When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” John 19:26
One of the things that set Jesus’s ministry apart was the way He interacted with women. Each encounter teaches us something about Jesus and our relationship to Him. It is important to notice in each case, Jesus treated these women with dignity and respect that was unheard at that time and in that culture. That in itself is instructive as we interact with people now.
In the very first post in this series, we looked at a conversation between Jesus and His mother at a wedding in Cana. That exchange signalled a change in their relationship as Jesus began His public ministry. This exchange marks Jesus’s last words to His mother. It is just two short sentences, but we can still learn some key lessons from it.
Mary displays courage and devotion to her son, her savior in not abandoning Him in this terrible moment. No matter how awful, no matter how painful, she cannot, she will not leave Him. Once again, Mary sets an example for us.
It is remarkable that in the midst of enduring the outpouring of God’s wrath, an agony we cannot imagine, that Jesus is moved to act with compassion toward His mother. He sees her and He realizes His obligation to her as the oldest son. No doubt she is widowed at this point and by every societal custom, and tradition, He was responsible for her.
Announcing this to her from the cross is an amazing affirmation that He sees her, that He has not forgotten her, even now. That is incredible encouragement, that we are seen, that our needs are known and that Jesus in compassion, acts to meet those needs.
Then Jesus speaks to John, entrusting Mary to his care, not to Jesus’s brother James, the next oldest son or even to John’s older brother, James. Perhaps it was because John would not have responsibility for his own mother, being the younger son. Perhaps Jesus trusted John because John’s faith and devotion most closely matched Mary’s. James and the rest of Jesus’s brothers were not yet believers. The bond of love through Christ was even more significant than blood relationships. John immediately shouldered that responsibility.
As members of the body of Christ, let’s make sure we selflessly love and care for each other, and that we readily accept that holy responsibility.
Even in such a short encounter, we are amazed at the care and compassion Jesus shows and how His followers, including His mother show their commitment and obedience to Him. May we be encouraged to follow those examples.