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.

5 thoughts on “The Savior and His Mother at the Cross

  1. Beautifully written, Eileen, and so very true! HIS pain must’ve been excruciating, and that is an understatement. I remember doing a study on the crucifixion when I was in college, and a doctor wrote it. He went through the entire process from the viewpoint of a doctor and what happens to the body during a crucifixion. It made a profound effect on my realization what trauma that JESUS suffered for my sins, and I have never forgotten it. I have, however, forgotten some of the horrific details as the doctor described all of it – perhaps because it was so awful. So, each day when I pray, one of the things that I thank our LORD for is for dying on a cross to redeem my soul. Thank you for your writing.

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