This past week, seven of us leaders at church were asked to speak at our Good Friday service. Each of us was asked to teach about one of the seven things Jesus said while on the cross, as told in the book of John.
When posting about it on social media, several of you asked if I could put my portion on my blog...so here it is!!.
Of all the seven things Jesus spoke from the cross, this was the only statement He made that didn’t have to be said while on the cross.
This interaction between Himself, John, and his mother Mary didn’t necessarily need to be spoken at this particular time. If you read through the crucifixion story, you'll notice the other six statements were completely unique to the cross in being either a direct fulfillment of prophecy or was Jesus responding to a very unique situation.
Jesus could have taken John aside during their time in the Upper Room (the Last Supper), the night before. He could have put Mary’s hand in John’s after His resurrection, for Christ spent a good amount of time with them after raising from the dead.
But no. He did it while suffering an agonizing death upon the cross.
William Barclay writes,
John was one of His dearest friends. In fact, we see here in this verse that he is often referred to as the “Man or Disciple whom He loved”.
In Greek, this is word is written as agapao (pronounced agapah-o), which is the highest form of love: the love of God for man and man for God. This kind of love embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends, that serves regardless of circumstance.
Jesus trusted His sweet mother with this beloved friend. He knew she would be taken care of and loved until she breathed her last breath and joined Jesus in Heaven.
Why did Christ decide to put this adoption into place while He could hardly speak, hardly take a breath?
Why is it He decided to do this now?
Because once again He was thinking of others above Himself.
Parents, can you even wrap your mind around this being your child? Think for a moment, about the agony you would be going through seeing your baby nailed upon a cross. He had been beaten so badly, portions His flesh was gaping wide, His beard had been pulled out in various patches. He had a thorn of crowns pressed upon His head. These thorns were likely several inches long. He was being spat upon.
All this for an innocent man.
In Luke 2, we read of Mary and Joseph taking their tiny baby to Jerusalem to be dedicated. While fulfilling these sacred obligations, they encountered a man named Simeon. He was a man who deeply loved God. In fact, it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple that day. When seeing Jesus, he gathered Him up in his arms blessing Him, but also told Mary,
Listen, this child will make many in Israel rise and fall. He will be a significant person whom many will oppose. In the end, He will lay bare the secret thoughts of many hearts. And a sword will pierce even your own heart, Mary.
I wonder if she thought back on these words as she knelt, sobbing, at the foot of the cross. I wonder if she realized yes, these words indeed came true as her heart completely broke as if a sword pierced it and ripped it in half.
Jesus understood her grief.
He understood her pain.
For Mary to see such hatred and cruelty directed at her firstborn child and the God she loved, must have crushed her beyond anything she thought she could handle.
At exactly that time, Jesus turned His thoughts to her. He made provision for her, directing his beloved friend to take her under his arm and very likely suggesting that John escort her away.
In reading the latter moments of His crucifixion, several women were listed as being present, and yet his mother is not named. The verse says John took her into his household that very hour and it’s thought that this beloved friend may have led her back to his home and sheltered her from seeing those final moments.
What gentleness and love He had for his mother even in His suffering.
Today, it would be rude and disrespectful for someone to yell out “Woman!” But here and in their culture, it was simply a way of addressing a female.
Why did Jesus not call her “Mother”?
Why not say, “Mother, behold your son”?
It may have been for two reasons:
Jesus looking down at Mary from his place of torture and calling her by the affectionate word he’d used through His whole growing up, may just have been too much for her to bear. It may have broken her heart even further.
The second reason is that Mary needed to disengage from seeing Him as simply her son, but as the Messiah. She needed to begin looking at Him as her God, the Lord of her life. With this shift of focus, she could then begin concentrating on the redemptive meaning and significance of His death.
In pain and in death, Jesus cared for his mother. But not simply because she was His mother. She had a special relationship with Him, of course. Though earlier in His ministry (Matthew 12), someone inside the crowd mentioned to Jesus that His mother and brothers wanted to speak with Him. His response was that everyone is His family, for whoever loves God, enters into the family of Christ.
With that in mind, we need to recognize that as hearts are breaking, He cares just as deeply for each one of us.
If Jesus cared deeply about the anguish His mother experienced while seeing her son upon the cross, we should know that Christ also holds a profound concern for each of us and our pain, as well. We need to pour our hearts out to Him.
He will care for us. Off the cross, or on…He indeed cares about family, pain, and broken hearts.
P.S. I just bought the new She Reads Truth Bible (see photos in this post). I haven't delved too deeply into it yet, but it's GORGEOUS and has all sorts of amazing helps. I love that this verse is the first one I've underlined in it. xo