Mother, Behold Your Son; Son, Behold Your Mother

John 19:16-27
Ephesians 2:11-22

Jesus was always thinking of others; even as He hung upon the cross, He was thinking of others. He addresses those directly involved in His crucifixion with the words,

Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

He turns His attention to one of the thieves being crucified next to Him and says,

Truly, truly, I say unto you, today you shall be with Me in paradise.”

And then we come to the most tender and touching of all the scenes played out at the foot of the cross; when we find the Lord Jesus addressing His mother. Certainly the closest earthly companion He had and also, the disciple that Jesus loved, John. As He speaks to these two, Jesus bleeds with compassion.

“Woman . . . behold your son.”

Strange words for her to hear, don’t you think? “Behold your Son?” She’s probably thinking, Son, I haven’t taken my eyes off you from the very beginning.

Bible scholar, A. W. Pink, writes about Mary as she stands at the foot of the cross:

When the supreme hour strikes of her son’s agony, when the world has cast out the child of her womb, she stands there, by the cross. Who can fitly portray such a picture? Mary was nearest the cruel tree! Bereft of faith and hope, baffled and paralyzed by the strange scene, yet bound with the golden chain of love to the dying one, there she stands!

O what a sword it was that pierced her own soul then! Never such bliss at a human birth, never such sorrow at an inhumane death. Here we see displayed . . . the mother-heart. She is the dying man’s mother. The one who agonizes there on the cross is her child.

She it was, who first planted kisses on the brow now crowned with thorns. She it was, who first guided those hands and feet in their first infantile movements. No mother ever suffered as she did. His disciples may desert Him, His friends may forsake Him, His nation may despise Him . . . but His mother stands there . . . at the foot of His cross. Who can measure those hours of sorrow and suffering as the sword was slowly drawn through Mary’s soul?”

At the foot of the cross is where we see the fulfillment of the words of Simeon’s prophecy.

Remember Jesus as a baby in Luke 2:29-35, taken to the temple by His parents to be presented to the Lord.

Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Maybe she could not understand, but she could love, like only a mother, can love a son.

“Woman, behold your son.”

He looked to the one standing next to her there at the foot of the cross.

There, next to Mary, stood John, one of Jesus’ closest friends.

The evening before, as Jesus had gathered His disciples in the Upper Room to celebrate the Last Supper, John, along with the other disciples had pledged their allegiance to their Master, even if it meant following Him to death.

And yet, when push literally came to shove in the Garden where Jesus was arrested, John joined the others in running off into the safety of the night.

But now he’s come back, standing at the foot of the cross, head bowed in shame? Perhaps.

Feeling terrible for letting Jesus down? Probably.

Wondering if Jesus would forgive Him or ever trust him again?

“Son, behold your mother.”

Strange words to come from Jesus at that moment don’t you think? John turned around and looked and yes, there was his mother, the wife of his father Zebedee, standing further back in the crowd. What did He mean, “behold your mother.” But when he turned and looked at His Master again, John perceived Jesus was referring to His mother, Mary.

They had been standing there for some time . . . two by the foot of the cross. His mother and one of His best friends.

Each with his or her own particular need. And Jesus, even as His life is slipping away, He speaks to each A WORD OF COMPASSION.

Mother, you may be fearful about the future about where you will go, where you will live, who will look after you. Mother, behold your new son, John. From now on he will look after you, he will give you shelter, and care for you trust him, mother, as you would me.

John, you may feel like you failed me, let me down, ashamed because you ran away when things got tough. You wonder if you can ever be trusted again with anything having to do with Me. John, behold your mother, My mother, now she’s your mother I trust you John to care for her as I would care for her.

Two by the foot of the cross.

Two different needs met in Christ, two different applications for us to draw for our needs.

First, spiritual ties can be, and in many cases, are just as strong as physical ties.

For when it came time for Jesus to say good-bye to His mother, He didn’t leave her in the care of His real brothers and sisters, He left her in the care of His spiritual brother, John.

They say that blood is thicker than water, but in the household of faith, we would do well to remember that water runs just as thick as blood, when that water is the water of baptism, which identifies us as brothers and sisters in Christ.

In Ephesians, Paul refers to the church as ‘the family of God.’ It took a miracle for it to become such because the Jews looked upon Gentiles as the scum of the earth. You can imagine how Gentiles felt in return.

But now Paul says in Ephesians, in Christ, the two previously separated groups have come together into one family of God.

When families are at their best they accept one another, care for one another, respect one another, support one another, When families are at their best, they stick together and of course, it goes without saying they love one another.

Recently, I called upon my family, all of you, to pray for me. To intercede. I was on vacation in Florida when suddenly my heart went into A-fib. A-fib is pretty serious so I am told.

So instead of a cool T-shirt or a knick-knack or snow globe, I brought back with me an experience to share with all of you. It’s a One of A Kind…

Many of you have had a chance to read the email of the incident that took place in Florida, for those of you who have not, I will share the condensed version.

While I was in Florida, I went to the ER via ambulance ride from an Urgent Care a few miles away. In the ER, I was given I.V. meds to try and help flip me out of A-fib medicinally. That continued through the evening into the next morning.

In the morning, the cardio doctor planned to do a procedure that would shock my heart back to regular sinus rhythm. They wheeled me down in my bed to the area where they were going to do this. The first encounter was a nurse whose task was to shave parts of my chest to then proceed to put a bunch of stickers all over me.

As people moved in and out, they introduced themselves and continued on with their duties. Laying there in the bed, I felt a calmness about the whole thing come over me.

Now, let’s rewind to the night before; Lindsay was at my side the whole way through this. The night before, when we had some time alone, we prayed together. She asked for healing to be brought upon me. For the A-fib to flip back to normal sinus rhythm.

When it came time for my prayer, I gave myself to the hands of Jesus, and asked him to do whatever He needs with me to show His glory to everyone around us. When you are flat on your back, whatever happens is in God’s plan. I trusted like I have never trusted before. I felt a real sense of closeness, like I have never experienced before.

God was holding me in that bed. My wife on one side and Jesus on the other. Tears came to my eyes as I felt God’s love wrapped around me. Father loves me.

I pictured the cross, kneeling at the foot, with tears rolling down my face. I gave my life to Him many years ago but was reminded at this moment. Father loves me very much.

After a moment, I remember thinking or maybe even saying out loud. “God’s Got This!” Needless to say, I was very excited.

OK. Fast forward. Back to the preparations for the cardioversion procedure. I was laying there, calm… but giddy with excitement.

I know my God has something big planned and I can’t wait to see this. I was telling everyone in the room about all the people praying for me. Then the anesthesiologist came in, and after a few questions for me, he asked the nurse if I was in sinus rhythm.

She said she didn’t have me hooked up to the heart monitor yet. She quickly connected the wires to all of my stickers. Suddenly, everyone’s attention was drawn to the monitor. WAIT A MINUTE! He’s in sinus rhythm.

It was like God sent the anesthesiologist into my room to profess in the name of Jesus that I be healed. I said, “Thanks be to God”. I knew this was going to be awesome! Prayers were answered and God’s glory was shown.

Actually, you all prayed so well that 11 people from my cardio floor were released at the same time as me. Coincidence?? I THINK NOT!

To see a miracle…NOW That’s Cool. To BE a miracle! THAT’S AWESOME!

Let me say this. God’s will is His. He answers prayers. Sometimes it’s a Yes. Sometimes a No.

We pray like warriors all the time. Randy sends out emails a few times a week asking for us to join together in prayer for someone. This is a privilege.

It is an ‘awesome privilege’ to be part of a loving community of faith such as this one. It is a privilege to share together in worship, each of us coming from different backgrounds, educations, families. Each of us being at a different place on our spiritual journeys, each of us guilty of all different kinds of sin, and yet there we all stood at the foot of the cross, hearing Jesus saying to each one of us “Father, forgive them.”

It is a privilege to develop the relationships we have with one another. It is a privilege to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world for the people who live in the surrounding community.

“Let us do good to all men,” Paul encourages the Galatians, but especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

And in John 19, verse 27, “from that hour, that disciple took Mary into his own home.”

And the second application; amazing grace is extended to those who fail.

Take John for example. Jesus predicted it: “all of you will run away.” It wasn’t just Peter, John too fled when Jesus needed him the most. John wasn’t able to watch over Jesus for one hour in the Garden. And when things got hot, he was off and running.

But here he is back by Jesus side – well.., at the foot of the cross, too late to do anything about it, but he’s there. And because he is, John receives a blessed commission.

Am I speaking to any this morning who have wandered away from the side of the Savior?

Perhaps, in an hour of trial, we denied Him. Perhaps, in a time of testing, we failed Him. Perhaps in a moment of complacency, we took Him and His claim upon us for granted.

Here is a word of compassion for you.

Christ did not rebuke John when he returned to the foot of the cross. Instead, His wonderful grace bestowed both trust and the awesome privilege to care for the mother of God. That can happen right now, if you are ready.

For some of you who have never accepted Christ and His death on the cross, and to be forgiven of all your sins. Now’s the time. Don’t wait another minute.

Run to the arms of Jesus. He is waiting for you. He wants to wrap you in Love and help you with forgiveness. Sometimes forgiving ourselves is the wedge that keeps us from letting God and others forgive us. He was hung on that cross for just that reason. For YOU! He forgives you. Ask Him into your life.

And those of you who made that decision at some point in the past, but for whatever reason, you’ve wandered away… A prodigal son? Daughter? Today you can come back home where you belong. Come Home Running.

Accept the ‘awesome privilege’ and ‘high calling’ of caring. Not for the mother of God as did John, but to care for your brothers and sisters. The children of God.

We are the children of God, brothers, and sisters TOGETHER. We have been saved by the blood of Christ, washed clean and pure in His mercy and grace. And we share the same destiny with each other . . . heaven. Think what a glorious day it will be when all of God’s children are TOGETHER forever!

In his book The Wisdom of Tenderness, Brennan Manning tells the following story:

Several years ago, Edward Farrell of Detroit took his two-week vacation to Ireland to celebrate his favorite uncle’s 80th birthday.

On the morning of the great day, Ed and his uncle got up before dawn, dressed in silence, and went for a walk along the shores of Lake Killarney. Just as the sun rose, his uncle turned and stared straight at the rising orb. Ed stood beside him for 20 minutes with not a single word exchanged.

Then the elderly uncle began to skip along the shoreline, a radiant smile on his face. After catching up with him, Ed commented, “Uncle Seamus, you look very happy. Do you want to tell me why?”

“Yes, lad,” the old man said, tears washing down his face. “You see Father is fond of me. Ah, me Father is so very fond of me.”

Lord as we conclude this time of corporate worship, please remind us that our worship doesn’t end inside these four walls. That every breath we breathe comes from you and your grace. Help us to remain in constant prayer for the brothers and sisters in our family of Christ. So that they are lifted up to you. Help us to forgive ourselves and others, removing that wedge that separates us. For we are one body in Christ’s church. Let the children come to you. Let it be said of us that the Lord is our passion and marked by forgiveness.

James Brandenburg

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