THE CLIMB TO CALVARY
Meditations on The Seven Last Words of Christ
WEDNESDAY: The Third Words
“When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, ‘Woman, behold thy son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27).
We now learn that Jesus’ mother is witnessing her own son’s six-hour execution. Could there be anything more barbaric for a person to see than that? Sadly and inexplicably, it’s true that parents are sometimes forced to watch their beloved children die and depart for heaven – but not through death on a cross.
Only thirty-three years earlier, on a cold winter’s night, the scene and setting was so different. In the darkness the angels sang and the star of Bethlehem hung high for all to see and stare in wonder. Here was the baby Jesus, the King of Kings, nestled softly and tenderly in His mother’s arms. All was calm. All was bright. Peace on earth; goodwill toward men.
But now, standing on a dark and windswept Calvary, that was all just a long-ago memory for Mary. She is swallowed up, if not consumed, by her sorrows. She is now forced by circumstance to watch her son, and the hope of the world, die a slow and agonizing death.
Yet as painful as it clearly was for Mary, Jesus, ever compassionate, shows very practical concern for His mother. He rises above His own pain. As the oldest male in the family, Jesus knows that Mary would have expected Him to care for her. (We can only assume from his absence that Joseph is dead, and therefore Mary’s welfare is Christ’s responsibility.)
In these few words Jesus affirms the importance of loving, caring and taking responsibility for one’s family. At a time when He would be rightfully consumed by His grief and pain, He is putting the focus on His mother and His family, not on Himself.
Are you going through a season of personal pain and anguish? Are you finding yourself consumed by your own problems and concerns? If Jesus, while nailed to the cross and dying a slow death can think of others besides Himself, can each of us His followers extract ourselves from our own little story and consider the needs of others?
From these few words on the cross on Calvary, Christ teaches us the importance of losing ourselves in the service and care of other people. Is there someone depending on you or in need of your help? Do you think you’re too busy – or are you willing to assist them, but only after you’ve solved all your own problems?
On this Wednesday of Holy Week, I would urge you to reconsider the selfless care and devotion that Jesus exhibited on the cross, and then follow His example.