Third of the Seven Last Words

Behold your son: behold your mother. Behold your son: behold your mother. Behold
John 19:26-27

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As I begin to focus my thoughts upon the third saying spoken by Jesus on the cross, I try to picture in my mind what is witnessed by those at this scene. Even though Jesus is hanging on the cross, his eyes are still roving around and seeing the people within his view. It appears strange to me that a crowd of people would come to a crucifixion to watch three men die, but  that seems to be the scenario. I wouldn’t want to be there! I am also amazed that Jesus is able to focus so intently upon the presence of his mother, the disciple John, and other women and disciples who are near the cross. Not only does he see them, but he still speaks coherently to them. Today I read in the gospel of John.

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby,
he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”
From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
John 19:26-27

Two thoughts come to my mind as I read this scripture. First, I admire how considerate Jesus is to make provision for his mother. Secondly, I find it interesting that Jesus asks the disciple John rather than one of his biological brothers to care for Mary. My Reader, let me share with you what I have contemplated.

I read an article online entitled Adapted from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (John 19) that was interesting.  “Jesus established a new relationship between his beloved mother and his beloved disciple.” Being confident in the love John had for himself, Jesus felt secure in entrusting His mother to the guardianship of this disciple. From that moment on, John took Mary to his own home and cared for her as if she were his mother. Matthew Henry’s article went on to say that it was a great responsibility for John to take care of Mary but he cheerfully accepted it and took her to his home. He did not object to the trouble or expense, nor his obligations to his own family, nor the ill-will he might experience by it. According to Nicephoras’s Ecclesiastical History (book 2, chapter 3), Mary lived with John at Jerusalem eleven years and then died. Others say she went with John to Ephesus.

When I look more closely at the crucifixion crowd, I ask myself, “Where were Jesus’ brothers while he was hanging on the cross?” I do not find an answer to this question, but it does remind me of the following scripture.

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived.
Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.
A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him,
“Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers!
Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.
Mark 3:31-34. (emphasis is mine)

I once heard an explanation for this scripture saying that Jesus was not disowning his biological family by these words but was emphasizing that anyone who did the will of God was just as important to him as his family relatives. The family of God was more inclusive than the biological family for Jesus and the same is true for me today. However, biological family can also be a part of God’s family. I like this because I believe Jesus loved his family. Even though his brothers may not have completely understood Jesus at this time (I guess I cannot blame them for that!), according to Galatians 1:19 and I Corinthians 9:5, there was one brother who became an apostle and other brothers who became missionaries at later dates. Biological family vs spiritual family comments help me to understand why Jesus asked John to take care of his mother. Jesus loves all people and sees all of us for who we are and who we can be in Christ whether we be part of his biological family or the larger family of God. When Jesus looks down from the heavenly realm where He now resides and sees my cares and concerns, he will personally sustain me or lay it upon someone’s heart to reach out to me with the provision I need just as he saw the needs of His mother and made arrangements for her needs.

This third word of the seven last words of Jesus is known as “The Word of Redemption.” To redeem means to pay the price for or to buy back. Jesus redeemed us, paid the price for our sins enabling us to be part of the family of God as God originally planned at the time of creation. When I think about this fact, it seems very appropriate that Jesus would ask John to care for his mother because by doing so he was giving John the responsibility and role of a son in tending for his mother. He was elevating John to the personal relationship of a brother when he thought highly enough of him to entrust him with this responsibility. Jesus was setting the stage to put into action the plan that when anyone accepts Jesus as his or her personal savior, he or she becomes a part of the family of God. This is why we can be known as brothers and sisters in Christ today. According to Ephesians 1:7-8, “In him (Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”  Thank you Jesus for this fact! If I am a sister in the family of God, what is Jesus asking me to do today – who is He asking me to care for? My Reader, my sister or brother in Christ, what is Jesus asking of you?


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