Lifters by Pastor Carl W. Mann, II

John 19:25 (KJV) “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.”

I cannot comprehend the angst and consequent anxiety that Mary, the mother of Jesus, experienced as she stood at the Cross of Jesus and watched Him die!  I can only imagine the myriad of thoughts that passed through her mind as she gazed upon the battered face of her Son and knew she was powerless to do anything to relieve His pain or reverse His predicament.

I wonder if Mary thought back to the moment when she said “Yes” to the conditional announcement by Gabriel that God had chosen her to be the “living tabernacle” in which the Son of God would be fashioned, and through which, the Son of God would be delivered to a lost and dying world.

The blessing of being the mother of the Son of God was conditioned upon Mary’s acceptance of God’s will and her willingness to “share the burden of God’s heart” in providing Jesus, the Savior of the world!

Luke 1:38(KJV) “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Emphasis Mine).

The words, or offer, of God through His Angel Gabriel, carried no command; however, they carried a condition.  Mary was NOT commanded to become the mother of the Son of God.  She was offered the opportunity to join God in His Plan of Salvation.  Mary chose to be a “lifter,” and join the ranks of the redeemed and the elite group that would be called His “chosen.”

Mary accepted that she would be required to offer the first real sacrifice in the Plan of Salvation.  You see, her virginity, or at least the “tokens” of such virginity, would have to be sacrificed in her acceptance of God’s will.  Certainly, the reality of her virginity would remain intact, however there would be no way she could prove her chastity in the Plan of Salvation; for, everyone “knew” that no woman becomes impregnated without the active sexual involvement of a human male.  Thus, Mary’s heart was immediately stricken with sorrow because she would have to surrender that which every true maiden of Israel held dearer than life itself.  BUT, she was willing to become the “handmaid of the Lord” to “Lift” her Son so that He could fulfill God’s Desire.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, would “Lift” Jesus throughout His life.

  • She began by lowering herself so that He could be exalted.  Mary accepted the title of “handmaid of the Lord,” and in so doing, willingly identified herself as God’s “Female Slave.”  She relinquished ownership of her life to the God of Glory.  I believe her attitude as a servant would “Lift” her Son to do the same.
  • Mary “Lifted” Jesus up and fed Him at her breast while whispering His Name and singing and speaking the Word of God into His ears and spirit.
  • Mary “Lifted” Jesus up as she surrendered her “control” into the administrative and authoritative nurturing of His adopted father.
  • Mary “Lifted” Jesus up, and helped Him begin His Messianic Ministry, when she instructed the servants at the “Marriage at Cana” to follow the instructions Jesus gave them.
  • At Calvary, Mary stood by her Son as He was “Lifted” up as the Lamb of God.

I believe that every time Mary “Lifted” Jesus up, her heart was pierced with sorrow.  She was reminded with every “Lift” that one day she would see Him “Lifted” up as the brazen serpent was “lifted” before the Israelites in the wilderness.

John 3:14-15 (KJV) “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Emphasis Mine).

Mary took being the mother of Jesus seriously.  She understood that giving birth to a child does not necessarily ensure that a woman will be a “mother.” Mary accepted the requirements of successful motherhood that would be evidenced by spending long days, and long nights, caressing, correcting, channeling, challenging, chastening, and comforting her Son while expecting nothing in return.  Being the mother of the Son of God would require that Mary would have to choose to be “Lifter,” not a “Leaner.”  I believe Jesus learned the “Gift of Lifting” from His mother.

In my 40+ years of pastoral teaching and preaching, I’ve experienced that “hearts” are manifested in two ways – “Lifters or Leaners.”  I’ve also referred to these as “Givers or Takers.”

I’m grateful that Mary, the mother of the Son of God, was a “Lifter.”

Lifting and Leaning

There are two kinds of people on earth today,

Just two kinds of people, no more, I say.

Not the good and the bad, for ‘tis well understood

The good are half-bad and the bad are half-good.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift-flying years

Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.

Not the rich and the poor, for to count a man’s wealth,

You must first know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life’s busy span,

Who puts on vain airs is not counted a man.

No! The two kinds of people on earth I mean

Are the people who lift and the people who lean.

Wherever you go you will find the world’s masses

Are ever divided in just these two classes.

And strangely enough you will find, too, I ween,

There is only one lifter to twenty who lean.

In which class are you? Are you easing the load

Of overtaxed lifters who toil down the road?

Or are you a leaner who lets other bear

Your portion of worry and labor and care?

–Ella Wheeler Wilcox, American poet (1850–1919) 

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers – especially to those who are, or were, “Lifters!”