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A Mother's Broken Heart: Lessons from Jesus' Words to Mary from the Cross

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Sermon shared by Jonathan Mcleod

May 2008
Summary: Jesus’ words to Mary from the cross speak to our relationships with our parents and also our spiritual family.
Denomination: Baptist
Audience: General adults
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Sermon:
Mary proudly holds her newborn baby boy as she and her husband enter the temple court. Only forty days ago she gave birth to her firstborn Son. Today they have made the short trip from Bethlehem to dedicate her firstborn son to the Lord. As they make their way through the crowd, an elderly man spots them. His name is Simeon. God has revealed to him that he will not die until he sees the Messiah. Now that day has come.

To Mary’s surprise, Simeon takes her baby in his arms and praises God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

The old man’s words amaze Mary and Joseph. But Simeon is not finished. He looks at the boy’s mother and says, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.”

Then Simeon says something Mary never forgot. “And a sword will pierce your very heart.” (See Luke 2:21-35.)

Fast forward 33 years.

Now Mary understands Simeon’s prophecy. The little baby that she had once held in her arms is now hanging on a Roman cross. And her heart is pierced.

The sign above His head reads, “This is Jesus of Nazareth.” But Mary weeps as she thinks, “This is my Son.”

She remembers kissing her boy’s brow as she put Him to bed. Now that brow is marred by a crown of thorns. She remembers guiding his tiny hands and feet as He learned to walk. Now those hands and feet are nailed to a cross. She remembers rubbing His back to consol her crying Son. Now that back is bloodied and beaten.

As Mary surveys the heartbreaking scene, her mind goes back to a happier visit to Jerusalem. It was 22 years ago. Jesus was twelve. It was his first time Mary and Joseph had taken Jesus on their pilgrimmage from Nazareth to observe the Passover. She recalls how excited her Son was to see the temple. But most of all, she remembers the journey home. Jesus was missing. In a panic, she and Joseph rushed back to Jerusalem. They finally found Him in the temple. “Son,” Mary scolded Him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

Jesus replied, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Mary didn’t understand what He meant. But as the years passed by, she began to realize that His life would be shaped by His Father’s will, not His mother’s dreams. (See Luke 2:41-50.)

Now as Mary stands beside her Son’s cross, she understands that Jesus is finishing the final piece of His Father’s business. But still, her heart is pierced.

She had experienced the sorrow of losing Him for just three days. Now she is losing Him to death.

John 19:23-27

23When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,

“They divided my garments
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