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The Third Word: Jesus and Mary are together again, at the

“Dear woman, here is your son.”

beginning of his ministry in Cana and now at
(John 19:26)
the end of his public ministry at the foot of the
Cross. What sorrow must fill her heart, to see
As Jesus was dying, his mother was among her Son mocked, tortured, and crucified. Once
those who had remained with him. Most of again, a sword pierces Mary's soul: we are
the male disciples had fled, with the reminded of the prediction of Simeon at the
exception of one whom the Fourth Gospel Temple (Luke 2:35) . There are four at the
calls “the disciple he loved.” We can’t be foot of the cross, Mary his Mother, John, the
exactly sure of the identity of this beloved
disciple, though many interpreters believe he
disciple whom he loved, Mary of Cleopas, his
is John, who is also the one behind the mother's sister, and Mary Magdalene. He
writing of this Gospel. addresses his third word to Mary and John,
No matter who the beloved disciple was, it’s the only eye-witness of the Gospel writers.
clear that Jesus was forging a relationship
between this disciple and his mother, one in But again Jesus rises above the occasion, and
which the disciple would take care of Mary
financially and in other ways. Jesus wanted
his concerns are for the ones that love him.
to make sure she would be in good hands The good son that He is, Jesus is concerned
after his death. about taking care of his mother. In fact, this
The presence of Mary at the cross adds both passage offers proof that Jesus was the only
humanity and horror to the scene. We are child of Mary, because if he did have brothers
reminded that Jesus was a real human or sisters, they would have provided for her.
being, a man who had once been a boy who
had once been carried in the womb of his
But Jesus looks to John to care for her.
mother. Even as he was dying on the cross
as the Savior of the world, Jesus was also a St. Joseph is noticeably absent. The historic
son, a role he didn’t neglect in his last paintings, such as Tondodoni by Michelangelo
moments. and The Holy Family by Raphael, suggest
When we think of the crucifixion of Jesus Joseph was a considerably older man. St.
from the perspective of his mother, our
horror increases dramatically. The death of a
Joseph had probably died by the time of the
child is one of the most painful of all parental crucifixion, or else he would have been the
experiences. To watch one’s beloved child one to take care of Mary. Early Christian
experience the extreme torture of crucifixion traditions and the second-century apocryphal
must have been unimaginably terrible. We’re Protoevangelium of James held that Joseph
reminded of the prophecy of Simeon shortly was a widower, and his children by his former
after Jesus’ birth, when he said to Mary:
“And a sword will pierce your very soul”
wife were the "brothers and sisters of Jesus."
(Luke 2:35).
This scene helps us not to glorify or Another striking phrase indicating Jesus was
spiritualize the crucifixion of Jesus. He was a an only child is Mark 6:3, referring to Jesus:
real man, true flesh and blood, a son of a "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and
mother, dying with unbearable agony. His the brother of James and Joses and Judas and
suffering was altogether real, and he took it
on for you and for me.
Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?"
Questions for Reflection Now if James, Joses and Judas and Simon
What does Mary’s presence at the cross were also natural sons of Mary, Jesus would
evoke in you? Why do you think was it not have been called the "son of Mary," but
necessary for Jesus to suffer physical pain as rather "one of the sons of Mary."
he died?


Final Words of a
Family Man
"Jesus said to his mother:
"Woman, this is your son." – John 19:25-27
Then he said to the disciple: April 1991 – This is the third saying of Jesus
"This is your mother." as he hung on the cross. It is sometime
between 9 A.M. and 12 noon on Friday in
Gospel of John 19:26-27
Jerusalem. A motley crowd has gathered at
Skull Hill to watch the goings-on.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his John took Mary, the mother of Jesus into his
mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and own home.
Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother
there, and the disciple whom he loved standing We wouldn’t understand at first reading the
nearby, he said to his mother, ’Dear woman, significance of those words. But in Jewish
here is your son.’ And to the disciple, ’Here is thought the instructions of a dying man were
your mother.’ From that time on this disciple of the same sort as if they were written on a
took her into his home.” piece of paper. So when Jesus cried out,
“Woman, behold your son” and “Son, behold
Mother Mary your mother", it is as if Jesus were writing his
own last will and testament and executing it
Mary is older now. The years have passed. right there. Jesus was saying to his mother,
Jesus has grown up. Mary has grown older too. “Mom, I’m leaving you now and I’m not going
She might be in her early 50s. Or she might be to be able to take care of you after I’m gone.
55 now. She could even be 60 or 65. She’s not Mom, there’s nothing else I can do for you.
a young girl anymore. She’s not a teenager You see John. John will be to you as I was to
anymore. She’s long past the childbearing you. He will be the son you need.” “John, do
years. She’s past her 20s, past her 30s, past you see my mother? Take care of her after I’m
her 40s. She’s a widow now. I think that’s gone. Do for her what I would do if I were still
certain. Joseph is gone. Somewhere between alive.”
the time Jesus was twelve and the time he
began his ministry Joseph seems to have
dropped off the scene. Mary’s alone now. She’s You ask, why in the
older now. Her shoulders are stooped a little
bit. And there are a few silver threads among
midst of all his agony
the gold. Those carefree days of youth are would Jesus even say
gone forever.
something like this? It is
She stands at the cross with two other women
and John the apostle. And on the cross, her
because even though he
first born son. She watched as they beat him. is dying in terrible,
She heard with the ear of a mother the
screams, the cries of agony as she watched agonizing torture upon
her son being tortured to death. She couldn’t
lift a finger to help him. She heard the swear
the cross, he is fulfilling
words of the crowd. The blasphemy. She the most basic
watched as they walked by and slapped him
and beat him and cursed him. And she could responsibility and the
do nothing about it.
most sacred obligation
Jesus’ Last Will and that any son ever had.
Testament He is making sure that
Only those who have watched a loved one die
could even begin to understand what it means
his mother is cared for.
for Mary to be at the cross that day. As the
hours pass and the agony increases she looks A Dying Son’s Request
at her son, just a shell of the man he used to What does the Bible say? He was a Jew. He
be, beaten almost beyond recognition, writhing was raised under the Law. He knew the fifth
in pain. And the crowd loving it. And in those commandment, “Honor your father and
hours suddenly the cry comes from the cross, mother.”
Jesus looking down sees his mother Mary and
sees John standing next to her and cries out It’s not as if Jesus had a lot of options at this
from the cross, “Woman, Dear Woman, point hanging on the cross. He knew that he
Mother, behold your son.” (speaking of John) would be dead within just a matter of hours.
and to John, “Behold your mother.” The Bible He couldn’t give his mother any money for he
says that when Jesus said those words from had no money to give her. He couldn’t say,
the cross, immediately, from that very hour, “Mom, when I get off this cross I’ll spend some
time with you,” because he had no time left to
spend. He couldn’t say, “Mother, in a week or
two we’ll take a trip together, just the two of
Worse Than An Unbeliever
us.” He couldn’t do that. All he could do in his Here’s the principle as I understand it. We all
dying moments was to fulfill that final know that the Bible says, “Honor your father
obligation to be sure that his mother was taken and mother.” The New Testament says,
care of after he was gone. “Children obey your parents.” I think it’s true
that once you leave your home there will be
You say, what is the truth here? The truth is times you will not be able to obey your
this. Although Jesus was about the business of parents. We all understand that. But there is
saving the world he was not too busy to care never a time when it’s okay not to honor your
for his parents. parents. Obey—not always. Honor—always and
forever. No one is discharged from that
I draw from this simple story three obligation.
If you ever use your Christianity as a reason
1. No one is ever discharged from not to take care of your parents, you’re worse
than an unbeliever. If you are a new Christian
that sacred obligation. and your parents have not followed you in the
Our Lord has left the pattern for us to faith, if you use that as a reason not to love
see. Though you be about the business of them and care for them and honor them, you
saving the world, though you be a know nothing of what the Christian faith is all
Christian committed to spreading the about.
gospel to the ends of this earth, you are
not now, nor will you ever be, discharged We want to save the world, don’t we? We can
from the sacred obligation to care for save the world, but while we’re saving the
your parents. Not now, not tomorrow, not world, let’s take the time to do what Jesus did.
ever. If our Lord Jesus, hanging in agony, Don’t ever use your great calling as an excuse
remembered his mother at the very end to get out of your basic moral obliga-tions. If
of his life, then so should we. No one here the Lord Jesus Christ—beaten, bruised and
is ever discharged from that sacred and holy bloody—if he had time for his parents while he
obligation. was on the way to saving the world, then you
have time for yours. That’s a sacred principle
2. When you can’t do anything else of Scripture.
for the people you love, you
can at least tell them, “I love Three Action Steps
you.” What do you do and where do you begin? Let
That’s what Jesus was saying on the cross. me give you three action steps this morning.
“Mom, I can’t come down. Mom, they’re going
to kill me. Mom, I’m a dead man but I want 1. If you really want to take this
you to be cared for and before I die I want you word to heart, go to your
to know that I love you.”
parents and tell them you love
3. No matter what you do in this them.
life, you can hardly be Some of you ought to make a phone call
today. Some of you ought to write a note
considered a success if in your
today. Some of you ought to say “I love you.”
rapid climb to the top you You really ought to do it. It’s been too long
neglect to care for your since you’ve done it. Listen, if you’re too busy
parents. to love your parents, you’re too busy. If you’re
too busy to honor your parents, you’re too
Did you hear what I said? No matter what else
busy. If you’ve filled your life with so much
you do in this life you can hardly be considered
good stuff that you have no time for the
a success if in your climb to the top you
people who brought you into this world, you’ve
neglect to care for your parents.
filled your life with a bunch of junk. You need
to change what you’re filling your life with.
It’s hard to explain this to kids. This is a
That’s number one—go to your parents and tell
principle that’s hard to put into words.
them you love them. Do it while you have the
2. If you can’t honor them while
they are alive, you can remember
them after they die.
This touches many of us whose parents have
already died. What do you do then? The Bible
never says, “Honor your parents only as long
as they are alive.” You are supposed to honor
your parents as long as you are alive whether
they are alive or not. How do you do that?
Remember them. Remember your mother and
your father. Isn’t it true that the worst fear we
have is that someday we will die and people
will forget that we were ever here? One way
you honor your parents’ memory is simply by
remembering what they have done for you. I
am not ashamed to say that when I went to
Alabama I thought about my Dad. He’s been
dead for 17 years. Some-body at the First
Baptist Church who knew my father, looked at
me and said, “You’re looking more like your
dad all the time.” I can’t imagine a better
compliment than that. My Dad’s been gone but
I still love him and I honor his memory. Just by
remembering who he was and what he did.

3.If you are unable to speak good

about your parents, you can honor
them by refusing to speak evil of
Many of you didn’t have a mother like Mary or
a father like Joseph. Your parents weren’t
there when you needed them. Perhaps there
was a divorce and they left you. Maybe you
don’t even know where your father and mother
are. Maybe you were abused and hurt by them
in the past. You say, “Pastor, I just can’t do
what you’re saying.” I accept that. But even if
your parents have hurt you, you are not
dismissed from the command to honor them.
Listen carefully. If you can’t do anything else,
there’s one way you can honor your parents
even if they hurt you. You can forgive them
and refuse to speak evil against them. If you
can’t do anything else, you can honor them by
refusing to speak evil of the people who
brought you into this world.