The Savior and His Mother at the Cross

Based on John 19:17-35.

As I type the words of the title, 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. Her situation is just the opposite of mine. The Roman soldiers deliberately torture Jesus as they put Him to death. I won’t get into all He suffers and all the physical details of crucifixion. Suffice to say, it is a slow, painful death.

And Mary is watching.

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

And His mother is there.

Other women are with her, including Mary Magdalene. 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 is gone.

Is this the moment the steel pierces 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. 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.

At this time in history, it is important for a son to make sure His mother is cared for. As I’ve said before, life could be very difficult for women who had no husband, son or other male relative.

I’m not sure why Jesus does 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 have hard feelings towards Him, do not understand Jesus’ ministry, and have not spoken to him in years.

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 hurt, 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.

Let’s take a look back and consider how Jesus acts towards His mother at another time. In Matthew 12, someone informs Him that His mother and brothers want to see Him. He points to those listening, to those who follow Him, and declares them to be His family. At this point in time, His sole desire is 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. With the love he has shown others, He now demonstrates a love for the mother who bore Him and raised Him.

Jesus, the holy Son of God, became a man so that others can become a part of His family. Yet as human son, He 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 tortured to death by people hardened to suffering. Think about the simple statement: “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.

Peace to You, my Children

Have you ever wished you could just disappear? Responsibilities weigh you down, and you want to leave them behind. That weight perhaps causes you to forget the good things, the blessings you have.

Maybe you feel this way now or have felt this way in the past. There is no peace in your home, in your job, your community, let alone in your country and in the world. You are tired of the bickering in politics. Yes, I “went there” because I have found that putting my energy into “whose side” I’m on can drain me. My fear of the future may haunt me because of what the politicians are doing or not doing. Or because of war or the threat of war.

The Eleven remaining disciples are different from us though, right? They know they have to continue His mission. So, they go out and preach everywhere the Gospel and love of Christ!

Oh, wait. No, they don’t.

Instead, they go into hiding. Fearful of the Jews—which meant, by the way, the fear of the Jewish leaders—they disappear from the public eye. Huddling together, they lock the doors. But without a warning, instead of a dreaded pounding on the door, Jesus appears in their midst.

And is He ever upset with them! After all, they’ve denied Him, deserted Him, and even fallen asleep while He asks them to pray (Matthew 26:36-45, 56, 69-75). And they know their mission. Yet they hide from the perceived threats that He has had to face.

At least that’s what He could have told them. But instead, His first words are “Peace be to you.” They are frightened by His appearance, thinking he is a ghost or spirit. At this point Jesus seems disappointed with their doubt yet He tells them to “Handle me and see…” in order to assure them it is Him in the flesh. (Luke 24:36-40).

After this event (we don’t know how much later), Peter announces he is going fishing, and some of his fishing buddies decide to go with him. I’m not sure what motivates Peter, but he heads out to his former occupation. Apparently, Peter does not want the responsibilities of being a fisher of people, not only catching them, but teaching and training them as well.

The men fish all night as is the custom, but by morning, they have caught nothing.

Someone on the shore calls out, and the voice carries across the water, “Children, do have any food?”

So Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you don’t have any fish, do you?’ They replied, ‘No.’ He told them, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ – Slide 4

With a weary sigh, they holler back, “No.”

Who is this guy anyway?

Maybe they should have known when He calls them “children,” but only after He tells them to cast the net on the other side of the boat, and they catch a net full of fish does Peter realize “It’s the Lord!” And Peter, being Peter, jumps in the water and swims towards Jesus.

When they haul the fish to shore, Jesus invites them to breakfast. He asks them to bring Him some of the fish even though he has already started cooking and tells them to come and eat. He doesn’t fuss at them for fishing. He doesn’t tell them they should be ashamed for trying to net fish when he has told them to fish for people (John 21:3-13).

Do these reactions by our Lord surprise you? Don’t we sometimes see God waiting to fuss at us when we lack faith or when we turn back to our old ways?

But look at what Jesus does. He knows these men are hungry after working a physically exhausting and discouraging job. So, he prepares a meal for them. I also think He longs to sit with these men and enjoy their company before ascending to the Father.

That is God! He understands. He comes to us in our need and even in our doubts. He holds us close, sits with us in fellowship, and invites us to sup with him, to be nourished at his hand.

I know God disciplines us and guides us away from the wrong path, or even away from a good path to the best one, but He knows our needs too. He understands when we falter. He will come to us, remind us He is our peace, and remind us we are His children.

Perhaps He calls to you today. “Children, have you any meat?”

No matter what your need, He longs to fill it. Bow to Him, set your longings at His feet, and trust Him to sustain you.