The gift of motherhood

220 the gift of maternityMotherhood is one of the greatest works in the creation of God. That came back to my mind when I recently thought about what I could give my mother and mother-in-law to my wife and mother-in-law. I like to remember the words of my mother, who often told my sisters and me how happy she was to be our mother. Having given birth to us, she would have completely rediscovered the love and greatness of God. I could only begin to understand that when our own children were born. I still remember how surprised I was when, with my wife Tammy, the pain of childbirth turned to an awesome joy as she held our son and daughter in our arms. For the past few years, it has been awe-inspiring to think of mothers' love. Of course there is a difference to my way of love and we have also experienced the love of our father in other ways.

Given the intimacy and strength of motherly love, I am not surprised that Paul incorporates motherhood into important statements about God's covenant with human beings when he writes the following in Galatian 4,22-26 (Luther 84):

"For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one of the maid, the other of the free. But that of the servant was begotten of the flesh, that of the free, but by the promise. These words have deeper meaning. For the two women signify two covenants: one from Mount Sinai, which gives birth to bondage, that is Hagar; for Hagar means Mount Sinai in Arabia and is a parable of the present Jerusalem, which lives in bondage with its children. But the Jerusalem which is above, that is the free; this is our mother. "

As just read, Abraham had two sons: these were Isaac from his wife Sara and Ishmael from his handmaid Hagar. Ishmael was born naturally. With Isaac, however, a miracle was needed because of a promise, since his mother Sara was no longer of childbearing age. So it was thanks to God's intervention that Isaac was born. Jacob was born to Isaac (his name was later changed to Israel) and so Abraham, Isaac and Jacob became the progenitors of the people of Israel. At this point it is important to point out that all women of the ancestral fathers could have children only through the supernatural intervention of God. For many generations, the lineage leads to Jesus, the Son of God, who was born a human. Please read what TF Torrance wrote:

The chosen tool of God in the hand of God for the salvation of the world is Jesus of Nazareth, born of the womb of Israel - but he was not only a tool, but God Himself. He came in human form as a servant to our inner nature with his To heal limitations and its insubordination, and to triumphantly restore the living communion with God through the reconciliation of God with humanity.

We recognize Jesus in the story of Isaac. Isaac came into the world through supernatural intervention, whereas Jesus' birth goes back to supernatural procreation. Isaac had been designated as a potential victim, but Jesus was indeed and voluntarily the atoning sacrifice that reconciled humanity with God. There is also a parallel between Isaac and us. The supernatural intervention in Isaac's birth corresponds to the (supernatural) rebirth of the Holy Spirit. We become brothers in Jesus (Joh 3,3, 5). We are no longer children of bondage under law, but adopted children, taken up in God's family and kingdom, and have there an eternal inheritance. This hope is certain.

In Galatians 4, Paul compares the old and the new covenant. As we have read, he associates Hagar with the people of Israel under the ancient covenant at Sinai, and with the Mosaic law, which promised no family affiliation and no inheritance in God's kingdom. With the new covenant, Paul refers back to the original promises (with Abraham) that God should become the God of Israel and Israel his people, and through them all families on earth should be blessed. These promises are fulfilled in God's covenant of grace. Sara was given a son, indigenous as a direct family member. Grace works the same way. Through Jesus' act of grace, people become adopted children, children of God with an eternal inheritance.

Paul distinguishes between Hagar and Sara in Galatian 4. Hagar connects Paul with the then Jerusalem, a city under Roman rule and the law. Sara, on the other hand, stands for the "Jerusalem that is above", the mother of all children of the grace of God with an inheritance. The heritage is much more than any city. It is the "Heavenly City (Offb 21,2) of the Living God" (Hebr 12,22) that will one day come down to earth. Heavenly Jerusalem is our hometown, where our true citizenship is. Paul calls Jerusalem, which is above, the freemen; she is our mother (Gal 4,26). Connected to Christ through the Holy Spirit, we are free citizens and adopted by the Father as His children.

I thank God for Sara, Rebekah and Lea, the three tribal mothers at the beginning of the lineage of Jesus Christ. God chose these mothers, however imperfect they were, as well as Mary, the mother of Jesus, to send his Son to earth as a human being and who sent us the Holy Spirit to make us children of his father. Mother's Day is a special opportunity to thank our God of the Grace Covenant for the gift of motherhood. We thank him for our own mother, our mother-in-law and wife - for all mothers. Motherhood is truly an expression of God's wonderfully life-giving goodness.

Full of gratitude for the gift of motherhood,

Joseph Tkach


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