Summary: today we want to focus our attention on John. His face beneath the cross is the face of faithfulness. A study of John’s presence at the cross will help us in the pursuit of faithfulness.
Title: The Face of Faithfulness: John
Text: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John19:25-27).
Scripture Reading: John 19:17-27
Christianity began with a group of men gathered by Jesus, but at the cross Christianity resembles a woman’s movement. Of the twelve men Jesus made apostles, only one was faithful to the end. Four faithful women stood with this man until the end. One of them was Mary, Jesus’ mother. Her sister was also there. Mary Magdalene was another of the four, and with her was the wife of Cleophas. But today we want to focus our attention on John. His face beneath the cross is the face of faithfulness. A study of John’s presence at the cross will help us in the pursuit of faithfulness.
Let’s begin out study by reading our text: John 19:25-27.
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”
There are three things to see about John’s faithfulness:
1. The extent of his faithfulness.
2. The inspiration for his faithfulness.
3. The reward for his faithfulness.
When we have finished looking at John’s example of faithfulness, we will see that our faithfulness should be unto death. We will be faithful because of His love for us, and we will be rewarded for our faithfulness.
Let’s begin by looking at the extent of John’s faithfulness.
Years after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, John wrote a letter inspired by the risen Lord to the church in Smyrna. In the letter the Lord encouraged that suffering church. He said, “Be thou faithful unto death.” The members of this church were experiencing persecution, and John’s letter encouraged them.
Note that being “faithful unto death” meant more than just as long as they lived, it meant that they should be faithful even if it cost them their lives.
In the Old Testament, saints were delivered from death, but in the New Testament they triumph over death. Our hope is in the Lord.
The letter to the church at Smyrna also mentioned a crown that would be given to those who suffer; the crown of life. There were many faithful souls in Smyrna who were martyred. They will receive that eternal crown. I know many wonderful saints who are going to get that crown someday. My friends, if you are suffering at this moment and you have wondered if He cares, He has something good for you in eternity. You will get something that no one else will get, except others who are in your condition. God’s word says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him.” That crown of life means that you are really going to live it up someday.
John would know about this kind of faithfulness. This is the kind of faithfulness each of us needs. We need to be faithful until death and we need to be faithful unto death. But what does it mean to be faithful until death? The words could be understood to mean, “Be faithful for all of your life.” It was a call for faithfulness regardless of what life might bring. John had this kind of faithfulness. It is the kind that a couple promises to each other in their wedding ceremony: “until death do us part.” It is interesting to ask a couple as they approach marriage, “Under what circumstances will you seek a divorce?” Their answers are always revealing. Some confidently reply, “Under no circumstances.” I like that response, but I know they will be surprised by the difficulties that will test their commitment to faithfulness.
The cross did not force John away from his commitment to Jesus. He intended to be faithful until the end of his life. Scholars debate the extent of the danger facing John, but we can plainly see that the other apostles perceived danger at the cross. Anyone who has seen an angry mob knows that with a mob on the loose no one is safe. Jesus was on the cross because of such mob movements. The danger to John must have been real. Yet he was ready to face even the possibility of death because of his desire to be faithful to the Lord. Even if it cost him his life, he would not run away. This is the quality of faithfulness that the Lord wants in each of us. If our faithfulness has limitations, it is flawed.