4 Views from the Cross – His Family Views His Death
John 19:25-27 (p. 756) March 13, 2016
There’s an old hymn that says, “Jesus keep me near the cross. There a precious fountain, free to all a healing stream, flows from Calvary’s mountain...in the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever. ‘Till my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river.”
But I wonder, on the day Jesus died how near to that cross would we have really wanted to be?
Crucifixion was a slow and horrible way to die. The Romans reserved it for those whom they wanted to make examples of...“Mess with us...and this is where you’ll end up.”
There is a series of events that have happened before we arrive at our text the Sunday before Jesus has ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey...crowds have celebrated His entrance by throwing down palm branches and shouting “Hosanna.” It’s a Jewish expression of adoration praise and joy (Literally “Save us we pray”).
It caused the conspiracy of the Pharisees to kill Him to go into high gear...John 12:19 records their reaction to the crowds...“Look how the whole world has gone after Him.” Later that week there would be an arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus’ disciples would scatter in fear for their lives...Jesus would be put on trial before the Sanhedrin...but because “Capital Punishment” could only be granted by the Roman government, He would be sent to Pilate...then Herod...then back to Pilate.
Finally Pilate would relent to the crowd that had been yelling “Hosanna” a few days ago but was now yelling “crucify him.” Washing his hands Pilate hands Jesus over...where He’s mocked, beaten and humiliated. He then carries his cross down the Via Dela Rosa (the way of sorrows) to Golgotha. He is then nailed to His cross...hoisted into place.
The Pharisees have followed...and near the cross they spur the crowd on by yelling “If you are the Christ come down from the cross and save yourself, then we will believe you. He saved others but cannot save Himself.”
But as Jesus hangs there He is not just surrounded by hatred...His family is there, His mother Mary, John the Apostle and 3 others.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas and Mary Magdalene.” (John 19:25)
What we powerfully encounter here is
I. A FAMILY AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS
By most accurate accounts when Jesus is dying He is surrounded by His mother, His aunt, and His first cousin John...and Mary Magdalene.
Jesus had cast out 7 demons from her soul...she could never forget what Jesus had done to change her life...she had been rescued by the Messiah.
There they stood...Near the cross, watching their son, their nephew, their best friend die...and they couldn’t change the situation...It’s hard to imagine a more heartbreaking scene...they look up...and He looks down.
Max Lucado asks this powerful question:
Have you ever wondered what Mary was thinking as she saw her little boy, her first born, hanging from the cross. People were yelling, screaming, insulting, spitting and throwing rocks. She must have wanted to comfort her boy — but she couldn’t, there was no comforting, there were screams of pain, agony, blood dripping down His naked, battered body. He was thirsty, but there was no satisfying His thirst. The same body she diapered, the same person she watched grow from a helpless infant. . . was being
crucified. Mary was broken hearted. She would remember what the prophet Simeon said, when Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus into the temple to have Him dedicated, he predicted ‘a sword would pierce her own soul.’
The cross was that sword, and her soul was being pierced.
There is no mention of Joseph...most scholars believe Joseph died sometime after Jesus visited the temple when He was 12 and now...Jesus the firstborn would have been her provider and protector. She has buried her husband, leaving her a widow...now she would bury her 1st born son.
And then from the cross Jesus speaks...He’s said several things...He’s loved a dying thief into paradise...but the words He speaks to His mother and to John are the most intimate and personal.
“John, I give you the responsibility of looking after my mom like a son...Mom, John will protect and provide for you from now on.”
By the way do you think it’s a coincidence that John is the only disciple that isn’t martyred? He lives to be an old man...He’s exiled, but that’s long after Mary’s death.
Jesus hasn’t forgotten His earthly responsibilities, even while being crucified...but He is fulfilling an even more important responsibility...“His Father’s eternal business.”
Mary, John, and His family needed a Savior, even more than they needed a son, nephew, cousin and friend.
They didn’t know it yet but
II. FRIDAY’S HEARTBREAK WOULD BECOME SUNDAY’S VICTORY
John, this disciple whom Jesus loved stands next to Mary and the other women and hears Jesus say, “It is finished.” And he watches as “Jesus gives up His spirit.” He watches as life leaves Jesus’ body.
This man who had been their leader, this man who had been their healer and rescuer...this man who had performed miracles...including raising the dead...dies.
And John tells us in chapter 20 verse 9 “They still did not understand from scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.”
[I’ve held my mother and family as the spirit of life left my father...I’ve comforted my best friend’s wife and children as he died...I’ve been with dozens of families who watch the line go straight on the monitor.
It’s hard...it’s emotional to say “goodbye” to someone we love with all our hearts...It’s what the word grief describes.
But looking up at the beaten and torn body of that loved one taking His last breath on a Roman cross must be doubly crushing.
The words “It is finished” meant something entirely different at the cross to John, Mary, and the others than it did to Jesus.]
[Years earlier, Mary had pulled splinters out of her little boy’s fingers...now she would help remove them from His lifeless body for burial.
Years earlier John had turned his back on his career to follow Jesus of Nazareth and just a few days earlier he had participate in a celebratory “Hosanna” entrance into the city with Jesus...These people were celebrating a King’s arrival 6 days before...Now his lifeless body hung under a sign which announced in 3 languages “King of the Jews.”
He’d followed Jesus as the Messiah and now he was gone...only a lifeless body was left.
This is what John thought “It is finished” meant...It’s over...my dreams...my hopes...finished.
And yet that is not at all what Jesus meant.
As I’ve shared with you the word for “It is finished” is tetelistai...the literal translation is “paid in full.”
Jesus gave up His spirit...no one took it...thousands and thousands of angels were at his disposal if He chose to speak the word.
The penalty for all sin is death...so, for Jesus “It is finished” meant this sacrifice. My obedience even here on the cross...my death as the perfect atoning sacrificial Lamb...pays for all sin...in full.
2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
More painful than the scourge, nails and thorns was this truth for Jesus...as He becomes our sin on the cross...God turns away because He cannot look upon His Son...and Jesus cries out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”
Peter, the Apostle would write
1 PETER 2:22-24 (p. 851)
On Friday Peter and the others are still hiding. John, Mary, Mary Magdalene are still together...they haven’t left...why are they still there...they’re not expecting a resurrection.
Perhaps it’s as simple as “grieving together.” John is taking care of Jesus’ mom. Maybe they just didn’t have the emotional energy to go anywhere else...or all the above.
Maybe you are here today...It’s Friday in your life...it’s dark...there doesn’t seem to be any reason to stay...you don’t understand but you won’t leave Jesus...why?
(E.V. HILL’S VIDEO “IT’S FRIDAY”) 3:39
Folks it wasn’t finished on Friday...and because they united...because they stayed...His family were around to see the miracle of Sunday.
It’s not finished until Jesus says IT’S FINISHED.