What Jesus Did! 'Not by Herself' — Matthew 27:56

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Among [the women at the cross when Jesus was crucified] were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee.
— Matthew 27:56 NLT

Key Thought

We can't know what it was like for God watching Jesus die. We can imagine it. We can put our words and emotions into it. But we can't know. He is God. He had the power to stop it, but he didn't. He had to withhold what was rightfully his to use because our salvation was more important than his own pain. I can't know what that means.

However, God does give us a window through which we can see some of the personal aspects of the story of Jesus. Through this window we can be profoundly touched because we can imagine the confusion, the exhilaration, and the pain at different points in Jesus' story. The Good News can be told through the eyes of Jesus' mother. Mary is there when the angel announces that Jesus is conceived and that she will bear the Son of God. She is there to bear the brunt of rejection, ridicule, and misunderstanding after Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit before she is married. Mary is there when Jesus is born and placed in a manger far away from home. She is there when shepherds come and announce to them what the angels had said. She is there when the wise men come from far away bringing gifts for the King of the Jews. She is there on the journey to Egypt to preserve her son's life. She is there when the family moves into a carpenter's shop in Nazareth. She is there when Jesus is found in the Temple at twelve years old because he had to be in his Father's house. She is there when he turns the water into wine. She is there when all the family thinks he is crazy because he spends all his time curing and helping and teaching strangers. Mary is there ... She is even there at the cross, as John tells us, and she is there at the empty tomb and she is there at Pentecost.

Mary becomes our eyes and our heart. If we let her, she can open for us the emotions of loving Jesus and being bewildered at his greatness and crushed with his pain and overjoyed at his victory. But thankfully, Mary is not alone. Beside her, and in addition to her, are several other women who stay with her and love her son in a way they love no other. Each of them has a story to tell about Jesus almost as rich as her own. While a few share her name, all of them share her pain. So instead of Mary agonizing alone, she takes this journey with others who help her bear it and share with her in the joy and glory of her boy who was also God's Son.

Today's Prayer

Father, thank you that I can see Jesus' story through the eyes of real people who loved him, who suffered with him in his agony, and who rejoiced in his victory. Forgive me when I have tried to go about my walk alone. Lead me to the followers of Jesus who can help me shoulder my load, who can rejoice with me in your victories, and whom I can bless because we all love your Son, Jesus. In his name, my Lord and Savior, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Matthew 27:60-61, 28:1-5
  • Matthew 20:15-16
  • John 19:25-27


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Illustration of Matthew 27:56 NLT — Among [the women at the cross when Jesus was crucified] were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.