Summary: Four women loved Jesus so much that they were willing to risk their own lives to be near Him as He hung there upon the cross. (Powerpoints available - #208)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #208.)
A. As you know, today is celebrated throughout the Christian world as "Palm Sunday" in remembrance of that day nearly 2,000 years ago when Jesus made what is called His "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem.
(PowerPoint of the crowd welcoming Jesus.)
So enthusiastic were the people in welcoming Him that crowds lined the streets, throwing flowers, & spreading their cloaks on the road as a carpet for Him. And following the traditional method of welcoming kings, they cut palm branches & waved them in the air before Him.
In the face of such a wild & tumultuous event, the Pharisees who had been plotting against Jesus cried out in despair, "Look how the whole world has gone after Him!" (John 12:19)
B. But you know how quickly everything changed. In just a few days the shouts of "Hosanna!" turned into "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" And crucify Him they did.
Crucifixion was a slow & horrible way to die. By Roman law it was reserved for only the worst of criminals, those whose death could serve as an example to the people of the uselessness of defying Roman might.
Most of the time, as we talk about the cross, we picture the dreadfulness of that scene. We speak of the nails being driven into His hands & feet. We see Him hanging there, suspended between heaven & earth, as the crowd passes by laughing & mocking Him.
"Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God! In the same way the chief priests... mocked him, 'He saved others, but he can't save himself... Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.'" (Matthew 27:40-42)
But as Jesus hung on the cross, He was not absolutely alone. We are told in the gospels that 4 women were there with Him. In John 19:25 the apostle John says, "Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, & Mary of Magdala."
C. Now I realize that some try to explain their presence by saying that in those days women were so unimportant that no one took any notice of them, & therefore these women were running no risk at all by being near the cross of Jesus.
But I think that is a pitiful explanation. It was always a dangerous thing to be associated with a man whom the Roman government declared to be so dangerous a criminal that he deserved crucifixion.
No, the presence of these women was not because they were so unimportant that no one would notice them. Instead, I'm convinced they were there because they loved Jesus so much that they were willing to risk their own lives to be near Him as He hung upon that cross.
They were bewildered, heart-broken, drenched in sorrow – but they were there. They were there because they loved Jesus, & for them, as for so many, perfect love had cast out all fear.
D. There is a beautiful old hymn that we often sing with deep feeling & reverence entitled, "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross."
But I wonder, if you & I had been there, would we have wanted to be near the cross? Would we have dared to climb that hill & stand by Him as He died?
Or would we have been where most of the disciples were, hiding, fearful that we, too, might be arrested & crucified along with Him?
Well, besides the apostle John, 4 women were there, & they are a very diverse group. There is one, "Mary the wife of Clopas" of whom we know nothing. But we do know something about the others. So let's look at them & learn of their love for Jesus.
I. MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS
A. First of all, there was Mary, the mother of Jesus. We know her story well. We know the angel appeared unto her & told her that she would be the mother of God's Son, the promised Messiah.
We know of His miraculous birth & of the amazing events that accompanied it as God protected & provided for His Son. And we are told that Mary "treasured all these things in her heart." (Luke 2:51)
Oh, how long she must have looked forward to the day when her son would proclaim Himself to be the long awaited Messiah, the Savior of Israel, & then usher in the great & wonderful "Day of the Lord" that all Israelites longed for.
Then everything she had gone through the gossip in Nazareth, the flight into Egypt, the years of hardship after Joseph was gone, even the loneliness of Jesus leaving home to proclaim His message throughout Israel. One day it would be worth it all when Jesus became the divine "King of the Jews."