Behold Your Son

Though most of the men who followed Jesus deserted him at the cross, his female followers remained to observe his death. All four gospels mention this striking fact (Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 23:49; John 19:25) despite the fact that this would have been seen as discrediting Jesus and his mission as being "only for women." Some things never change!

Only John specifies that Mary, Jesus’ mother was among the women who remained near him until the end. Perhaps this is because he is the “disciple whom Jesus loved” who appears time and again in this gospel account, including at the cross. He writes:
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

John 19:25-27 (ANIV)

There is a tendency within Protestantism in general and evangelicalism in particular to put a safe distance between Jesus and his mother Mary, in reaction to the extreme veneration of Mary that you often find in Catholicism. Yet the presence of Mary at the cross adds both humanity and horror to the scene. We are reminded that Jesus was a real human being, a man who had once been a foetus in the womb of this woman; a man who had once been a helpless infact suckling at her breast; a man who had once been a toddler, taught to walk by her; a man who had once been a boy taught his Bible by her at the kitchen table. And one of the interesting thing is that while a later comment by Jesus suggests that he feels forsaken by his heavenly Father, his earthly Mother Mary was standing faithfully at the foot of the cross.
I can't imagine what Mary must have experienced as she watched her son being crucified. Time and time again when I have been ministering to mothers who have had to nurse their children through illness, some terminal, I’ve heard them say: “I’d give anything to change places with my child. No mother should ever have to see her child suffer like this.” Mary may well have thought similar things as she stood near the cross of Jesus.
Yet from the beginning she was promised that whilst all generations would call her blessed, it would be a mixed blessing, because in Luke 2 when Simeon praised God upon seeing the baby Jesus, he delivered a chilling prophecy to Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel . . . and a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34-35). It may not have been a sword, but I am sure she felt every nail, every thorn, and that final spear through his side.
But, again, we've been focusing on Jesus' words this week, and while this scene reminds us that Jesus was a real man, true flesh and blood, a son of a mother, dying with unbearable agony, in the midst of all that he thinks of his mother…

From beginning to end Christ’s life was selfless… Indeed that is why he was on the cross, but in the midst of his agony his attitude to his mother is the clearest example of that, and should be seen as the prototype of care within Christ’s family as a whole, where we are commended to:
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."

Galatians 6:2 (RSV)


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