The seven words of life that Christ uttered while suffering the cross do not all have a clear chronological sequence. We aren’t sure for several of the statements exactly where they fit in the unfolding of those six horrific hours.
I believe with a good number of others that the second thing Jesus did from the cross was to see to the ongoing care of His mother. Mary would have been in her mid-to-late forties by this time. Widowed for several years, the primary responsibility for her care would have fallen to Jesus as the eldest son. Though there were brothers and sisters they obviously were not believers in the Deity of their brother. Therefore entrusting her to their care may have been spiritually damaging. Or perhaps they did not have the means to offer care to her.
And so, Jesus turned to His mother, the one who never doubted who He was, and said “Woman (a polite reference to an older female) behold your son.” And to His disciple and friend John, “Son, behold your mother.” That is a tremendous responsibility to entrust to family – much less a person who was not related. While history records that this was not unheard of, it was an extraordinary thing to ask. And that Jesus asked it in the midst of His greatest suffering speaks volumes about how we should care for others even when we are in pain.
Though we don’t hear much about Mary after Pentecost, we know something must have happened to her. Last week while visiting Selcuk, Turkey, we spent a day exploring the ancient ruins of Ephesus. On the way there we stopped by an area believed to be the house where Mary was moved by John to protect her in the early days of persecution in Jerusalem.
John’s home church was Ephesus. The quiet, isolated little house located near the top of the mountain just outside Ephesus where Mary lived out her days provided sanctuary and safety. But it also provided ease of access for John to go and check in on her and provide for her.
John did what Jesus asked… no matter the cost. And no greater compliment could be given any follower of Christ than that.
“Mother behold your Son. Son behold your mother. And John took her to his home from that hour.” John 19:26-27
FOR REFLECTION: Could Christ count on you to do the hard assignments for Him? What is the most difficult assignment He has asked of you?