Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!"
I'm sure here were many things Mary pondered in her heart about Jesus when he at 12 years old, gave a profound answer to the question she and Joseph asked him after finding him in the temple in Jerusalem asking and answering questions from the Pharisees and the Scribes. As a mother who would naturally be worried and concerned about her son who was not found in the caravan traveling back toward Nazareth, Mary in a way rebuked her 12 year old by asking:
"Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have sought you anxiously". Jesus responded back to them: :Why did you seek me? did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?" It was obvious that they did not understand the answer or the manner in which he responded to them. (Luke 2: 48-50) In fact it's highly plausible that there were many things said by Jesus throughout his ministry that even his mother at key interval points of her life had to ponder to get a clearer understanding of what he meant or even why he did things the way he did. According to Luke 2:51-52, Jesus returned home with Joseph and Mary and was subject to them. This passage covers the next 18 years of Jesus life up to the age of 30.That is, he obeyed them as a child should. Not only this, Luke said that Jesus grew in wisdom and statue and found favor both with God the father as well as with men. One Biblical commentator in Barnes Commentary Notes expounded on this situation:
When Jesus responded to her questioning by saying: "Why have you sought me with so much anxiety?", the writer contends Mary should have known that the "Son of God" was safe; that his heavenly Father would take care of him, and there was no way Jesus would or could do anything wrong.But alas Mary was thinking like any mother would be if their child had turned up missing. This commentator said she should have remembered what Gabriel the angel told her when he announced to her that God had highly favored among women. That the child was holy, and her child had a divine purpose for being born into the world, thus, by design everything about him and his purpose at some point in his life would supercede the duties of just being an child and obeying the whims of his earthly parents.
At some point in the life of Jesus, they were going to have to be willing to give him up for the purpose in which he lived and allow him to fulfill his destiny. Jesus told them and others after he started his ministry the real purpose of his coming; telling them at least 4 times that he would suffer at the hands of the Roman government, the Pharisees and Scribes. He reminded them that this was the reason he came down from heaven, that his Heavenly Father had a greater calling upon his life than the hopes, dreams and aspirations of his earthly parents, thus even at this point in his earthly life (when they found him at the temple) that he should be engaged in the redemption work in which he came. Even though Jesus didn't officially enter into his public ministry work for another 18 years, the "work" of God was still his work, and even in childhood, it was proper for him, even as a child to be engaged in the great business for which he came down from heaven in the first place.
A Stroll Down Memory Lane:
One can only imagine the many thoughts that filled the heart of Mary on that faithful day at the cross as she now watches her beloved son hang on a rugged cross, having been accused of blasphemy, sedition and insurrection. Many memories of yesteryear will come to the forefront of our minds as we stand before a dying love one. It's been a few hours now, her son Jesus bleeding from head to toe, naturally suffering from the beatings he received, while at the same time bearing the sins of every man in his bleeding and battered body. If we were allowed to take a stroll in the mind of Mary, I'm sure she took a stroll in her own mind back to the beginning the first time they went to the temple to have Jesus circumcised and dedicated and came in contact with the Prophetess Anna, the daughter of Phanuel. Anna, according to the Bible stayed in the temple day and night fasting and praying and giving thanks to the Lord. Talk about dedication! If only we would become this dedicated toward God. How much better would our lives be? Anna spoke of Jesus to everybody she came in contact with from that time on.
And then there was Simeon, (Luke 2:25-25) a just and devout man who was waiting for the "consolation" of Israel.(Jesus) According to the Bible, Simeon was endowed by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit told him that he would not die until he laid eyes on the Christ child.I am sure the words of Simeon came across her mind when Simeon took Jesus in his arms and blessed God in the temple during the baby dedication and said: " Lord, now you can let your servant depart in peace according to your word; For my eyes have seen Your Salvation which you have prepared before the faces of all peoples; A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel." (Luke 2: 29:32)
Back when Simeon said these things, the Bible said Joseph and Mary marveled at these words, but little did she know at that time that His words were not only prophetic, but she would actually see them come to fruition in her lifetime. Now those very words were staring her in the face as Jesus was hanging on the cross right before her eyes.You see, the Bible said Simeon then blessed them after he blessed God and said to Mary "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel. He will be a "sign" which will be spoken against. A sword will pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many may be revealed."
A Powerful Testimony of Restraint and Perseverance:
As we focus on the events happening around the cross, here she is, her heart was being pierced. Mary was heartbroken, watching her son Jesus writhing in agony, but God saw this moment as Jesus making all things new, carrying out His, God's and the Holy Spirit's plan of redemption that was put in place before the foundation of the world. Mary as his mother sees him as her "suffering crucified son". God sees him as his "suffering servant" and the "Lamb of God" that was slain before the foundation of the world, who came to take away the SIN of the world that separated Adam and Eve in Eden from God, and caused all men born after the fall of Adam and Eve to be "born in sin and shaped in iniquity". Jesus , the "Lamb" slain in eternity past now is hung on a cross in Mary's present who lived in "time present." Yet, Mary was undaunted, was not to be deterred from the fury of the enemy. (Pharisees, Scribes, Romans, Sanhedrin, Satan) Neither was she overcome by the horrific sight of a "crucifying cross". No, she could not take him down from the cross. There was no way she could rescue him or relieve the excruciating pain shooting through his body, but the love she had for him gave her the strength to stand by him, even at this dark hour. It's been said that His torments were her tortures; that she was upon a rack , while Jesus Jesus was raised and stretched out on the cross; that her heart bled with his wounds, while he was being "wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him and by his stripes, we were being healed"; (Isaiah 53:5) and the "reproaches" wherewith they reproached him actually fell on those who reproached him.
Yet, what was equally remarkable about Mary's was her demeanor at the cross in this hour of a heavy trial and persecution. You would've expected her to be emotionally out of control and at her wits end.You would have expected her to tear her clothes, ripping out her hair, pleading with anyone who would listen to do something to save her son and get him down off that cross.But God gave her the strength to hold out and hold on; thus God kept her composed, reassuring her that all of this would work out for her good and the good of mankind, if they would only believe in the Messiah. This gives you the feeling that Mary inwardly had a greater expectation of the resurrection that most of the mourners did. What we must remember is many times we don't know how much we can bear until we are faced with major crisis in our lives. In times like these we find ourselves getting through the grief and trauma of a critical or grave situation. It's times like these when we can hear the voice of the Lord echo in our ears;"My grace is sufficient for you".
"Woman, Behold Your Son."
Even in the grave state Jesus was in on the cross as death was slowly approaching him, Look at the care he provided for his soon to be surviving mother. Even in the midst of suffering, Jesus still was concerned for those he held dear to his heart.Jesus knowing what may have been on his mother's heart knew she was so concerned for his welfare that she gave no credence that her living situation was about to change within hours. So, Jesus in one of the his final acts on the cross lets Mary know that she would be taken care of and provided for. The Bible said then Jesus look at his mother and said: "Woman, behold your son," and looks toward John, the beloved disciple. Jesus gave her into the care of the 'beloved disciple.'
Naturally, the question arises: Why did Jesus leave her welfare in the hands of his biological brothers? The reason was his own brethren were not believers at this time. Symbolically, this situation served as an illustration of the unity Christ wants in the Church, that is believers yoked up with other believers.in fellowship and as a church family in which the Lord was bringing into being, was to be spiritual rather than natural. Second, the reason Jesus called her "woman" and not mother was not to disrespect her. He called her this to spare her wounded heart of more moments of grief and trauma associated with the "pains" of a grieving mother. Third, according to one Biblical commentary, it was designed to keep the future commentators and religious factions that would arise in the forming church from "deifying Mary and grafting "divine honors" upon her that were not warranted, as if Mary was a "joint purchaser" of our redemption.
At this point of the crucifixion, I believe Jesus, being closer to "transition" was "distancing himself" from his human side to returning completely to his divinity. Thus this was HIM (the Second part of the Godhead) speaking in godly authority, yet with compassion toward a grieving woman who was about to lose a son to the pangs of death. One other thing we must consider here is Jesus was also "transitioning" from his role as Prophet to his "priestly role" as our great High Priest and Intercessor after the resurrection. It is in this role that Jesus will "sitting" at the right hand of God the Father and interceding in our behalf as he also "goes to prepare a place for us and will one day soon return for those who truly accept HIM as Lord and Savior. Sometimes, God will give us another person or persons to fill the void left by a departed love ones. He does this so we can see that not only God loves us but he also does this so we can continue to live and love as Christ lived and loved those who were precious in his sight. Mary was to now to "mother" John the beloved disciple as we will find out in the next article John was to take on the responsibility of caring for his "new" mother.
Dr. William Edward Boddie