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Woman Behold Your Son

Woman Behold Your Son

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Category: Two Minute Meditations

We come to one of the most horrific moments of human history. Yet this is also a sacred place, a crack in space and time where God lets the forces of hell do the unthinkable to bring about our redemption. As Jesus endures dehumanizing ridicule on the cross, we meet two sets of four. Four hardened, death squad soldiers gamble for his clothes in calloused greed in the shadow of his cross. Also nearby, four horrified and faithful women watch helplessly as their Lord dies.
When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. "Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it."

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing."

So this is what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear 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 19:23-27 TNIV).

Feel the stark contrast of a death squad's duty and a helpless mother's horror. Every detail of this scene serves to magnify a son's love for his mother in the last few moments he has breath.

"Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

If we want to know what Jesus loves — who and how he wants us to love — how could he make it any clearer? Look closely! To the very end, even in his agony, Jesus acts with love to his mother. In his last moments, he looks to provide a home for her through "the disciple whom he loved" — a new family forged in the shadow of the cross.

"Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

In this moment, Jesus reminds us of God's concern for widows. Mary is a woman who needs the care of family, something God has always expected his community of faith to provide. To this point, Jesus' physical family has not come to faith (John 7:1-5). But as Jesus mentioned early in his ministry, his family was made up of those who do the will of God (Matthew 12:48-50).

In addition, even as he goes through unspeakable grief himself, he demonstrates his support of those who face grief. He had wept in sadness and in anger as death claimed his friend Lazarus. He had been touched by the grief of the widow at Nain (Luke 7:11-16) and by the deep loss of parents of a twelve year old girl (Mark 5:21-43). His concern for those who mourn is unmistakable.

Jesus shows each of these dimensions of his love even as his own life ebbs away from his bleeding and abused body. While he has been embarrassed, mocked, reviled, ridiculed, beaten, and tortured, Jesus displays his love for his grieving family. While some of Jesus' sayings from the cross offer us assurance and hope, this saying challenges us to share his love for those most vulnerable.
"Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

But many have had less than stellar families. Some even have had awful, abusive, families. What about them? Where are they to find and demonstrate such loyalty and love?

Jesus' death calls into existence a new community: a family of faith. This is a family tied together by their bond to the crucified Messiah and the character of God himself! The Lord's death is the beginning of a new family.

"Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

This is a family where DNA and genealogy matter less than what Jesus' death and his call to live for him mean to us. This is a family called to care for the least, the last, and the lost. The marginalized and forgotten are the very folks Jesus' family is called to embrace and to offer protection and support. This value was declared in the Old Testament: God places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6) and cares for the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner (Deuteronomy 24:19-21). Jesus' "brother," James, called the early Christian community to embrace this same value (James 1:26-27).

How important are these values? How important are those that society often forgets? How important is it for us to honor our parents? How important is it to care for those who grieve?

These are the ones to whom Jesus demonstrates his love in the moments just before his death. How can we do less in the daily walk of our lives?

"Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

How do the events of the Cross create a new community of care?

Why is it important for us to care for the least, the last, and the lonely?

What are some practical ways that Jesus' community can care for those who are older or in need of protection and care?

I'd love for you to share your responses on my blog so we can address these issues together in our families of faith:
http://www.thephilfiles.com/2008/07/20/community-of-the-cross/

About the Author

Phil Ware
Phil Ware works with churches in transition with Interim Ministry Partners and for the past 18 years, he has been editor and president of HEARTLIGHT Magazine, author of VerseoftheDay.com and aYearwithJesus.com. For more details, click here.

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