Summary: We have recorded for us seven of the sayings made by Jesus from the cross. This sermon seeks to describe what were are to gain/learn from Jesus providing for his mother.
John, in specifically selecting the events that lead to belief, preserves for us three of the recorded sayings that Jesus made while suffering the unthinkable, the unimaginable on the cross. The Synoptic writers record four others. We would be in error to portray that we know for certain that these seven were all that He said. We have no way of knowing if more words passed over a thirsty tongue and cracked lips only to be drowned in the din of hatred and sarcasm. But we do know that the Lion of Judah, through sheer will, mustered the strength to roar, if not in volume in at least importance, what these inspired men immortalized. And we know why as well. Jesus is dipping the brush of His creative power into the pallet of His perfect existence and upon the canvas of life’s pain paints the portrait of what all sons and daughters of the Most High must look like.
One that has quickly become my favorite is when the Son of God places His mother Mary into the care and custody of His cousin and disciple John. She and she alone had been with him from conception through incarceration and each line on her familiar face is telling its own story with each tear providing commentary. His mind races through the many scenes of pain and fear that has resided in her heart and soul from the moment the angel declares God’s intentions and a young, unwed Jewish girl becomes pregnant and all the talk and ridicule begins. To the agony of knowing that all the pain and suffering caused to those families whose young babies King Herod had put to death was because Herod has trying to kill her son. The words of the aged Simeon, that remained just below the surface of every thought and filtered every experience: that a sword would pierce her very soul. And now the events of the past twelve hours of watching her own flesh experience - Crucifixion. Because she is as much His mother as God is His father, she is His family and the greatest love of His human heart is for her. Oh, the struggles that must have occurred between His incarnate feelings and His divine logic. He could have relieved her present agony by abandoning the cross and fleeing the Skull, but her soul was worth the tears. Instead of laying aside her grief momentarily, all the while condemning her soul, Jesus insures her entire wellbeing as John will take care of the present while Jesus himself takes care of the eternal and thus fulfills not only the law of social responsibility and the obligation of grateful son for the life she had given him but also the just demands of a Holy, Life-giving God. He found great joy in knowing that refraining from addressing her present sorrow, He could insure her eternal joy in the presence of her son and His Father.
For John this event is an issue of belief, and if we indeed believe, then the gentleness and concern expressed in the midst of His pain, His misery, His anguish must…..must soften the heart and touch the core of our existence. We must be moved deeply by His compassion and even more transformed by His gesture.
Of all of the meaningful lessons that can be gleaned from this image, for my life, one unavoidable lesson has declared itself supreme. I believe that this was recorded because the Savior, our Savior wanted to stress a very practical and poignant point with His people, His family. That there is NEVER, NO NEVER an excuse for not loving and taking care of each other to and with the fullest extent and expression of the love we have graciously received from God. There can never be a reason for us not to respond with the same compassionate gesture in spite of surroundings and circumstances.
If the sinless Lamb of God could extend forgiveness to the very mob who lied and deserted and flogged and beaten and spit and crucified him by asking that His Father not allow these Satan blinded ones to be hindered from coming into the presence of God, can we, who are NOT sinless or guiltless, do any less? If the guiltless one graciously extended pardon to a guilty, undeserving criminal can we, equally guilty and undeserving not show gracious pardon to at least our family? And yet it is so often we who beat with our actions, who flog with our words or equally damage by withholding them, who crucify spirits and dreams and hopes of others simply because someone else did it to us. Jesus in this gentle, tender expression screams that the only time we can allow our “having a bad day” to keep us from treating our families, physical and spiritual, like he treated His family is when our “bad day” exceeds the “bad day” he is experiencing. And the likelihood of that ever occurring is ZERO because the very reason Jesus is suspended not just between Heaven and earth but Heaven and Hell is so that you and I will never experience anything close to what was administered to him. If Jesus can choose to focus on Mary’s well being in the midst of the torment inflicted upon him, brothers and sisters so can we. So must we.