FAITH & REFLECTION — Mark’s gospel indicates that Jesus endured six tormented hours of crucifixion, from approximately 9 a.m. until His death at 3 p.m. Matthew, Luke and John collectively report seven statements that Jesus made from the cross during that time.
In the first statement, Jesus asked God to forgive those responsible for His crucifixion (Luke 23:34). His second communication boldly promised a repentant criminal immediate and certain entrance into His kingdom upon death (Luke 23:42,43). The third statement says, “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 nearby, he said to her, “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).
Jesus referred to His mother as “woman”. It would be inadvisable to address mothers that way in our culture, but the word did not denote any rudeness or disrespect in Jesus’ time. Quite the contrary…the entire account shows Jesus’ deep respect and compassion for Mary, as He took formal steps to ensure that she would be well cared for following His death.
Where is Joseph? Clearly, he must have already passed away. The Scripture describes him as a just man. If he were still alive, Jesus would not have to rely on John to look after His mother.
How difficult this must have been for Mary! Life’s greatest tragedy…to outlive a child. She was probably reminiscing upon the birth of her son. She would remember the angelic visit and the promise of God. Simeon’s prophetic utterance of “a sword will pierce your own soul” (Luke 2:35) became a painful and present reality as the figurative “sword” plunged deep into her grieving heart. Already widowed, and now her firstborn is dying…publicly, shamefully; the death of a criminal.
Jesus, in spite of His own intense suffering, showed tender regard for His grieving mother and her future needs. As the oldest son, the care of the mother was His sole responsibility. He could have given the responsibility to one of his younger half-brothers, but He selected John. Why not? As we read through the Gospels, we see that John loved Jesus and Jesus loved him.
It was a great plan…personalized provision for Mary and a privileged position for John! And it worked because church history, concurrent with John 19:27, points out that Mary remained under John’s care until her death.
In John 3:23 John trusted in and leaned against Jesus. Now, Jesus trusted John and leaned on him. John came through for Him. I am compelled to ask the question…do we?