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.

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