Woman, Behold Your Son

What mother wouldn’t go? She gave Him birth, rocked Him to sleep, changed His diaper and fed Him from her own breast. Like mothers do, she believed her Son could do no wrong. (Well, in this instance she was absolutely right!)

Her Son, this Divine gift that appeared in a womb that had never known a man, was now being ripped from her arms in the cruelest form imaginable. She watched as merciless hands accused, slapped, cursed, whipped and stripped Him and ultimately hung Him on Roman timber to die a death gasping for air, for water, for relief.

Jesus now occupied the place for which He had come. A cross between two thieves, falsely accused, blood flowing, sweat mixed with blood from a crown of thorns pressed painfully into His brow; an ironic form of mockery. He deserved a crown. We gave Him thorns. He made all the water on the earth. He was not given even a taste.

He was crucified. Not known even by His loving mother Mary, He was dying for her. But maybe this one indignity was more than the God-man could bear. She heard the old prophet Simeon in the temple speak the harsh words at His presentation in the temple as an infant, “A sword will pierce your heart.” And so it was. This was the day of the sword. Her heart was pierced and torn to pieces.

And so, even as every form of human dignity and decency was taken from Him, and every nerve of His human body set afire by unimaginable pain, Jesus thought of this woman who said to the angel Gabriel, “Let it be unto me as you have said.” She never imagined it would mean this day at Golgotha.

But Jesus spared her the worst. He left it to her imagination on this day of suffering. He saw His friend John standing near His mother and with gasping breaths spoke these words, “Mother, behold your son. Son behold your mother.” John knew what he heard. He knew what Jesus was saying.

And so weeping, Mary left the cross with her new son. Legend tells us he cared for her until her death in a little house outside of Ephesus.

Jesus didn’t see even the extremity of this moment or the eternity-altering mission He was undertaking as a reason to overlook the needs of those He loved. In a day when people are easily abandoned because of the inconvenience they bring, Jesus brought the needs of His mother to the forefront.

What wondrous love is this?

“When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, `Woman, behold, Your son.’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Son, behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” John 19:26-27

Our Father, as Jesus taught us with His dying breaths, may we love and give care to those among us who need it most. May our compassion be like His, and never lack. Amen.


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