A Maori Mother’s Love

“June 10th, 1886, is a well-remembered day in Rotorua, N.Z.,” writes a well-known author. In the early hours of the morning there was a terrific volcanic eruption. The top of Mount Tarawera was blown away, causing the destruction of the world-famed white and pink terraces, and the death of one hundred and forty persons. The whole of a Maori pah, or village, with its inhabitants was buried forty feet deep in volcanic mud and ashes. In Wairoa eleven persons—Maoris and whites—perished. During a recent visit to the village our guide showed us the ruins of several houses, where some of the inmates were killed.

“At the outbreak of the explosion a Maori woman took shelter in her ‘whare’ (native hut). The volcanic mud fell steadily on the roof, until the strain became so great that it began to give way. The mother’s heart was filled with sorrow and anguish at the prospect of losing her darlings. Doubtless she did her utmost to save them. Taking her children in her arms, she knelt down upon her hands and knees, while lower and lower sank the roof, until it rested on her back, and thus next day the relief party found them, the children living, but the mother, whose back had borne for so many hours the awful strain, dead.”

A mother’s love is proverbial. Nothing in this world is so strong, so pure and so constant. There is every reason why it should be so. The child is part of herself. She has reared it from infancy, nursed it, fondled it on her knee, cared for it night and day—no wonder a mother’s love is as nothing else in this world.

But even this love, wonderful as it is, is as the lighted taper compared with the sun in its meridian splendour, when we think of God’s love to sinners.

“GOD COMMENDETH HIS LOVE toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

In the chapter from which this verse is taken we have a four-fold description of those to whom God thus commends His love:

(1) “Without strength,”
(2) “Ungodly,”
(3) “Sinners,”
(4) “Enemies.”

Does this description suit you? If so, Christ died for you.

(1) “WITHOUT STRENGTH.” It is a fact that we have no strength, though it is not all who will acknowledge the extent of the ruinous depths into which sin has plunged us. Let us apply a test. What can you do towards your own salvation? Nothing. Your religious observances, your efforts to live rightly, your discharge of your family and social duties—all will not avail to remove one single sin or bring you one hair’s-breadth nearer God. You are “without strength.” Own it, for until you do you will never be ready to accept God’s salvation.

(2) “UNGODLY.” Many have a mistaken notion as to the meaning of this word. They imagine a man must be outwardly depraved and vile to be ungodly, and that decent religious people cannot be so described. “Ungodly” describes the condition of every unconverted man or woman, however blameless his or her outward life may be. Saul of Tarsus, the chief of Pharisees, was the chief of sinners. With all his zeal for God’s service he was godless. When Adam and Eve fell they became ungodly, they lost God. An impassable barrier, so far as they were concerned, was raised between them and a holy God by their sin. That is why God went in search of His fallen creatures, crying, “Adam, where art thou?” “Ungodly,” then, is the character of every unsaved man and woman, boy and girl in the land.

(3) “SINNERS.” Here we are on ground that none will dispute. There are great sinners and little sinners, as men talk, but all are sinners. If only we knew that one sin in God’s holy sight is infinitely worse than ten thousand in ours, we would not draw such distinctions. God says, “There is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:22-23). One apple upon a tree proves it to be an apple tree, just as much as if it were laden to the ground with fruit. “The soul that sinneth it shall die” is awfully solemn reading, especially when we know that “after this [death] the judgment.”

(4) “ENEMIES.” This likewise is true of every unconverted soul. The Lord drew the line when He said, “He that is not with Me is against Me” (Matt. 12:30); whilst James 4:4 corroborates this in the memorable words, “The friendship of the world is enmity with God.” The unconverted man loves the world’s friendship and is therefore God’s enemy.

What commendation of love is this that when we were in such a helpless, hopeless condition Christ should die for us. God’s well-beloved Son to die for God’s enemies! To die, to atone for our ungodliness, our sins, our enmity, and thus to turn all such into an occasion of displaying His love to us is indeed sufficient to win our hearts. God’s love was displayed at Calvary, at the same time bringing out to the full His righteousness, His holiness and all that He is in Himself.

To appropriate this love you must accept Christ as your Saviour, you must come as a strengthless, ungodly, sinful enemy, give up all thoughts of saving yourself, and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in full simple trust. Thus, and thus only can you receive the blessing God has for you, for it is “THROUGH THIS MAN is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and BY HIM all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:38-39). Christ alone is the One, through whom the blessing of the gospel can be received. With Him, you have all; without Him, you have nothing.

Gospel Tidings Annual 1905, p. 89