let us strive to honor the mothers in our lives.
Let us give of ourselves… of our time, our words of encouragement, and our love.
Let us emulate Jesus, seeing to the needs of our mothers however we are able; doing freely with love.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”—Exodus 20:12
“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” —Deuteronomy 5:16