Summary: Third in a series of preaching from the seven sayings of Jesus from the Cross
The Third Saying From The Cross:
Woman, Behold thy Son”
First Preached at Broad Run Baptist Church 3/16/2003
Scripture: John 19:25-27 (NIV)
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
All but one of His fervent disciples have abandoned Him as the light of day begins to give way to unexpected darkness. Here in the midst of the mocking soldiers, the sneering leaders, the jeering crowd, the insulting thief, and the indifferent masses—both Jew and Gentile, we find in stark contrast, women at the cross whose love, loyalty and devotion bring them there as He enters into His darkest hours being bound to the cross for friend and foe alike. These women who cared and supported Jesus in life would not desert Him in the hours leading up to His death. While four are mentioned by name, many other women had accompanied Him from Galilee were in Jerusalem because of the feast of the Passover were also there at Calvary (John 15:41).
As Mary thought about her Son’s impending death, the prophecy of Simeon made at her Son’s birth now came true, “A sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35). How true that prophecy came to be!
Seeing her sorrow, Jesus honors His mother by placing her into the care of John, the beloved disciple. Jesus’ brothers and sisters being in Galilee were not in a position to care for or comfort her as she morns the passing of her first born. The words of Jesus to Mary and John were His third saying from the cross (the first one recorded by John). In the other Gospels, Jesus had already prayed that His executioners would be forgiven (Luke 23:24) and issued a pardon to the penitent thief (Luke 23:42-43).
Even as Jesus suffers, His thoughts are on the needs of others. Even as He gives His life as a ransom for many, He still has time to think about the needs of one—His mother. How true this is even today: that as He sits at the Father’s right hand making intercession for us all, He does so bringing us before the Father one person at a time.
As we look at this picture, let us look to the Scriptures to understand what it was that brought these women to the cross that fateful Friday before the Passover.
I. The Women:
A. Mary, the wife of Clopas.
Very little is known about this person other than her name, the name of her husband, and the names of two of her children which Mark 15:41 supplies: James the younger and Joses.
Clopas is believed to be the father of the Apostle James the Younger. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) states that tradition attributes him to be the brother of Jesus’ earthly father Joseph, the husband of Mary. This apostle was the second James mentioned in the list of apostles and was not the brother of John whose father’s name was Zebedee. This James is identified with James, the son of Alphaeus’ and is based on the assumption that Clopas and Alphaeus are renderings of the same Hebrew word-pronounced differently.
Mary and Clopas it seems were Jesus’ aunt and uncle from Joseph’s side of the family. While we cannot be 100% certain of this, the likelihood of this is strong.
Why was she at the cross? To stand for those who could not be there—standing there as a representative of Joseph’s family.
B. Jesus’ Aunt—the Sister of Mary.
Though not mentioned here, a comparison with Mark 15:40 suggests that the aunt of Jesus mentioned here was Salome, the mother of the Apostles James and John and the wife of Zebedee.
The ISBE mentions that The New Testament records her as one of the women who companied with Jesus in Galilee, and ministered to Him (Mark 15:40,41). She was present at the crucifixion (Mark 15:40), and was among those who came to the tomb of Jesus on the resurrection morning (Mark 16:1,2). Comparison with Matthew 27:56 clearly identifies her with the wife of Zebedee. It is she, therefore, whose ambitious request for her sons James and John is recorded in Matthew 20:20-24; Mark 10:35-40. From John 19:25 many infer that she was a sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Why was she at the cross? To stand along side those in trouble in need of comfort and consolation (Mary).
C. Mary Magdalene.
This Mary is associated with the town of Magdala. This woman has often been associated with the prostitute of Luke chapter 7 but the Scriptures never mention the name of this person. Mary Magdalene was demon possessed and Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Mark 16:9). Jesus did not cast out demons from the woman in Luke 7 nor is Mary Magdalene mentioned as the one who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. The two are not the same. What we do know of Mary is that she was indebted to Jesus because He healed her spirit. So too ought we to be. Demon possession is a fact, not fiction. Jesus put this poor tormented soul back together. He can do the same for us today if we but submit to His authority and give Him the permission to heal us.