Heed The Blessed Mother!

Title: Heed The Blessed Mother!

Bible Book: John 2

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Mother's Day; Virgin Mary; Mother



More years ago than I care to remember right now, Dr. Leo Eddleman gave me a copy of a book he had written while president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The Title of the book, as I recall, is DO YOU HEED THE BLESSED VIRGIN? The reason he had written that book was that he was surrounded by Roman Catholics in New Orleans who were demanding taxpayer money to support parochial schools. Baptists have always been at the forefront in the battle for separation of church and state - when that meant protecting the church from the state, not the other way around. However, these days we must also protect the state from some churches and other religious groups.

We spent two months watching the news, anticipating the death of the old pope, and the election of the new one (2005). The Catholic church must have received billions of dollars worth of free publicity over a period of several weeks. I heard a lot about the pope, and a little about Jesus. Some of the things they said were absolutely true and scriptural. Some of it was obviously blessed by the prince of this world. For example, there was the excited priest who was anxiously awaiting the announcement that the College of Cardinals had elected a new pope. He declared, “The Pope stands in for Jesus on earth.” Do you think that priest knows that Jesus prohibits anyone from calling anyone on earth “father,” except in a biological sense (“Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Matt 23:9, HCSB).

That reminds me of the conversation I was privileged to be a part of at a board of trustees meeting for LifeWay Christian Resources. The Holman Christian Standard Bible had not been released, but trustees were receiving hard copies of books as translations were being completed. Dr. Jimmy Draper, President of LifeWay Christian Resources, escorted Dr. Ed. Blum, the General Editor of the HCSB into the room were we were eating lunch one day and stopped at my table. He told Dr. Blum that a man sitting across from me had a question for him. Dr. Blum sat down and the trustee from Florida, a gracious Hispanic man who served as a Director of Mission in the Miami area, expressed concern that the HCSB had the word slave, whereas he was used to seeing the word servant, or bond-servant. Dr. Blum explained that the HCSB is a literal translation, and that the translators translated the Greek literally. When you become a believer in Jesus Christ, you become His slave. I know that word shocks a lot of people for two reasons. First, America is still divided between guilt and anger over slavery that ended in America a century and a half ago - even though no one can get Americans interested in slavery that is going on in the world today. Descendants of slaves are giving their children Islamic names, not realizing their role in buying and selling their ancestors. We condemn slavery that existed in America two hundred years ago, but have no compassion for those children who have not only seen Muslims kill their parents because they became Christians, and they themselves have been sold into slavery. Slavery is a horrible institution, whenever, or wherever it exists. The point in the Bible is that once you receive Jesus as Savior, you belong to Him - you have been bought with a price.

Dear believer, you belong to Jesus, not the pope or any other person on earth. The pope has never saved anyone. Organized religion has never saved anyone. Jesus saves, and only Jesus saves. There has been a concerted effort by millions of Catholics to have Mary names Co-Redemptrix with Christ. They are serious, but why should we be surprised when they keep calling Mary, “Mother of God.” Now, let me stress one more point: There are Catholics who are saved, and there are Baptists who are lost. I even have a friend who is a Roman Catholic priest and he assured me that he is a born-again Christian. His Baptist grandmother led him to the Lord when he was young.

Today, I would like to honor Mary. She was indeed blessed among women. Mary was the mother of the human Jesus and she became the child of Christ at some point in her life. What better way to honor mothers than to honor the most blessed of all mothers. What better way to honor the mother of Jesus than to do what she says? What does she say? Can we know? Yes. How can we know? The Bible tells us so. What does it say? I am glad you asked. Let us look at John 2:1 and following.


A. Jesus Launched His Ministry at a Wedding Feast in Cana of Galilee, 2:1-5.

“On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding as well. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother told Him, ‘They don’t have any wine.’ ‘What has this concern of yours to do with Me, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.’ ‘Do whatever He tells you, His mother told the servants” (2:1-5, HCSB).

Mary was obviously involved in the festivities at a wedding in Cana of Galilee when Jesus and His disciples arrived. The wedding may well have involved friends and relatives. We are given the basics of the narrative here, but certain things stand out. First, Jesus’ mother seems to understand that He has begun His ministry. It is inconceivable that He would have kept this from her. She knew who He was and why He was on earth. He was several years older than Jewish men of the day were when they began their life’s work. He had shown up at the wedding with his first disciples.

Like a loving mother, Mary sought to help her son get off to a good start. When they ran out of wine she came to Him and announced that they were out of wine. She may have simply expected Him to go purchase some more - we are not told. What she heard must also have gone beyond her expectations. Note the exchange:

Mary: “They don’t have any wine.”

Jesus: “What has this concern of yours to do with Me, woman.”

Was Jesus being rude to His mother? Did He dishonor her? That is inconceivable. So, what happened? Our Catholic friends tell us that Mary launched His ministry at that time. I jokingly said, “No. At the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, Jesus gently put His mother Mary in her place.” He really did, you know. I well remember when my mother found me a place to preach when I was a student at Mississippi College - my grandmother’s church! If I didn’t go and preach at her church she might never get to hear me preach - that is what my grandmother said. I assured my mother, whom I respected with all my heart, that I would be happy to preach at my grandmother’s church if the pastor needed a pulpit supply one Sunday, but that I would not go to her church and preach just so my grandmother could hear me. By the way, my grandmother was around for another twenty years! I visited with her often over the years, and I am sure she heard me preach from time to time.

Jesus is not being rude to His mother. What He is doing is gently and courteously reminding her that she cannot direct His ministry. Up until now He has been her son, but from this time forward He must be her Lord. Was Mary offended by His response? Absolutely not. She understood, and no doubt rejoiced in it. How do we know that? Look at her response:

“Do whatever He tells you, His mother told the servants.”

That says it all! Those who recognize the fact that Mary was “blessed among women” - should heed the blessed mother of Jesus. Those who seek to honor her can find no better way than to pay attention to what she said. Some of you can remember a time when your father left home to go to work or to go on a trip, and he stopped and looked at you and said, “You mind your mother, you hear?” Today, I am going to ask you to mind the mother of Jesus - not the mother of God, but a child of God who understood that Jesus is Lord and no one can call Him Lord unless they obey Him.

B. The Servants Obeyed Jesus, 2:6-10.

“Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification. Each contained 20 or 30 gallons. ‘Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then He said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the chief servant.” And they did. When the chief servant tasted the water (after it had become wine), he did not know where it came from—though the servants who had drawn the water knew. He called the groom and told him, ‘“Everybody sets out the fine wine first, then, after people have drunk freely, the inferior. But you have kept the fine wine until now” (emphasis added).

C. Jesus Displayed His Glory, 2:11.

“Jesus performed this first sign in Cana of Galilee. He displayed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him” (2:1-11, HCSB).

Mary told the servants to do what Jesus said. They did and He displayed His glory and His disciples grew in their faith. Some may understand this to mean that because Jesus demonstrated His power in changing the water to wine His disciples believed He was the Son of God. The point they are missing is that Jesus had just given them His first sign that He was the Messiah. How? By performing a miracle that symbolized the fact that He had come to change the water of Judaism into the new wine of Christianity. The six water pots were there for ceremonial washing (“six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification). These water pots were not for drinking water. They were told to draw water and fill the six water pots. When they had done that, He said, “Now draw some out and take it to the chief servant.” The word Jesus used did not mean to dip from one of the water pots, it mean to draw from a depth - the seventh drawing! That which was incomplete (illustrated by the number six) was converted into that which was perfect (the seventh drawing). Jesus did not come to change or cancel the Law, but to fulfill it.

Those at the wedding feast were blessed beyond anything they could have anticipated when those servants did what Jesus told them to do. Jesus, of course, could have accomplished His purpose without the help of those servants, but He chose to include them. Just as He chooses to include us in His ministry to the world today.

If Mary has a word for us today, it would be this: “Whatever He says, do it. It is not what I say that matters, it is what He says.” If you would honor the most blessed of women, turn to Jesus and obey Him. What is His word for us today? His word never changes, and you find it in the Bible. So, you cannot honor Mary, or obey Jesus if you are not spending a lot of time in the Word of God.


A. Jesus Tells Us How to Be Saved, John 3:16-18.

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not judged, but anyone who does not believe is already judged, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God” (John 3:16-18).

Man may complicate God’s salvation, but Jesus stated it so simply that young children understand it, and if they are exposed to this simple Gospel in Sunday School, worship service, Vacation Bible School, and at home, most of them will simply do what Jesus says and they will be saved. Those who find salvation too deep for them, or too complicated, are those who have stopped listening to Jesus and started listening to the devil.

Those who will listen to Jesus may well start with John 3:16, which has been called the Little Gospel, or the Gospel in a nutshell. I remember when my younger son was offended when Dr. Sam Gore told him to remember an old principle in giving a report in his art class at Mississippi College. He wrote one the board, KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid. Mark called me and could not believe that anyone as gracious as Dr. Gore would say something so harsh. He had been around Dr. Gore all his life. I assured him Sam was joking - that it was an old joke. He had said a lot worse to me! As a matter of fact, if I could find one of my MC annuals I could show you where he signed his name under the note, “Remember, a shut mouth catches no flies.” Sam simply wanted Mark to keep his project simple. For those who like to keep it simple, what Jesus says here is a simple as it can get. Believe in Jesus and you will receive eternal life. Those who do not believe in Him will perish.

Please note that Jesus set before us both heaven and hell. My brother Mike raised some eyebrows when someone in his Sunday School class raised a question about what was happening in churches in the area. He said, “I will tell you what is wrong. You will find very few pastors in this city who are going to preach about sin today, and no one who is going to mention hell.” Of course he knew that someone might mention it, and there are some who do mention hell. What he meant was that it is not popular to preach on sin or its consequences- and some are determined to preach popular sermons. After all, if you want a lot of people to come to hear you preach, don’t you have to give them what they want?

Jesus is very clear in John 3:16-18, and everything else He says about our salvation is consistent with this. Let us look briefly at the background for those words:

“There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Him at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.’

“Jesus replied, ‘I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God...Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again” (John 3:1-8).

You must be born again! I met Mr. Carl Hart at a deer camp in the late sixties and continued to visit and witness to him for a number of years. He told me about going to a church one time when the pastor told them they needed to turn over a new leaf. Mr. Carl said, “I knew I needed a lot more than that!” I will never forget t he day I was driving home after some visits and realized that I had not seen Mr. Carl in some time. I really wanted to go home, but felt compelled to stop by his house. I thought we were going to have the same kind of visit. However, instead of talking about beagles he talked about his heart attack and what Dr. Tugwell told him. Finally, I asked, “Mr Carl, when you go back to see Dr. Tugwell, if he told you he could give you a new prescription and if you took it you would never have heart trouble again, would you take what he prescribed?” He said, “Oh, my goodness yes!” I explained that he had another kind of heart trouble and that Jesus, the Great Physician, had something that He would give him - and if you will take what He offers you will never have that kind of heart trouble again. I asked if he would ask Jesus for his healing. There was no response and I asked if I might pray with him. I thought as I closed the prayer that it would be like all the other times, but as I looked up tears were streaming down his face. He said, “God must have sent you my here today.”

Several years later I went to see Mr. Carl after he had experienced another heart attack. He loved church and hated to miss. He loved our people. He said, “You tell those people at church that the Bible says you gotta’ be born again, and by golly, I’ve been born again.” I told them exactly what he said.

If you would honor Mary, the most blessed of mothers, listen to Jesus and do what He says. If you would honor your mother (certainly this applies to my mother), listen to Jesus and do what He says. Jesus says you gotta be born again. But that is not all He says.

B. The Sermon on the Mount Expresses the Character of the Kingdom of God, Matt. 5-7.

Fear not, you will get out in time for lunch! I am not going to preach through the Sermon on the Mount, as much as I would love it. In fact, I have written a verse by verse commentary on the Sermon on the Mount and the thought just hit me - I need to go back and read it to see what I said. I delay because I cannot read anything I have written in the past without feeling the need to re-write it.

The Sermon on the Mount sets down the nature and character of the Kingdom of God. There has never been anything else like it. It surpasses the Mosaic Law, even more that the Mosaic Law surpasses the Code of Hammurabi and all other codes. The United States of America was founded on the principles set forth in the Sermon on the Mount. Liberals and secularists may kick and scream their denials, but the Founders themselves tell us it is true.

The Sermon on the Mount was given by the Lord of the Kingdom for the citizens of His Kingdom. While it is the greatest code of ethics the world has ever know, it is given to born-again believers in Jesus Christ. The world cannot hope to live up to the principles set down by Jesus in this sermon, and I do believe it was a sermon, not a collection of His wise sayings. For those who believer it was too long to have been preached in one sermon, let me tell you that I knew a man who memorized the Sermon on the Mount and recited it one Sunday at the morning worship service. That pastor was H. R. Herrington, pastor of First Baptist Church, Rayville, LA, for many years.

The Sermon of the Mount was delivered with power and authority. Over and over, Jesus said, “You have heard it said.....but I say unto you...” The people were amazed that He taught with authority. We do not have time to look at all the precepts set down in the Sermon on the Mount, but I would like to share the principles that will cover most of them:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, because they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matt 5:3-10, HCSB).

C. Jesus Tells Us What We Need to Know to Honor Him.

1. He tells us what we need to know about life.
2. He tells us what we need to know about death.
3. He tells us what we need to know about heaven.
4. He tells us what we need to know about hell.
5. He tells us what we need to know about how to treat others.
6. He tells us what we need to know about worshiping Him.
7. He tells us what we need to know about His Day.
8. He tells us what we need to know about the future.

Jesus’ earthly mother told the servants to obey Him. My mother taught her children to obey Jesus. I know a lot of people make that claim, but Jesus was her life. I preached a revival in our home town of Sledge, Mississippi after my mother had been in heaven for 12 years and was amazed that people were still talking about her commitment to Jesus. James, Linda, Mike, and I were at church every time the doors were opened - or as close to it as one can imagine. I might add, that our father was supportive and encouraging, but Mother’s faith touched a lot of people. I had the privilege of baptizing my younger brother and sister, marrying all of them, and ordaining both my brothers as deacons. James was district manager for a major company for many years. Linda is married to Jimmy Furr, who has been a pastor, a regional director for the Southern Baptist Interfaith Witness Department, and now Director of Missions for the Carroll-Benton Baptist Association in Tennessee. Mike is a Christians attorney in Monroe, Louisiana. There are “Christians lawyers” who make sure everyone knows it. Mike does not market himself as “A Christian Attorney”, but he has been a great roll model for my older son John and a host of other lawyers.

Some time ago, Mark, my younger son, told me about a conversation Tonya Courson, a committed Christian attorney. Tonya had driven to Columbia to visit an ailing elderly attorney for whom she had worked when she got out of law school. After visiting with the man, she visited with this wife. Before leaving, the older lady said, “An attorney from Monroe visited my husband a few days ago and before he left he said, ‘I am going to have to ask you if you have a relationship with the Lord. Do you know Jesus as your Savior?’ He then had prayer with the older attorney.”

Tonya Courson asked, “Who was the Monroe attorney?” She said, “Mike Sanders.” I have never heard Mike mention it. I doubt that anyone else has heard him mention it. As a matter of fact, he told me one time when he was a young attorney about a national honor he had received that he had never even mentioned to any of his partners. He simply said, “Daddy is not here, so I will share it with my older brother.”

I would say that Mike has heeded the blessed mother - he obeyed Jesus. For one thing, he visited one Jesus would have him visit. Secondly, he witnessed to the man he visited. Thirdly, he did not take credit, brag of his devotion, boast of witnessing, or tell the right hand what the left hand was doing. He also honored our mother by obeying Jesus. One judge explained to an attorney from New Orleans, “Mr, Smith, if Mr. Sanders tells you something take it to the bank.” A local attorney and I visited at my health club a number of years ago and he told me that when he met Mike at his office the first time he left wondering if he was a Christian. He said, “I create a lot of tension and Mike has a way of defusing tension.” Instead of parading his faith before the legal community he practices his faith in everything he does,

My father was scrupulously honest, both with a penny and his word. He was a quiet man who did not imposes his views or values on others, but if you wanted to know what he thought all you had to do was ask. He didn’t always answer, but if he did you could be sure the was honest - at times, brutally honest. Mother was a great spiritual influence and as the older son it is a source of great joy to know that I make it to heaven first I want to tell Mother that her children love the Lord, study His Word, and spend time with the Lord in prayer. There is more: there has never been a time that I would not trust my brothers and sister. My siblings heed the advice and instructions of a godly mother. Children of our Heavenly Father should heed the advice of His earthly mother.

D. Jesus Tells Us to Study and Apply the Word of God.

1. He taught from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue.
2. He often quoted the Old Testament.
3. He found Himself in the Old Testament.
4. He said the Pharisees did err in not knowing the Scripture.
5. You and I err in not knowing the Scripture.
6. You can never claim to obey Jesus if you do not know the Word of God.

It is amazing what the Holy Spirit will reveal to you when you read God’s Word and meditate on it. You can read a passage over and over, and then go back and discover something you had not noticed before. That happened this week when I was reading Isaiah 56:1-7 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible. I don’t know how many times I have read that passage before, but this time I was drawn to the personal pronoun: “This is what the Lord says: Preserve justice and do what is right, for My salvation is coming soon, and My righteousness will be revealed....”

Listen to the Lord’s use of the first person possessive pronoun:

My Sabbaths.....My covenant.....My house.....My walls.....My covenant.....My holy mountain .......
My house of prayer.....My altar.....”My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”


Today, I believe with all my heart that if the most blessed of all mothers could speak with us audibly today, she would say, “What ever He says, do it.” I know for a fact that the most important thing my mother ever taught me was to do what ever Jesus wants me to do.

Today, there may be some people here who do not honor Jesus as you should. There may be mothers here who are not be directing their children to Jesus as Mary did. I am going to ask you to prayerfully commit yourself to Him right now.

There may be some mothers here who have never considered just what kind of an impact you may have on your children, or your neighbors if you will first, follow the instructions of Mary, the most blessed of mothers. Follow her example and persuade others to obey Jesus in all things.

May we be practical for just a moment? We have mothers who take their children to church on Sunday and think of themselves as faithful, committed Christians, but the rest of the week they dress their little girls (or big girls) in such a way that would embarrass the temple prostitutes at Corinth. They allow their children to watch vile, filthy programs on Television. They take them to movies where adultery, divorce, homosexuality, profanity, lying, obscenities, and various other forms of filth passes for entertainment. Some mothers who profess to having the kingdom of God in their hearts refuse to live in the heart of the kingdom. They live their lives on the borderline. You can hardly tell them from the people on the other side. Some neighbors would be surprised to learn that they are Christians. Mothers, you can help us clean up our society and turn our culture back to the Lord. Teach your daughters to be godly ladies. Teach your sons to be Christian gentlemen. Teach them to respect others - to respect the property of others. Teach them to honor their elders. Teach them reverence for God, for God’s Day, God’s Name, and God’s church. Teach them to do what Jesus tells them to do.

Right now, Jesus may be calling on you to repent and believe in Him so that you will receive eternal life. He may be convicting you of the importance of prayer, Bible Study, and soul winning. Will you heed the blessed mother and obey Jesus Christ?

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