Magazine article The Christian Century

By Our Love

Magazine article The Christian Century

By Our Love

Article excerpt

On February 19, 1998, a car sped across the grassy median of Interstate 95 near West Palm Beach into southbound traffic, then back into the northbound lanes. At least three people reported seeing a woman throw her infant son through the driver's side window. When questioned by police, Krisann Haddad said she would "rather have her child dead than in this world."

We are shocked that a mother would try to take the life of her own child. Normally, it is just the opposite: a mother will lay down her own life rather than see her child come to any harm. In 1 Kings 3:16-18, Solomon, the wise king of Israel, depends on that truth to settle a dispute between two mothers.

One of them relates the story: she and the other woman were living in the same house. They gave birth to sons within days of each other. One night the other woman discovered that her child had died, took the first woman's living child from her arms and replaced him with her dead son. The first woman tells the king, "When I rose in the morning to nurse my son I saw that he was dead; but when I looked at him closely in the morning, clearly it was not the son I had borne." The king is asked to settle the case. Who is the real mother? How can he tell? By testing the strength of love.

"Bring me a sword," he says calmly, and when he proposes to divide the child and give half to each mother the real mother protests, "Please, my lord, give her the living boy; certainly do not kill him!" But the other mother coolly retorts, "it shall be neither yours nor mine; divide it" (notice the language: the real mother refers to her son as "the living boy," the other woman twice refers to him as "it"). "Give the first woman the living boy," Solomon says, his voice full of sympathy, "do not kill him. She is his mother." How did he know? Her true identity was revealed by her love.

After Judas goes into the physical and spiritual darkness of the night in John 13, Jesus turns to his remaining disciples and, like a mother on her deathbed, says, "Little children, I am with you only a little longer."

You can almost imagine a mother bidding her children good-by. Gathered around her bed in a crumbling farmhouse, the younger ones, wide-eyed, clutch cornshuck dolls and wipe their noses on their sleeves. The older ones try to be brave, but are unable to keep an occasional tear from spilling and washing wet tracks down their dirty cheeks.

"Little children," says Jesus, "you will look for me, but where I am going you cannot come."

Even the youngest ones sense that something is dreadfully wrong. …

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