Summary: Introductory Comments 1.
1. Today we again go back to Calvary. Again we see Jesus on the cross. And as we come near to Him, we see two groups of our four standing before the cross.
2. On the one hand we see four soldiers. The ones who had escorted Jesus to this place of crucifixion. One of the perqs or benefits of this duty was that they got to get the clothes of the victim. As every Jew, Jesus wore five articles of clothing - shoes, a turban, a girdle, a tunic, and an outer robe. And so each got one article and only the inner tunic, the undergarment was left. And rather than destroy it by cutting it into four pieces, they cast lots to see who would win it. How sad, here before them hung the Saviour of the world, the Son of God, the one who was offering them the riches of His kingdom. And they could see no further than a few articles of clothing to take home or sell. Their greed for that which was so unimportant, their indifference to the suffering of the one who hung before them. How sad?
3. Over to the other side stood four women. In contrast, to the soldiers, their eyes were not on the things of the world, they were not there to see what they could get. They were there because they loved their Lord and could not desert Him as so many others had done. It was dangerous, not a common thing to do. For Jesus had been labeled a criminal, a rebel, a heretic. To identify with Him also made you like Him. They too could have been arrested and crucified. And so there was a risk to come forward to be near Him in His time of agony, but they could not stay away for they loved Him, and trusted Him, even when all seemed hopeless.
4. Four women.
a. His mother, Mary, who had given birth to Him and who had nurtured Him. Does anyone suffer more than a mother when a child suffers or is lost?
b. His mother’s sister, Salome. As Matthew tells us, she was the wife of Zebedee, the mother of James and John. She was the one who had come to Jesus asking that her sons be given the chief places of honour in His kingdom. In response Jesus rebuked her, teaching her how wrong this ambitious attitude was. She had learned her lesson, and continued to love and follow her Lord.
c. There was Mary Magdela. All we know about her is that Jesus had cast out seven demons from her. She could never forget what Jesus had done for her, how His love had saved her.
d. And then was was Mary, the wife of Clopas, of whom we know nothing else but that she was there.
5. There they stood near the cross. Jesus saw them, and He saw His mother and near them, He saw the disciple whom He loved. All the other disciples had run away out of fear. But this disciple did not, He could not. He had a special relationship with Jesus. The love was mutual. The disciple, most scholars agree, was John. That is why John could write about this private moment by the cross.
1. Jesus, seeing these two who He loved so much, said to them "Dear woman, here is your son" and to John , "Here is your mother." These words are very personal and they may even seem unusual. But they teach us some very important things about Jesus and about ourselves
2. Here was Jesus. The brutality of the cross was unbearable. The pain of the stripes where He had been whipped. The thorns of His crown piercing into His head. The nails which had been driven into His hands and ankles. The death He would soon go through. Not to mention the weight of the sins of the world. And the sense of being forsaken by His Father.
3. You and I have never and will never experience the suffering that our Lord went through. But we have suffered to varying degrees. There is something I notice when I or others suffer. When I feel pain, it is hard to look beyond the pain. And it is hard to care for others when my own world is falling apart. When all is well, I try to be there for othjers, to reach out in love, but when my needs and suffering is great, they become a bother. "Leave me alone, I’ve got my own problems, can’t you see."
4. But Jesus, although His pain and needs are so overwhelming, still looks beyond Himself and sees the pain and the needs of others. He sees a mother who is about to loose her oldest son. He wants to make sure that she is taken care of and looked after. Normally His younger brothers would be given the this role, passed down from their oldest brother. But perhaps the problem was that they were not there. Or perhaps because as Jesus’ cousin, John was her closest male relative that was there. But probably because His brothers were not yet believers and Jesus wanted to entrust her to a believer. Jesus entrusted her to John.