Honor Thy Mother
sermon preached by Dr. Jack Hyles
“Then said he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” John 19:27
The purpose for her coming need not be told, the answer the king gave her need not be given. All that is important, that would apply to the message this morning, is this. The king of Israel had just been anointed. His mother had a request to make of him, and so she came to see him.
The king rose to meet her and had another throne brought beside his. As the king sat on his throne, he asked his mother to sit at his right hand at the place of honor.
One of the most striking things about our Lord to me is what He said when He was on the cross. Our Lord was suffering all the horrors of hell, all the pains of the cross. Nobody ever suffered like our Lord suffered, and by the way, all the rivers of history poured into Calvary, and all the streams of prophecy originated at Calvary. Calvary is the crossroads of everybody’s life. The angels, since the foreordinate council, had known about it; God the Father had pointed to Calvary. Everything that Christ did was shadowed by a cross. Now Jesus is on the cross. What would He say?
Ah, it seems to me He’d maybe say something like, “This is the hour of hours for all the universe” or maybe He’d say something like this, “This is the time the foreordinate council planned for. Now is the time. The lamb is slain.”
But our Lord stops while He’s on the cross and says the strangest, seemingly, the most insignificant thing, Jesus, God’s Son, God’s eternal Son, on the cross. Do you know what He says? He says, “Hey, John, take care of Mama. John, take care of Mother.” And, “Mother, John’s going to take care of you from now on.” Isn’t that a strange thing?
Our Lord chose on His dying day, the day that He received the suffering of Calvary, He chose to take care of His mother. Now, Solomon said, “I want to give my mother the place of honor. I want my mother to have the place at my right hand. I want to honor my mother.”
Now, when we think of honoring mothers, we think of what you did today. We think of a flower. We think of a gift. We think of a note. Maybe you have some kids right now. They made a card and they came in and they held it up and said, “Yeah, I made it, Mom.” “Did you make that?” “Yeah, I made that.” “By yourself?” “Yeah.” Then you take it and there’s the hug and the sweet embrace and there’s the “I love you, Mommy.” You say, “I love you, sweetheart” and it’s the most wonderful Mother’s Day ever.
It was all you had to do—such an easy day. All you had to do was get up and cook breakfast and wash dishes and clean the house and mop and wax and everything. All you had to do was get a dozen kids ready for Sunday School and help at Sunday School, teach a class, and then have the preacher holler at you for thirty minutes. Then come home and prepare lunch and serve it and then wash the dishes until three o’clock in the afternoon. You were through. Then all you had to do was pick up the newspapers your kids had strewn and get ready for church that night, and come to church. It’s been a wonderful day, such an easy day for Mother today.
It’s wonderful to honor Mother that way. A flower? That’s good. She deserves the honor. A gift? That’s fine. She deserves the honor. A nice card? That’s good. She deserves the honor. I guess everybody knows about the kids that get Mother a card. A child, a year old or two years old or three years old, gives Mama the card. Mama takes it and the child wants it back. “That’s my card. That’s my card. I want the card for myself.”
We don’t do that when we’re older. We’re a little nicer than we are when we’re younger. That’s good. I think it’s wonderful to honor Mother, but you know, these are the smallest ways to honor Mother.
Solomon put a throne beside his for his mother, but Solomon’s life did not honor his mother. Solomon, from that day forward, went away from God, didn’t serve God and wasn’t useful to God. His life didn’t honor his mother. Far better your life be an honor t your mother than a gift be given to her on Mother’s Day. Far better, Solomon, for you to have served God than for you to have made a throne for your mother on your right hand.
Now, I’m glad you did. That’s a sweet thing, Solomon. I think it’s a wonderful thing. I admire you for it. It makes a good sermon, to say the least, and it gives me a text for Mother’s Day. I’m glad—but, Solomon, far better for you to have served the God of your fathers. That’s the best way to honor your mother, Solomon. I think it’s good to do the other, but these are the smallest of the gifts.
How did our Lord honor His mother? Several times His mother appeared to Him. One time at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, when He performed His first miracle. The Bible says that He said, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” Oh, that doesn’t seem like much a way to honor your mother. “Woman, what have I to do with thee?”
When He’s twelve years of age and He’s back in the temple asking profound questions of the professors. His mother comes in and says, “Your father and I have sought thee. Where have you been?” He says, “What? What? Wist ye not that I must be about my father’s business?” That’s no way to talk to your mother. That’s no way to honor your mother, is it? Then again, His mother and brothers came to see Him. Someone came and said, “Your mother’s outside to see you. Your brothers are outside to see you.” Our Lord said, “Who is my mother? Who are my brethren? But those that do the will of my Father, which is in heaven.” You mean that’s the way to honor your mother? Yeah, that’s the way to honor your mother.
Now I think we ought to be nice to mothers. I think that we ought to give gifts and I think that we ought to give flowers. I think that we ought to give words. I think we ought to write notes and I think that we ought to help. I think we ought to put a seat at the right of ours and put Mother at the right hand, a seat of honor. However, there are far better ways to honor Mother than that.
There are two ways that our Lord honored His mother. In the first place, He honored His mother by doing the Will of God. Listen, the best way in the world that I can honor my mother is to fulfill the purpose for my life.
Back yonder in that little town called Italy, Texas, way down fifty miles south of Dallas, Texas, I was born. The world’s never been quite the same since then, but I was born. I was as loud then as I am now. I weighed over eleven pounds, and I didn’t gain anything till I was seventeen. I weighed over eleven pounds when I was born, and my mother travailed in birth.
I was born at a house. They wanted to take me to the hospital but I said, “No, I want to just stay here at home and be born here at home.” So I was born in a house back in the bedroom. Dr. Carlisle was the doctor who delivered me. Even then, there was a purpose for that life.
Now that travail, that suffering—you ladies remember. God bless you when you found out you were going to have a baby and then you wanted pickles at midnight and watermelon at three o’clock in the morning. It was terrible! You couldn’t stand up and you couldn’t sit down—you just stood up to keep from sitting down, and you’d sit down to keep from standing up. You looked terrible and you waddled when you walked. You had an “eternity” dress on. Some of us have to wear loose clothes all the time, but at least you got over yours, you know.
You didn’t feel good and finally the day came. You rushed to the hospital and your husband drove the car. A cop stopped him and said, “Where you going? To a fire?” “No, no, it’s my hospital here. She’s going to go to the wife to have baby, to have a wife. I mean, it’s my baby here, she’s going to the wife to have a hospital.”
He said, “I understand what it is,” and he drove you the rest of the way. He’d seen nuts like you before. Then there was the travail and then all of a sudden, there was life. Now, you were that little baby. There was a purpose for that life.
Every person in this room this morning, God put you here for a purpose. How can I honor my mother? I can honor my mother by doing the Will of God. God has a purpose for my life. I can bring reproach to my mother; I can put her on the right hand all I want to. I can put her on a throne, I can give her a flower, I can give her a gift, but those who fall into oblivion as compared to the fact that she gave birth to me for a purpose. What was the purpose? That I might fulfill the Will of God in my life.
Mr. Moody heard a preacher one time preach on, “The world has yet to see what God can do with one person completely surrendered to God’s will.” Mr. Moody said in his heart, “With the Grace of God, I’ll be that man.” That’s the way to honor your mother, by always doing the will of God.
You know, I guess I’ll confess something here. I guess I’m pretty sorry in everything. I travel so much and I’m so busy. I’m not much good at anything except, well, just going around the country preaching and bothering everybody, making everybody made and so forth. I sometimes think about families where the husband goes to work at 8:00, gets off at 5:00, and he’s home every night. Maybe the family goes to see Mama two or three times a week, and so forth.
I sometimes feel sorry for my mother for having a son who is gone all the time and busy when he’s home and so forth. Yet, I come back to this. The best way I can honor my mother, and the best way you can honor your mother, is to do the Will of God.
What’s the purpose of your existence? To do God’s will. God put you here for a purpose. Why do it? Because He wants you to do it. Why do it? Because God needs you to do it. Why do it? The world needs you to do His will. Why do it? To honor your mother. Honor your mother by fulfilling the purpose.
You know that words one day a year are not enough. A flower once a year is not enough. The best way in this world to honor Mother is to do God’s will 365 days a year.
John, I kid you a great deal, but I thought about little Danny last night, and I cried a bit about it. We heard that little Danny Penley had leukemia about five years ago. He was a sweet little boy, four years of age. We saw him as he wilted away. Four years ago last night, do you remember what he asked for? On the night he died? He was in the hospital and they asked him what he wanted. And he said, “I want to see my preacher.”
Brother Hand, you went with me that night. We went to Billings Hospital at three or four o’clock in the morning and little Danny was there. It wasn’t long till we heard little Danny was gone.
Oh, listen. Danny’s with Christ. I’m glad Mrs. Penley gave birth to him. There’s a purpose for his little life. I don’t know all about it, but there’s a purpose for him. There’s a purpose for my life and I must find it. There’s a reason why I’m here. I’m not here to make a living to work eight hours a day and to just come and go and eat and drink. You’re not here just to live or to have a job. You know, I am so sick and tired of this motley generation that says, “Give me more money. Give me less hours. Give me better working conditions.” Why doesn’t somebody say, “Give me God’s will, the purpose for my existence.”
God give us some decency and integrity and character once again. The biggest thing in life is not how big is the meat on my plate, and not how big is the car in my garage. It’s not how much money do I get an hour, and not under what conditions do I work. The Will of God is the big thing.
The most wretched people in this world are those who just work for a dollar or those who just work for conditions or those who want less hours. Tell you what, I want more hours to work. I want more time. I don’t care about the salary. I’m in live with the work. I’m in love with the job. I’m in love with the Will of God.
Let your hair grow, that won’t make you happy. Cut it off, that won’t make you happy. Wear miniskirts, that won’t make you happy. LSD, that won’t make you happy. More money, that won’t make you happy. Drive a Cadillac, that won’t make you happy. Trade it for a Volkswagen, that won’t make you happy.
There’s only one way in this world to be happy and that is to say, “When I was born, God put that little bundle of flesh in the body of a woman and that woman travailed and gave birth to me. There was a purpose for my being born. There was a reason for my life, and I’m going to fulfill the Will of God in my life. In so doing, I’ll honor my mother.” Only to be what He wants me to be, every moment of every day. Yielded completely to Jesus alone, every step of this pilgrim way. Just to be clay in the Potter’s hands, ready to do what His word commands. Only to be what He wants me to be, every moment of every day.
The Will of God—that’s the way I can honor my mother. That’s the way you can honor yours. A seat once a year, Solomon, that’s fine and that’s sweet, but that’s not enough. Putting her at the place of honor? Oh, don’t you know they cried that day. Don’t you know when the king of Israel stood up off his throne and that simple mother, Bathsheba, came and stood beside him. Don’t you know that when Solomon gave her a throne at his right hand and said to men of state, “Step aside,” and said to famous warriors, “Step aside,” and said to generals, “Step aside,” and said to prime ministers, “Step aside. My mother is going to sit here.” Don’t you know that was a tender hour. But I’ll tell you what. When yeas passed and Solomon’s life was wrecked and ruined, he left the Will of God and married heathen women. He ruined the kingdom and had a wicked son, Rehoboam, who was as vile and wicked as they come. Don’t you think that little mother many times would say, “I’d trade that throne for a son in the Will of God. I’d trade that honor he gave me that day at his right hand for a son that had stayed in the Will of God and done the Will of God.
There’s something else about our Lord. Our Lord honored his mother by doing the work of God. You know, I guess it’s hard for a fellow not to talk about his own kids, but last night I was thinking a bit. It was late and I was thinking about what I was going to preach. I said, “Oh, to honor my mother, my godly mother, who went without the new hat for twelve years, or new dress for twelve years. My mother worked for fifty cents a day and walked two miles to work so she wouldn’t have to ride the streetcar or bus and pay the fare. She fed me when she couldn’t eat herself and she clothed me when she couldn’t buy clothes for herself. She cared for me when she couldn’t take care of herself, properly, and was a drunkard’s wife and had a tough time.
I said, “I’d like to honor my mother. I’d like to put her in a seat.” And I thought this morning about putting her here in the seat, putting a chair here and letting her sit here during the entire sermon. (But she goes to sleep when I preach, it’d be embarrassing for her to go to sleep in front of all the people.) So I thought, how can I honor my mother? How can I honor my mother?
My boy, David, came in. He’d been out soul winning and he came in. He was excited. David’s sixteen. He said, “Dad, we won thirty-one souls tonight,” and he said, “Dad, I won seven.” I said, “That’s it. That’s it.” Way in the night, last night, as I was studying, preparing my own heart for the message, I thought, “One day I’ll be up in years.” I’m a long ways from it now, you’d better know, but, one day I’ll be up in years and one day David will be grown. It may be he’ll be on a foreign mission field and I won’t get to see him but once ever four or five years. It may be he serves the Lord as a pastor in Florida or California or a distant state, and I’ll be in Hammond and I won’t get to see him very often.
He won’t get to make a seat for me and honor his dad in the seat. He won’t get to give me a boutonniere, maybe on Father’s Day, and be with me on Father’s Day. He’ll be in a distant state. I thought this, Son, you don’t have to drop by. I want you to be busy. You don’t have to write every day, or you don’t have to write every week for that matter. I think that’s good, and I want that honor, but let me say this. Let me hear, Dave, that you’re a man. Let me hear that you walk straight. Let me hear that you’re a real man of integrity, honesty, character, decency. Let me hear that, and you will have honored your father. Let me hear that you have the courage to stand alone. Let me hear that if the whole world goes communistic you stand for freedom. Let me hear when the battle is raging you’re in the thick of it. Let me hear you’ll not shrink, nor shirk, nor run. You’re no coward or hippie. You’re a man.
Let me hear that, and I’ll be an honored father. Let me hear, son, though you may not come by as often as I wish you would, and though you may not write as often as I’d like to hear, and though the postman may pass by my house, and though the phone may seldom ring, let me hear that you are a soul winner. Let me hear that you won seven today or thirty-one today. Let me hear about it and I’ll be an honored father. Let me hear that you pay your debts on time. Let me hear that you work hard and don’t run form a good hard day’s work and that sweat is not a dirty word.
Let me hear that you’re a preacher of the truth and that you never waver one iota from this blessed old book and that you stand and live and die to preach it. Let me hear about that. I’ll do without a few of the honors, and the right hand, and the seat, and the throne, and maybe the phone calls I’d like to have, or the letters I’d like to have. I’m not discounting the other, but I’m saying the honor I want is to know somewhere in this world there’s a son of integrity and decency and honor and character and courage to defend the Bible, to defend the Saviour, to defend this country, to defend his home. That will be honor sufficient.
I thought last night, if you can’t write or come or call as often as I would, let me hear some reports as they come back to me that you’ve done your best in everything you’ve ever done. Let me hear that you’ve loved deeply. Let me hear that you’ve been a man of principle. Let me hear that you stood faithful to the Bible. Let me hear that you’re willing to die for truth and right. Let me hear that you’ve never been proud, nor cowardly. Let me hear that you’ve never been cocky, nor brow-beaten. Let me hear that you’ve always been a man, a Christian man, and a decent man, an honorable man. Let me hear that and that’s all the honor I think I’ll need.
Oh, to honor your mother today is not just to send a card, thought that’s sweet. To honor your mother today is not just to give a gift, though that’s sweet. To honor your mother today is not just to give a flower, though that’s sweet. To honor your mother today is not just to write a note, though that’s sweet. To honor your mother today is not just to place a long-distance phone call, though that’s sweet.
To honor your mother the way Jesus honored His mother is to say, “Dear Mother, you gave birth to me for a purpose and God put me here for a reason. I’m going to find it and I’ll do it.” In so doing, you will have honored your mother to the highest because you will have fulfilled the purpose of her bringing you into this world.
There’s another way, as I said, the work of God, also. Now one thing we all have in common, we have a mother. You think yours is the best and I think mine’s the best. Maybe your mother is beside you today. If she is, how fortunate you are. Maybe she’s in this same room today as my mother is, how blessed we are. Maybe today your mother is across the miles and you’ve written her and sent a card and maybe a gift. Maybe you’re going to call her this afternoon and wish her “Happy Mother’s Day.” Ah, that’s a wonderful thing.
Maybe your mother sits by the throne of God today, in the seat—honored place for mothers. Maybe today there’s a little mound in some cemetery and on that mound is a little piece of marble, and on that marble is engraved the name of your mother. Maybe today you’ll walk to a little cemetery down a little trail and you’ll stand and place a wreath on the grave of your mother on Mother’s Day. Maybe she’s in Heaven today.
Ah, but there’s one thing all of us can do. We can honor our mothers. How? By doing the Will of God. How? By doing the work of God. How? By fulfilling the purpose of our existence. How can you honor your mother? If you’re not saved, honor her by being saved. If you do not know—listen, listen.
Wouldn’t it be a tragic shame, wouldn’t it be a tragic shame for a woman to go through nine months of torture and discomfort; her face gets big and fat. That is not all that gets big and fat, either. She gets bloated and she doesn’t look good. She goes to sleep at night and she looks like Pike’s Peak as she lies on her back. She’s uncomfortable and she’s miserable. Then comes the time of travail and she goes into the jaws of death.
Then she feeds you when you can’t feed yourself, loves you when you couldn’t love yourself, and clothes you when you couldn’t clothe yourself, and cared for you when you couldn’t care for yourself. If she reared you and you grew up and died and went to hell. What a tragic thing for a woman to have to endure.
If you’re not saved this morning, if you don’t know your name is in heaven, if you don’t know that if you died today you’d go to heaven, the best thing you can ever do to honor your mother is to walk down this aisle after awhile. Kneel here at this altar and let some godly deacon take a Bible and open that Bible and show you how you can be saved. Then your mother has given birth to a child for heaven and not for hell.
If you are saved, there’s a way you can honor your mother. That is to do the Will of God. You ought to get in an old-fashioned church and teach a Sunday School class or be the music director of a department or the president of a class or an officer in the WMS or have a bus route. Do something where you can serve God. Do the work of God, thereby honoring your mother.
Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I see Solomon. He’s just a king. Oh, how proud his mother is. You see, Bathsheba was the wife of the king. We don’t say much good about Bathsheba, but Bathsheba became a wonderful person in the days following and Bathsheba became a wonderful mother. She was loyal to David. Solomon is king and that proud mother sits out there. They anoint him with the oil of gladness, and his mother says, “How proud I am. Oh, what a happy day it is. My boy is the king.”
Ah, you can imagine, you can imagine. Then she said, “Son, could I say a word to you?” She walks up the stairs and Solomon says, “Mother, don’t stand there. Servants! Move over the prime minister. Move over the men of state. Move over the commanding generals. Put a throne beside mine.”
There Bathsheba has a seat, and her heart pounds with pride and joy as she has the honored seat. That seat has long since been moved, and Bathsheba is in some lonely place. Solomon has left the Will of God, and Solomon has ruined the kingdom. Solomon has destroyed the decency of his father, David. I’m sure many days Bathsheba with a broken heart, rocked in some little lonely room and thought, “Oh, I’d rather my son have done the Will of God than to have sat in that seat. Oh, I’d rather my son had taken up the work of God than to sit in that seat.”
May I say this morning, honor your mother. Honor your mother. “Oh,” you say, “Preacher, I did. I sang ‘Happy Mother’s Day to you.'” That’s good. That’s always good. The off-key wang-doodlin’ of it. It’s always good. I’m for it. “Oh,” you say, “I did. I called a florist and the florist sent her a flower. I honored my mother.” That’s good.
You say, “Oh, I’ve already honored my mother. I went by her house this morning, told her she was a good mother and took her a handkerchief.” I’m glad you did. That’s wonderful, but that’s not the best way to honor your mother. That’s a good way, but those ways fall into oblivion and obscurity when compared to the doing of the will of God and the work of God. Honor your mother.
If you’re not saved, honor your mother. If you have no church home this morning, honor your mother. If you’ve not been baptized, honor your mother. If you’re not in God’s will, honor your mother. Not just with a seat or throne, not just with a flower or gift, but honor her with a child who is fulfilling his purpose for his life by just doing the Will of God.
I thought about my mother this last week. I was in Denver and I thought about her. I thought, “It’s Mother’s Day and I’m busy. I’ve got a lot to do and I take off again tomorrow,” and so forth. But I said, “Dear Lord, I’m in your will. I’m in your will and I’m in your work.” If you’re not in His will and doing His work, honor your mother today.
Let us pray.