“Woman, here is your son.” (John 19:26)
Here we see Jesus entrusting his mother to John, the beloved disciple. Even in his agony, he cares for his mother. Immediately we see John take Mary into his home (vs 27). Jesus wanted to make sure that his mother was taken care of after his death.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Mary to watch her son dying on that cross. Did she understand why Jesus had to die? Did that lessen the agony she surely must have felt watching her son suffering so much? What did she think when she heard Simeon praise God and then tell Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel . . . and a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34-35). Did she recognize that Jesus chose to lay down his life of his own accord, believing that this was the cup his Heavenly Father has given him to drink (John 10:18; Mark 14:32-42)?
This year, I want to see the cross through Mary’s eyes and reflect anew on what it truly cost for Christ to die for me.
A Prayer of Reflection
Jesus, here at the foot of your cross, in the midst of injustice, inhumanity, and incomprehensible brutality, is a moment of tenderness: a mother remaining near her beloved son even when what she was seeing must have pummeled her heart with unspeakable grief . . . a son caring for his mother in his last minutes of life, making sure she’ll be in good hands after his death. The contrast between the horror of the context and the kindness of the communication couldn’t be more stark.
For years, dear Jesus, I didn’t know what do with Your mother. As a good Protestant, I kept her at a safe, respectful distance, much as I would a valuable antique that was dangerously fragile. Mary’s presence at Your cross was touching, but mostly as a way for me to note Your care for her.
Yet now, I find myself drawn into Mary’s perspective, and this is at first horrendous. If I think of how I would feel watching my own son die as you died, I can’t imagine a more agonizing moment. I must quickly put that thought away because it’s more than I can bear. And even if Mary somehow understood that this was part of God’s plan, her anguish in watching You suffer must have been unbearable.
But she remained there with You because she loved You. And in ways I cannot fully understand, Mary’s love for You stirs up my passion for You. I find it natural to stand back and watch Your death from a dispassionate distance, to think about what’s happening, to analyze and to examine. Partly that’s my nature. And partly I’m afraid to let my heart feel the pain of my beloved Savior’s crucifixion. But Mary draws me in. She engages my heart. Seeing through her eyes, I realize how much I am horrorstruck by what You experienced on the cross, how much I am awestruck by the majesty of Your sacrifice, and how much I love You, plain and simple.
So, my Lord, though I cannot literally come before Your cross, nevertheless I stand before You now, utterly horrified, utterly grieved, utterly humbled, utterly grateful, utterly filled with love for You.