Summary: What was it like to stand near the cross of Jesus? We examine four people who stood near the cross and try to understand what it would have meant for them.
“Near The Cross”
When Jesus was crucified I wonder how near the cross we would have stood? We sing that grand old hymn – “Jesus, keep me near the cross…there a precious fountain”, but how near the cross would we have been if we were there to witness Jesus’ crucifixion?
In today’s reading there were some people who stood near the cross.
1) Four Roman soldiers – they were there out of duty.
2) Four women and the apostle John – they were there because they loved Jesus:
a) Mary, the mother of Jesus
b) Salome (His mother’s sister)
c) Mary Magdalene
d) John, the beloved disciple
(NB: Most commentators are divided as to the identity of Mary, the wife of Cleopas. Any attempt to identify her with any exactitude is mere conjecture. For this reason I have left her out of my sermon outline. I like the possibility of her being identified with Mary the mother of James the less and Jose (Mark 15:40) but again there is no proof.)
We pray and sing “Keep me near the cross”, but what does it really mean to be near the cross when Jesus was crucified? I am not talking about a literal physical presence, but I am referring to a spiritual position. I am talking about a special relationship to Jesus Christ. This morning we are going to consider these four people who stood near the cross, when Jesus was crucified, and try to understand what it meant to them to be near the cross.
1)Mary Magdalene - A Place of Redemption
Luke 8:2 tells us that Mary Magdalene was a woman whom Jesus had cast out seven demons. She had been in bondage to Satan for a long time. These seven demons made her do terrible things. Satan was at work in her life to destroy, cause havoc, wreck her physically, emotionally and spiritually. Mary was in a hopeless and helpless situation.
Then Jesus came along and cast out these seven demons. Jesus delivered Mary from her bondage and set her free. Mary Magdalene was miraculously saved from her dilemma. Mary Magdalene was redeemed and bought back from the bondage she was in. She was ultimately delivered through a miraculous encounter with Jesus.
When we talk about the deliverance that Jesus can provided for Mary Magdalene I often think of a verse in Acts 26:18, which reads,
“To open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to the power of God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins…”
When a person trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ for deliverance from the bondage of sin, these same marvelous changes take place in their life. They go from darkness to light (mental, moral, spiritual). They go from the power of Satan to the power of God (God begins to take control). They go from being guilt to experiencing forgiveness. They go from being spiritually impoverished to becoming spiritually wealthy (becoming heirs of the Kingdom).
This is what Jesus did for Mary Magdalene. He redeemed her and bought her out of her miserable condition.
But, redemption is a costly thing. When Jesus delivered Mary Magdalene it cost Him something. Standing there at the cross Mary saw the price being paid. Jesus had to die that we might be redeemed and bought back from bondage. Yes, redemption is a costly thing:
(a) For me to move out of darkness into light, Jesus had to move from the light of heaven into a darkened world.
(b) For me to be delivered from the power of Satan to the power of God, Jesus Christ had to be forsaken by God.
(c) For me to be delivered from guilt to forgiveness, Jesus had to be made sin for us.
(d) For Jesus to make me rich with blessings, He had to become the poorest of poor.
Yes, redemption is a costly thing. It is no wonder Mary Magdalene was standing there at the cross. It is no wonder that Mary Magdalene was there at His burial. It is no wonder that Mary Magdalene was there at His resurrection. Mary Magdalene had experienced redemption and she stood near the cross because it was a place of redemption.
2)Salome - A Place of Rebuke
Who was Salome? Most commentators identify “his mother’s sister” as Salome, the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John (Matt.20:20-23). As the mother of James and John she was the one who once asked Jesus a very selfish request, “Can my two sons have places of honour in glory?” In other words she wanted something for her two sons. She wanted one of them to sit at the right hand of Jesus’ throne and the other to sit on the left hand of Jesus’ throne. What she asked of Jesus was a very selfish request. She wanted the best for her two sons.