Sermons, Spotlight

When Mother’s Day Hurts: The Gospel of Ascension Day

Mother’s Day is a wonderful day to celebrate God’s gift of motherhood. It is a day when the rest of the world still celebrates an aspect of our created world as God made it to be. But, today is also a day that brings the pain many people carry into sharp focus. It’s true that motherhood is a gift from God to his creation, but until Jesus returns, that good creation is broken. And just as motherhood is a foundational part of God’s creation that brings many blessings, a day like today can also be a harsh reminder of the reality of living in a sinful and broken world.

Today can be a hard day for many reasons:

  • Maybe you’re single and your greatest desire is to be married and have children.
  • Maybe you’re a couple who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of a child.
  • Maybe you’re a stepmom struggling to feel valued and connect with step kids.
  • Maybe you’re a couple struggling with the hopelessness and pain of infertility.
  • Maybe you are a couple facing hurdle after hurdle in the process of adoption.
  • Maybe you’re a parent who has placed your own child for adoption.
  • Maybe you’re a mother who grieves her abortion or a father who encouraged them to do so.
  • Maybe you’re the mother of a “prodigal.”
  • Maybe you’re a mother raising kids without their father next to you.
  • Maybe today you’re grieving a mother who is no longer here or ill.
  • And maybe you’re just a mom struggling to do the whole “mom thing.”

There are multitudes of different situations, but whatever the case, days like today can bring out the happiest joys and the darkest pains of living in this world.

And that’s what makes Ascension Day so wonderful. I used to think Ascension Day was sad, like we shouldn’t be happy that Jesus went away because it would be so much cooler if Jesus were still here. But the reality is that Ascension Day is the grand finale of Jesus’ victory procession to his kingly throne.

God takes on human flesh permanently at Christmas, Jesus takes our Judgment Day upon himself at Good Friday, he is the first person to reverse and rewind death in every way at Easter, Jesus invades Hell and takes the Enemy’s capital, and before Jesus sends the Holy Spirit into our world as our Almighty Helper, Jesus ascends as the absolute King and Supreme Lord of everything. Because Jesus is the one in charge of everything, we as Christians have an entirely different view of this world than everyone else: planet earth and all creation is going to be redeemed and restored by our Almighty Lord Jesus.

We as Christians have an entirely different view of this world than everyone else: planet earth and all creation is going to be redeemed and restored by our Almighty Lord Jesus.

It’s hard for us to imagine or even put into words just exactly how big of a deal Jesus being Lord is. It’s hard for mere mortals like us to comprehend the power he has. So allow me to make something of a silly movie reference. If you’re a mom of a 14-year-old son (or a 28-year-old like me), you might know that a little superhero movie called Avengers: Infinity War is currently in theaters. In this movie, an evil purple alien named Thanos wears a gauntlet and tries to find 6 all-powerful stones to add to it so that he can wield their power. You’ve got:

  • the space stone that controls physical space
  • the mind stone can control the hearts and minds of others
  • the reality stone can control matter and bend reality
  • the time stone can rewind or fast-forward time
  • the power stone controls energy in the universe
  • the soul stone can manipulate the souls of the living and the dead
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(Photo: Marvel Studios)

Now the purple, evil bad guy tries to collect all of these stones so that he can control all these things as if he was God. You can imagine how bad it would be if he got a hold of that kind of power: he could change time, space, life, and reality with the snap of a finger.

I realize this is a cheap pop-culture reference and a little “comic-booky”, but in a wacky sort of way, I think it gives us a better idea of the kind of power Jesus now has as the ascended, Supreme Lord and Ruler of all. Jesus is the highest imaginable King of all kings, of all space and time and dimensions. It doesn’t get any higher up the chain of command than Jesus. And unlike some purple alien, such power is not new to him. Jesus doesn’t have to learn how to wield that kind of power. Jesus commands all power, all time, all space, all energy, all matter and reality, all life, in all divine wisdom and authority. And unlike some made-up bad guy, Jesus wields all that power and authority for you and out of love for you.

Our King knows your pain. He is the one who created motherhood for his creation, and he knows the pain the brokenness of this world can cause. Indeed, that is why he became broken for it. It is for that pain that Jesus died. We have a King who sits on the throne and shares your pain with you. And by his resurrection, Jesus as the Almighty ruler kicks Satan out of heaven and rules over His enemies. And in Baptism you have been transferred from tyranny of Satan to the lordship of Christ. Jesus is your Lord, and that is the best news you could ever hear.

We have a King who sits on the throne and shares your pain with you.

If Mother’s Day is a day you dread, the Lord Jesus will take the wound that causes grief and by his power he will change all things, even that wound, and make it new. If you suffer because you want to be married and have children, or you’ve experienced the death of a child, or you are struggling to connect with step kids, or you feel the emptiness of infertility, or your child was aborted, or your relationship with your kids is not what it should be, then take in all seriousness Revelation 21:5 the Almighty King Jesus declares from his throne, “Behold! I am making all things new!” And he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Let me be clear: Jesus is planning on returning to this planet and making all things as they should be. He has the power to undo the past and to create a perfect future. He is the one who created marriage, who created families, who commanded us to be fruitful and multiply. When Jesus restores all things it is just that: restoration. To put it bluntly: to take away anything from creation that God instituted, even the small stuff, would be awarding Satan a great victory. Satan would delight an any small piece of the creation God loves being taken away. And Jesus is not the kind of guy to let the bad guys win.

Jesus is not the kind of guy to let the bad guys win.

No, our Supreme Ruler Jesus is the one who will bring about a new heaven and new earth at his resurrection. And in that New Earth, we will live together with Jesus as families, mothers, fathers, and kids. Jesus doesn’t do away with the old. Precisely the opposite: he loves it so much he died and rose to make the old new. That’s our King. That’s Jesus. He rules all things in grace and love. Nothing in this creation, no sin you are guilty of, no disease or condition or death, no earthly president or king can interrupt or foil the plans of Jesus. And while death, and infertility, and Satan may seem to win the day, we look forward to the day when Jesus will finally return. Bring your pain to the throne of Jesus, because in him your pain has an expiration date.

That is the good news gospel of Ascension Day. Jesus has already started his reign and he will never stop reigning. The throne of Jesus will never be empty or toppled. And the One upon that Throne wields every facet of his power for you.

There is no greater sentence than these three words:

JESUS IS LORD.

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