The Savior and His Mother at the Cross

Based on John 19:17-35.

As I type those words, my heart wrenches for Mary, the mother of Jesus. I can’t imagine her absolute grief as she watched Him die in such agony. When my son died, he was in a hospital where the doctors and nurses did everything they could for him. They were compassionate and concerned. Even so, my sorrow was great.

Now I try to put myself in Mary’s place. The situation was just the opposite of mine. The Roman soldiers deliberately tortured Jesus as they put Him to death. I won’t get into all the suffering He went through, all the physical details of crucifixion. Suffice it to say, it is a slow, painful death. And Mary is watching.

The soldiers showed no concern—they were just following orders. Execute the man who calls Himself the king of the Jews. And do it in a way that was not quick or easy. They even gambled for his clothes while the Son of God hangs near-naked on a cross.

And His mother is there.

Other women were with her, including Mary Magdalene, and John his beloved disciple stands with them. We’re not sure how long Mary stays at the cross, but when Jesus sees her and the disciple whom He loves, He declares the tender, practical words, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” I think of the strength it must have taken to say those few words and wonder if he wanted to say anything else. “I love you, Mom,” or “You’ve been a great mother,” or perhaps “Thank you for all you did for me growing up.”  But His strength was done.

Is this the moment that the steel pierced her heart—the sword that Simeon predicted when Jesus first came to the Temple as a baby (Luke 2:34-35)?

While Mary’s eyes are blurred with tears and Roman soldiers taunt and torture our Savior, He takes the time to show a son’s love for His mother. It’s so hard to show concern for another when you are in pain, but He did it. With the rough wood against his beaten back, still fresh with wounds from the lead-tipped whip, he reaches out and cares for His mother.

By now, we know how important it was for Jesus to make sure His mother was cared for. As we’ve seen before, life could be very difficult for women who had no male to care for them. I’m not sure why Jesus, as the oldest son, did not assign the responsibility to one of His brothers. Perhaps it is because the beloved disciple is there at the cross, and He wants to make sure this detail is not left undone. Perhaps his brothers still had hard feelings or did not understand Jesus’ ministry.

I’ve never suffered the physical or emotional pain Jesus did, but, as I consider His sweet words to His mother, I think about the times I have experienced emotionally or physically. Let me be honest. I seldom think about others when I am in serious pain. Oh no. It is all about me. Now, I don’t think God has a problem with us taking care of ourselves when illness strikes, but the fact remains that Jesus reached out to His mother while in anguish—an anguish I cannot imagine.

Think about how Jesus acted towards His mother at other times as He focused on ministry. He wanted to bring others into the Kingdom so that He could relate to them as brothers and sisters and mothers (Matthew 12:46-50).

But now, the focus seems to change, and He acts as the responsible son.

Jesus, the holy Son of God, became a man and as human son made sure His precious mother would be taken care of at His death.

A Moment to Reflect

As Christ-followers, we love to celebrate the Resurrection, as well we should. But I want you think about the cross for a few minutes, and what Jesus went through. I did not get into the details, but remember that He was beaten and further tortured to death by people hardened to suffering. Think about the simple statement that “Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.” The “scourging” alone probably put Him into a state of shock, and He would have been in serious or even critical condition. This is overwhelming to me. Perhaps there is something specific Jesus went through that you think is particularly heinous. Can you take a moment to thank Him for doing this for you?

Also thank Jesus for the way He ministered to His mother. Ask Him to help you see His ministry to you in a practical way. You could even ask Him to show you how precious you are to Him. Thank Him for any answers you receive and take time to record them. Then take the time to show God’s love to another.

God Loves You in Your Sorrow

Grief and hardship come to us all.

The heartache you and I face helps put comparatively minor circumstances into perspective. I have friends and relatives who are suffering, those who now have an empty place in their lives due to the loss of a spouse or loved one. There are others who are waiting—waiting for a job, waiting for news concerning their health, or waiting for a son, daughter, spouse, or sibling to return safely to them.

Grief is something all of us will face at some point or another. While nobody in my family has passed on this year, I have experienced some losses and have been reminded of the shortness of life. A few months ago, I lost a dear friend to cancer. She used to tell people that I was her special friend. Not only did we attend church together, we seemed to understand each other. We laughed at many of the same things, enjoyed coffee together, and her sweet spirit helped sustain me through some rough spots. But now she is in the arms of Jesus. I imagine she is happy in the extreme to be with the One she loves so dearly. Three more friends have also left this earth since then, all of them Christ-followers, all of them showing evidence of that fact. I am happy for them, but I grieve also—mainly for their spouses, children, and other family they left behind.

Two other friends face serious health issues. One has had a stroke and at a rather young age (I consider late fifties “young”). She made it to church after 8 months of absence. Another was awaiting a heart transplant when I originally wrote this. Just a few days ago, he got the call, and has successfully received a lung. He is doing well, but has a long road of recovery ahead.

Yet another friend surprised me when I saw him at church one Sunday morning, and he told me he had resigned his pastorate. He has no prospects right now, but made this decision, he told me because “it was time to leave.” I sensed his hurt even though he knows he is following God’s direction.

Hardships and struggle come to us all. This is an imperfect world, and we will face tragedy, loss of jobs, health issues, and a myriad of other disappointments.

Does this mean we have done something to displease God? Does it mean He is punishing us or is mad at us? Perhaps we even question if He still loves us.

I do not believe God is mad at you or that you have displeased Him. Yes, we can be disobedient but as a Christian, Christ has done all that is needed to please the Father and He is not punishing you. Realize that Christ suffered the punishment for our sins. Disciplining? Perhaps. Remember that discipline can just be redirecting, giving a different perspective, or leading you to repentance, but realize that He continues to love you.

If you are suffering or grieving or struggling or fighting an impossible battle, realize you may be doing just as God wants. Don’t believe me? Allow me to point to Job who God said  was a righteous man (Job 1:1). As a result of his righteousness, he suffered terrible losses. God also told Job’s friends they were wrong in their criticism of him. He told them to ask Job to pray for them and He would accept Job’s prayer (Job 42:8).

While I cannot answer your big questions in time of heartache or tragedy, I will suggest what God may want from you. He may just want to draw you close as He invites you to sit with Him. (He has a HUGE lap.)He may want to take your worries, exhaustion, and nightmarish circumstances upon Himself. Perhaps He just wants to love on and comfort you. The Bible says that He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1) who comforts us in all our sorrows so that we in turn can comfort others.

Take a moment today to ask God for His comfort, for His direction in whatever situation you face. And do not isolate yourself from others who want to comfort you.

When God comforts you, try to find someone who needs comfort, and pass what God has give you onto them. It may take time to be able to do this, but eventually, through your own sorrow, through your own tears, you will be able to see the needs of another.

Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).