Summary: Looks at Jesus' words, “Woman, Behold Your Son”
“Woman, Behold Your Son”
John 19: 25-27
Jesus uttered seven sayings on the cross, three of them before darkness, one of them during darkness and one after darkness had completely fallen. Today’s saying occurs before the darkness has fallen. The first utterance, “Father, forgive them…” was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry: he came to forgive people. The second, “Today, you shall be with me in paradise” was the goal of Jesus’ ministry to unite people with their Creator and Savior eternally. Today’s Scripture parts from what Jesus has been doing and saying on the cross as he turns personal. We see four things in our Scripture today.
First is a mother’s pain. Jesus lifts his head, looks out and sees his Mother Mary and the disciple he loves. One can only imagine the sense of grief Mary must have been feeling as she stood before Jesus and watched him hang on the cross. We all know how mothers feel about their children especially her oldest son. She must have had a special feeling for him because of the promise of the angel of the Lord. Like any mother, she hopes and dreams for that child, but hers were fueled by the angel’s promise and his identity as Messiah. Certainly the cross didn’t figure in those hopes and dreams. I have no doubt that as she saw him dying on the cross, she thought back to his birth and the words of the angel. The Scriptures tell us that Mary meditated on what the angel said. I believe that wasn’t a one time thing but something she did throughout her life. Her son, her firstborn is son of the Most High, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That’s certainly something to ponder! She must have had great dreams and hopes that he would not only do great things but become a great King.
All of Mary’s hopes and dreams must have been destroyed as she saw Jesus slowing dying and suffocating on the cross. There must have been great disappointment. Remember when Simeon blessed Jesus in the temple and all of the talk which ensued? In fact, Joseph and Mary were amazed at all the things which were being said about him. Along with Jesus, all of her hopes and dreams for him and for the Messiah who would save her and her people were dying on that cross. Where is his greatness, where is his kingdom? He’s not even dying a hero’s death. It would have been something if Jesus has led the Israelites to rise up against the Roman Empire and he died on the battlefield. That would have been an honorable death. But instead, he is dying a common criminal’s death of shame, humiliation and suffering.
What a sense of helplessness she must have felt. Every mother cares for their child when they fall and get hurt. They kiss the pain away, wipe away the blood and hold the child until the tears dissipate. As she sees Jesus hanging on the cross with blood dripping down his forehead and back, her heart goes out to him but she can do absolutely nothing. How many times has she instinctively run to Jesus side and been there for him when he needed her as a child. And now she stands there helpless to stop the taunting or alleviate his pain. Her heart must have broken in that moment. In Fox’s Book of Martyrs, there is the story of a 26 year old mother named Perpetua. The early church was growing dramatically and she came to faith in Jesus. The Roman government was trying to get her to renounce her faith but she refused. They threw her in prison. He father came and begged her to pay homage to the Romans so she could be freed and care for him as he was elderly. They drug her father away and killed him. They brought her son to her and she held him in her arms but they took him away and killed him as well. She died, of a broken heart. Every mother can understand that. It’s almost unbearable. As Mary looked up on Jesus hanging on the cross, her heart must have broken too.
Second is a son’s responsibility. As the oldest son, it was Jesus’ responsibility to provide for his family when his father died. Couple this with the fact that women couldn’t work or inherit her husband’s resources and it fell to the oldest son to provide for his mother. With this responsibility on his heart, Jesus looks out and sees his mother from the cross and diverges from his mission of forgiveness and salvation by providing for her on going care. Jesus is demonstrating for us the priority of family and our responsibility to them and for them.