The Queen Of Glory
May 9th, 1993 @ 10:50 AM
THE QUEEN OF GLORY: A MOTHER AND HER BABY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-9-93 10:50 a.m.
And welcome the throngs and multitudes of you who share this hour on our wonderful radio station and the network that carries the message from our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas. The title of the sermon is The Queen of Glory: A Mother and Her Baby.
Many years ago I preached through my first mission in Russia. And in the Baptist Church in Moscow—in a city of six million people at that time, had one Baptist church, built kind of like this and thronged with attendance, all around the perimeter, up and down the aisles, and especially attended by many, many women; older women—in the delivery of the message, I began to speak of the toll of the recent war, the Second World War. And I spoke of the common denominator in human suffering.
And in describing it, I mentioned the tears of an American mother whose son was killed in the war, the tears of an English mother whose son was slain in the war, the tears of a French mother, the tears of a German mother, the tears of a Russian mother. And to my surprise, that entire congregation burst into sobs. It was a phenomenal experience to me. And after the service was over, one of the ministers said, “I know you were overwhelmed by the response of those weeping, sobbing mothers, but you have to realize,” he said, “that every one of those mothers had lost a son in the war.”
There is something about mothers and Mother’s Day that goes across every boundary in human life. There are boundaries for the state, boundaries for the nation, boundaries for culture, boundaries for tribes, but there are no boundaries for a mother’s love. It is universal.
And so we read in Exodus chapter 2:
A man of the house of Levi took a wife, a daughter of that tribe.
She conceived, bare a son, saw him to be a beautiful child. She hid him for three months.
And when the child could no longer be hid, she made an ark, put the lad in it and laid it in the reeds in the Nile River.
His sister stood afar off.
And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the river. She saw the ark and sent one of her maids to get it.
And when she opened it, she saw a child; and behold, the child wept, the child cried. And in her compassion, she looked and said, This is one of the Hebrew children.
And the sister said, Shall I go and call a nurse from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?
And Pharaoh’s daughter said, Go. So the maid went and called the child’s mother.
Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to the mother, Take this child and nurse it for me and I will give you wages. So the woman took the child and nursed him.
And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Rameses.
All of those great Egyptian kings in that era from 1500 BC and for three hundred years full, they were named Rameses: the great sun god, “Ra,” and Moses, “drawn out, lifted up.” She called him Rameses. Then, of course, after God called in the Exodus, they took off that heathen deity named “Ra,” and it was “Moses,” one of the most amazing of all of the stories in human history! The child wept, and the compassionate daughter of Pharaoh took the lad to be her own [Exodus 2:6-10].
In the gold rush in California, a mother took her little baby to the theater. And as the orchestra began to play, the child began to cry. And an old prospector stood up and hollered and said, “Stop those fiddles and let’s hear the baby cry! I haven’t heard a sound like that in over twenty years.” And the people applauded, and the orchestra stopped, and the baby cried amid the applause of those in attendance. Oh dear! No marriage is successful until it has a howling member of the family. The baby is born. No church is successful until it has a howling nursery full of babies. That baby and that mother, dear me, what an addition and what an experience!
I was in Ogbomosho, West Africa, and they were seeking to establish through the hands of the missionaries a dispensary there, the beginnings of a little hospital. And nothing would do them but that I take one of those newborn, naked babies and hold it in my arms while they took a picture of me. And as I held that little thing, that strange inhabitant of “Lapland,” as I held it in my arms, it ruined me from top to bottom. And I remembered that saying, “A baby is an alimentary canal, an alimentary canal with a loud noise at one end and no responsibility at the other.” So, there’s no dullness, only brightness and life when mother presents the baby.
And the little fellow said to his mother, “Why doesn’t baby talk?”
And mother said to the little fellow, “Well, babies don’t talk.”
And the little fellow said, “Mother, I was in Sunday school, and the teacher read to us out of the Bible that Job cursed the day he was born.”
And little Edgar said to his mother when they were getting ready to take him to the hospital for a tonsillectomy—they put me under the chloroform when I had my tonsils out—so the little boy said to his mother in reply to her, “I promise I’ll be brave, I’ll be brave. I’ll go to the hospital and undergo that operation. But I don’t want any crying baby put off on me as they did you when you went to the hospital. I want a pup.”
Always, interesting and alive and quickened when the baby is born!
So the mother shaped the destiny of the world. As with many of you, I have visited the memorial where Abraham Lincoln is buried in Springfield, Illinois—one of the most impressive monuments in the earth—and read there Secretary of War Stanton’s word when Lincoln died: “Now he belongs to the ages.” Then, as many of you, I have visited the tremendous memorial to Lincoln in Washington, overlooking the Potomac River, facing the Congressional Mall with its Washington Monument and the Congressional parliaments. Then, most of all, as I journeyed, drove my little car to my pastorate in Kentucky, I passed by the Lincoln Memorial in Hodgenville, Kentucky, where he was born—a beautiful monument built over a tiny log cabin in which he was born.
The monument faces the south and across it, “With malice toward none, with charity for all,” and on the inside, inside, a sentence forever from Abraham Lincoln, “All I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” And as I stood there time and again reading that tribute to his angel and sainted mother, I thought of Abraham Lincoln as a nine-year-old boy with his father, digging the grave and burying her there in the soil and in the earth of Kentucky: shaping the history of the world.
So Constantine, the first Christian in the emperorship of the Roman Empire, won to God by Helena his mother, and I thought of Augustine, the infidel and finally the great theologian, won to the Lord by Monica, his mother. And I thought of Vladimir, the tremendously powerful and gifted commander and emperor of the vast nation of Russia, won to the Lord by his mother Olga, shaping the history of the world and identified with the faith.
I stood one time in the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, where Billy Sunday was converted. And on one side of that mission, John 3:16, and on the other side, “When did you last write to mother?” And as I stood and looked at that I thought, what an amazing thing in that tremendous mission: John 3:16, and by the side of it, “When did you write last the mother?” And as I stood and reviewed it, it dynamically came to my heart, “she is identified with the gospel of Christ and the saving message of the Lord Jesus, our hope and our heaven.”
When God became incarnate, He became incarnate in a mother’s womb [Luke 1:30-31; 2:7]. And the first beatitude in the New Testament is to her, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed the fruit of thy womb” [Luke 1:42]. And as you have heard, she was present at the first miracle of our Lord [John 2:1-10]. And as you heard, she was, in that last moment when He was seen by the world, standing by the cross [John 19:25], and the prophecy of Simeon coming to pass: “And a sword shall pierce thy soul also” [Luke 2:35].
With me, look at her, standing there by the cross [John 19:25]. I would have thought she had been in Galilee. She’s down in Jerusalem. And as I look at her, plainly a peasant woman of poverty—her clothing announces it—she is a Galilean, she has the accent of Galilee. To us we would say, “A provincial illiterate, untaught, a Galilean.” And she is old. She is toward sixty years of age. And according to the life you see in the East, the lines of age are in her face.
You know, one of the strangest things in Christian art and literature, the doctrine of the perpetual virginity and girlhood youth of the Virgin Mary. If you’ve been at St. Peter’s in the Vatican, when you walk through the main door, to your right is that incomparable marble creation of Michelangelo, with Mary holding in her lap the crucified Lord Jesus. And she’s a girl; she looks to be seventeen years of age. And her Son is thirty-three. That’s so strange to me.
Why do people think that youth is a glory time of life, but old age is to be avoided and despaired of? Do you remember Robert Browning’s poem, in “Rabbi Ben Ezra,”
Come, grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made.
Our lives are in His plan
Who saith, “A whole I planned;
Youth shows but half. Trust God; see all, nor be afraid!”
So Mary standing there is old, and the experiences in her life have been varied and sweet, following the incarnate God, the Lord Jesus. In chapter 1 of Luke she bursts forth in a psalm, the Magnificat [Luke 1:46-55]. And in the first chapter of Acts she is there praying with the disciples at Pentecost [Acts 1:14]. And throughout her life, God’s Book says she “pondered these things in her heart” [Luke 2:19]. So Mary stands at the cross [John 19:25].
To the Romans, those three malefactors were put to death. They were executed [John 19:16-18]. That’s the Roman way, universal then, of seeking to deter the work and activity of a criminal. And there are three of them, three malefactors to the Romans: one on either side and one in the middle. But to Mary, standing there at the cross, it was her beloved Son [John 19:25]. And to the Lord Jesus looking down from His crucified throne, He said to John, “John, behold your mother!” And to His dear mother, “Mother, behold your son!” [John 19:26-27]. What an astonishing thing! In the midst of His dying for the sins of the world [John 3:16-17; 1 John 2:2]: “John take care of My mother,” and “Mother, you go live with your son, John,” for her children did not believe in Him [John 7:5].
Society asks, “What is His lineage and His ancestry?” Business asks, “What are His emoluments and His worth?” And law asks, “What is His record and His virtue?” And politics asks, “What is His influence and His elective power?” And the school asks, “What are His degrees and His education?” But mother asks, “What can I do to help, and to remember, and to love?”
One of the most amazing stories I ever read in my life: a young fellow fell in love with a woman, and she looked upon him with contempt. And as he pressed his love, she said, “There is to be one woman in your life, it is I; you fetch for me the heart of your mother and bring it to me.” And the young fellow left, and, in slaying his mother, he took out her heart and was running back to the woman to whom he was professing love. And as he ran, he stumbled and fell, and the mother’s heart dashed out on the ground. And the mother’s heart said to the boy, “Son, did you hurt yourself?”
If I were hanged on the highest hill,
I know whose love would follow me still.
If I were drowned in the deepest sea,
I know whose tears would come down to me.
And if I were damned in body and soul,
I know whose prayers would make me whole.
Mother of mine, mother of mine.
[“Mother o’ Mine,” Rudyard Kipling]
So the angel was sent to bring back to heaven from earth the sweetest, most beautiful things he could find. And when the angel returned, he had brought back a fleecy cloud, a beautiful flower, a baby’s smile, and mother’s love.
The bravest battle that ever was fought;
Shall I tell you where and when?
On the maps of the world, you will find it not.
Twas fought, by the mothers of men.
[From “The Bravest Battle,” Joaquin Miller]
So I buried in our congregation the mother of one of our wonderful men. And after I had performed that memorial service, I received a letter from him of gratitude and appreciation, and in it he enclosed me a poem. And I have cherished it through the years. When Jesus comes and brings with Him God’s children, the saints of the Lord—and this is what happens:
If I should be living when Jesus comes
And could know the day and the hour,
I’d like to be standing at mother’s grave,
When Jesus comes in His power.
There’s coming a time when I can go home
To meet my loved ones up there;
Then I shall see Jesus before His throne
In that bright city so fair.
Twill be a wonderful, happy day,
Gathered on that golden strand
When I can hear Jesus my Savior say,
“Son, greet your mother again.”
[from “Shake Hands With Mother Again,” W. A. Berry]
Standing by her grave, when Jesus raises the dead. If I could be alive and standing there and hear our Lord say, “Son, greet your mother again.” How indebted we are for so much; our Lord, our hope of heaven, our sainted mothers, and the preciousness of the day when we’re all together again.
And thus, our invitation and our appeal in Christ; our hope, our heaven, to give your heart and life in trust to Him. On the first note of the first stanza of this invitation, answer with your life: “Pastor, I have decided for Christ and I’m coming.” A couple of you, a family you, or just one somebody you, on the first note of this first stanza, down one of those stairways from the balcony, down one of these aisles in the press of people on this lower floor: “Pastor, this is God’s day for me and I’m answering with my life,” while we stand and while we sing.