Essay: The Third Word

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  • Subject area(s): Religious studies and theology essays
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  • Published: 22 September 2015*
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John 19:25-27
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 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.
Meditation :
If you and I had been in Jerusalem that afternoon, when Jesus was crucified, I wonder how near the cross we would have stood. It is one thing to sing, “Jesus, keep me near the cross,” and it is quite another thing to actually stay near the cross.
Let us look at the passage where Jesus said ‘Woman here is your son’. Why did Jesus not call His mother as ‘mother’? Why did he call her ‘Woman’? Maybe He wanted her to know that her natural ties with Him as a mother/son were going to be replaced by spiritual ties of ‘Lord’ and ‘Saviour’. In the Kingdom of God, spiritual ties have preference over natural ties. Jesus knew He was going to triumph over death. He knew He was a part of the Triune nature of God. Jesus addressing His mother as ‘woman’ is not to be seen as a disrespectful gesture. It was a phrase equivalent to ‘Madam’ in current times.
Jesus knew that Mary’s heart was bleeding for Him. On seeing His suffering, He knew that her grief had no bounds. Only those who have watched a loved one die can even begin to understand what it meant for Mary to be near the cross that day. When He saw her, He was filled with compassion for her. So when Jesus cried out, ‘Woman, here is your son’ and ‘Son, here is your mother’, it is as if Jesus was writing His own last will and executing it right there. It was as if He was saying to his mother, ‘Mom, I’m leaving you now. There’s nothing more I can do for you. John will be to you as am to you. He will be the son you need.’ ‘John, do you see my mother? Take care of her after I’m gone. Do for her what I would do, if I were still alive.’ Even in His suffering He did not forget His responsibility as a son. Although Jesus was going about the business of saving the world He was not too busy to care for His mother. After fulfilling His eternal Father’s wish, He turned towards fulfilling the needs of His mother. Not once did He think about Himself or His suffering. He wanted His mother to be cared for. Beloved, He was actually following God’s commandment of honouring His Father and mother till the very end. If our Lord Jesus Christ’beaten, bruised and covered with blood ‘ had time for His mother while He was saving the world, then we should have time for ours, shouldn’t we? This is one of the sacred principles of Scripture. We have a lesson to learn here. If we are to follow the teachings of Jesus then we must honour God’s commandments. How well He defined obedience to the Father’s commandments even in the midst of pain and suffering. What a role model He is for anyone who follows him.
Songwriter Charles Gabriel has correctly penned,
“He had no tears for His own grief,
But sweat drops of blood for mine,
Oh, how marvellous, Oh, how wonderful,
Is my Saviour’s love for me.”

What a beautiful song! The perfect, sinless Christ revealed the depth of His obedience to His heavenly Father with this third statement from the cross. Let’s look at Mary. Let’s pause for a moment and think about what she might have gone through. That in the middle of her suffering and grief, when she watched her son being crucified on the Cross, she might not have expected Jesus to give her another son as a replacement for her loss. The Lord’s compassionate love must have filled her grieving heart and brought her some comfort and solace. Whatever is hurting you today, allow the compassionate love of Jesus Christ to fill your heart. Let Him comfort you in the midst of your pain. We need to be confident that Christ can take care of us and provide for us in our toughest times ‘ times when we are hurt and grieving. All that Jesus did on that cross, He did for each of us. The pain, the suffering, the awful acceptance of sin into His very person, His rejection, His death, all for you – all for me!
Let us go back to the passage where it says ‘the disciple whom he loved standing nearby’. Now Jesus loved all his disciples equally. But John loved Jesus with all his heart hence he wants himself to be seen as someone who is loved by Jesus. But he has this peculiar style of addressing himself in the third tense. Maybe he wants to be humble and maybe according to him, announcing his name along with Jesus would show some sort of boastfulness on his part or so he thought. But from that hour … John seems to be in a better circumstance than the other apostles. Why? ”’ Because he was given the responsibility of caring and looking after the earthly mother of the Saviour who was crucified on the Cross.
John alone stood by the cross in honour of Jesus. He stood in minority. There was no one with him. He stood in harm’s way. He knew it could cost him his life. But his endearing love for the Lord Jesus made him go closer to the cross. He stood near enough that Jesus could speak personally to him. He stood in support of Jesus’ mother – caring for what Jesus cared for. Can Jesus count on you? Will we stand for Him, even when we are in minority, even when it may seem costly? Are we willing to stay close enough to Him that He can speak to us in the midst of a loud, hateful world? These are questions that we should ask ourselves.
John completely, obediently, and immediately accepted the command of Jesus. He took Mary from that hour into his home. Tradition holds that John never left Jerusalem or entered into his wider ministry until Mary died. He kept the command of Jesus till the end. It was a direct act of obedience for the Lord. He went on to do many wonderful things for Christ, including writing a Gospel and three epistles.
If we draw close to the Cross, like Mary and John, He will bring us into close family relations with other believers. He will bring us together with others who are like-minded, who draw close to the cross so that together we can serve the Lord. Beneath the cross of Jesus, Christian fellowship was born not just for Mary and John, but also for you and me, and everyone who believes. Beneath the cross, all true believers become family, united in one spiritual bond. Beneath the cross, all true believers become brothers and sisters in the Lord, through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Preacher John Piper says ‘Let us all take courage in the care and power and provision of our Lord. If He was eager to care for his mother, how much more eager will He be today to care for those who hear and do the word of God! If Jesus could provide for the needs of His own in the moment of His greatest weakness and humiliation, how much more can He provide for your need in His present wealth of power and exaltation. And if Jesus purchased the sins of all people with His own blood and ordained, that in it, grieving mothers find sons and sons find mothers, then no one should be without a caring family today in the body of Christ.’
Matthew Henry’s commentary says this ‘All things therein written shall be fulfilled. Christ tenderly provided for His mother at His death. Sometimes, when God removes one comfort from us, He raises up another for us, where we looked not for it. Christ’s example teaches all men to honour their parents in life and death; to provide for their wants, and to promote their comfort by every means in their power.’
So we leave this place today, let us pledge to be committed to live the way Jesus lived and to die the way He died. Thinking not of ourselves, but thinking of others. Thinking with Christ-like love and compassion.

Let’s pray :
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your amazing love and compassion. We would be so hopeless and lost without you. Even in the midst of all our troubles we are confident that you care for our every need. Help us Father to receive your comfort and compassion and teach us to be compassionate to all those around us. Speak to us, Lord, that we may hear Your voice and act in obedience to Your will.
We pray these things in Your most holy and mighty name, Amen.

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