Women of Faith - Jochebed - Exodus 2:1-10
I have to confess that when it comes to watching television, Anita and I are crime show junkies. We used to watch CSI—all the variations of them—but after they stopped, we had to decide what to watch. With Netflix on hand, we settled on trying Criminal Minds—and that has continued to be one of our primary weekly shows. The fourteenth episode of the first season was probably the clincher for me. It was called “Riding the Lightning.” In this episode, the Behavior Analysis Unit is sent to interview a husband and wife who are on death row for the murder of 12 girls and their son, whose body has never been found. The husband has confessed to the murder of the girls (the number of which, during the show goes from 12 to 13 to 14 to 18), the wife has only confessed to killing the son after being directed to by her husband, but is on death row, considered an accomplice of her husband. As the show moves forward, it becomes evident that the husband had succumbed fully to the lure of evil and was guilty of all the crimes and more. However, the more the team learns, the more convinced Gideon, a seasoned member of the team, believes that the wife had no comprehension of what her husband had done, and furthermore, that she had not killed her son. Piecing together evidence, Gideon and the team discover that Sarah had found someone to adopt her two-year-old son, and raise him as their own, completely oblivious as to who his parents were. Gideon wants to use this information to save her from being executed…she begs him not to…to let her son live his new life in peace without the burden of being connected to his dad…Gideon reluctantly agrees and Sarah goes to the electric chair, offering up her life to ensure her son has a good life, free from the burden of his father’s sins.
A mother’s love…a mother’s sacrifice…all during the show, there were three paintings present that were hand painted by Sarah during her imprisonment. Those paintings were key to Gideon and his team figuring out that Sarah’s son was still alive. Among those paintings was a painting of a river twisting and turning through some reeds…connecting her story to another well-known story.
Through the God-given resourcefulness of Joseph, the Egyptians, the Hebrews people, and others survived the drought that struck the region. The Hebrew people that had moved to Egypt during the drought remained there and began to thrive…they thrived so well, that the new Pharaoh who rose to power long after Joseph’s death felt that the Hebrews were overrunning the Egyptians and so Pharaoh made the decision to enslave the Hebrew people and then commanded the midwives to kill any male Hebrew babies they delivered. The midwives refused, lying to Pharaoh as to why they hadn’t killed the babies, and so Pharaoh, in his anger, demanded every male child born to the Hebrew people was to be thrown into the Nile. One of the moms, a Levite woman, gave birth to a baby boy. She couldn't bear to see him drowned, so she hid him, for about three months. When she realized she couldn’t hide him anymore, she devised a plan…a plan that would rip her apart emotionally, but a plan that would hopefully give life to her son.
This mother, called Jochebed, took some papyrus, bitumen, and pitch and formed a basket. She placed her little boy in the basket, and when she knew that the daughter of the Pharaoh would be bathing in the river, she placed the basket holding her little boy into the water, near the bank, among the reeds. Pharaoh’s daughter, as she was bathing, discovered the baby, her heart broken with his crying, refused to see her father’s orders carried out, took the little baby and raised him as her own, naming him Moses. Jochebed’s love and sacrifice not only saved the life of her son, but ended up saving all of God’s people from slavery in Egypt.
The love of these two mothers is reflective of the source of that love, the source of every mother’s love for their child, the source of all love. Sarah’s love of her son, the love of Moses’ mother for her son, is reflective of the love of God—it fact they offer a perfect image of the love of God.
Some may balk at this idea for a variety of reasons.
One objection springs from the idea, somehow, that God is male. Why? Because the language we find in much of Scripture uses masculine language about God and most of Church history and tradition depicts God as a man with long, flowing white hair. We have to remember that many of those paintings were done by men looking in the mirror, remaking God in their image, and we forget that it is the other way around, we are made in God’s image. While Jesus, fully divine and fully human was male, and prayed to God the Father, the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is beyond being considered either male or female. In fact there are references to God in very feminine terms in Scripture itself, such as the words of Jesus, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings….”[i] Yes, most of us typically use male pronouns to reference God…but even in that God is not a guy…nor is God a gal…God is beyond that…in His Image both male and female…both fathers and mothers are created…and that image is love…Love that is reflected in a Mother’s Love for her child.
Others may object suggesting that God didn’t sacrifice Himself to save His Son, He sent His Son to die. Here’s where I am going to push us this morning. Yes, we read Biblically, that God sent His Son to die for our sins…and people are horrified that any parent would send their child off to die, particularly for someone else, someone considered the enemy of the parent. When we get all worked up this way, we forget another truth about God. We worship a Trinitarian God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—One God in Three…the Father, Son, and Spirit are not three separate entities, they are one acting together, though one aspect of God may take the forefront, all are present together. In the coming of Jesus, God decided that it was time to intervene in the world in a way as never before. God came to offer His very own life as God the Son, as Jesus…God did not force His Son to come die…God offered His very own life for ours…sacrificing Himself that His Children might not be bound to sin…that His Children might not be trapped by their past or the past of their parents’ sin…God sacrificed Himself that each of us might have life—that we might live into a future freed of slavery to any sin, and freed of the threat of death. This, my brothers, this, my sisters, is a mother’s love outpoured. The love that God has for each of us…the love that God has placed within all of the women here, whether they sacrifice themselves for their biological children or for other children…the love that God actually places within each of us…
In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…Amen.