John 19: 25-27 Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text
Now there were standing by the cross of Jesus, his mother and his mother’s sister and Mary of Cleopas and Mary of Magdela. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that very hour the disciple took her with him.
Can you even imagine being the mother of Jesus, beginning with giving birth to this Son of God under very special circumstances, then witnessing him be about his divine Father’s business early on, preaching in the Temple with wisdom way beyond a 12-year-old? Then imagine having to watch him leave his earthly father’s business and the family home to live out his immense mission, never to be really welcomed or understood in his hometown or by many of his own religion and country. Just try to imagine being a mother to a beloved son who spent his adult ministry in a most nontraditional way, walking the countryside, begging for food and shelter, in constant danger due to his defiance of and prophesying about the social, political, economic, and religious mores of his people and time.
Then, the tragic and terrible occurs, probably not a total surprise to Jesus’ mother, Mary, but still horrific to witness. She knows of her beloved son’s phony trial, brutal torture, hateful mocking, a betrayal and denial by his own disciples, and finally the unbearable pain involved in watching him have to carry his own bloody cross up the hill where he is horribly hung between two thieves. Finally she watches the continued humiliation as his only remaining earthly possession, his robe, is being gambled for and bought for 30 pieces of silver by the very people who had crucified him.
How is a mother able to stand close by witnessing what no human, let alone your beloved son, the Christ, had to endure, your only recourse to weep in utter despair and horror.
But there IS hope and beauty, lessons and mercy, in all things; we can give thanks in all things, unbelievably even in this scene, as Jesus, in clearly a superhuman moment of sheer grit and grace, literally lifts himself up in a God-inspired, spirit-strengthened act of tenderness and care for both his beloved disciple and his precious mother. Not wanting either after his earthly life was ended to be destroyed by grief, fear, or hopelessness, or to be without provision, loving companionship and care, he says to his mother first, “Woman, behold your son.” And then to his loved disciple, “”Behold your mother.” His earthly mission just hours from being finished by his own declaration, he gives two of his most beloved a new responsibility and relationship; it is a sort of blessed assurance and insurance for their lives going forward. What a perfect example of love for God and for others as Jesus fulfilled his vision of a peaceable and grace-filled kingdom of God on earth no matter how horrible the circumstances. Forgiving his persecutors below him, redeeming the thieves hanging on either side of him, and providing hope and a future to his mother and John, despite his death on the cross, Jesus proved that love ultimately prevails and renewed life and mission continue, though in a new form.
Prayer: Dear Mother-Father God, May we as your precious sons and daughters created in your image for your loving purpose, express tender loving care toward others even as we are in the midst of challenges or troubles, and may our lives speak kindness and grace, compassion and care, as inspired by Jesus. Amen.