Mary + John
“standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister,
Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her,
he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’” (vs. 25b-26)
In this passage, Jesus years of ministry come to an end. He has lived as perfect love in the form of a human. He has poured out the love of God. The result of Jesus self-giving is tragedy. His love was misunderstood and rejected. His love was deemed criminal and so Jesus was hung on the cross. Yet, even in the pain and tragedy of the crucifixion of God’s Son, love persists and is evident (as is always the case with God).
Here on a dark day as Jesus is dying, having been betrayed and abandoned by those closest to him, there are a few gathered who understood and received his love. Three women and a disciple stand beneath the cross. I imagine they are huddled close with arms around one another for comfort and weeping together. I can picture them not wanting to look upon the grisly sight of their loved one dying and yet not being able to take their eyes off of him watching for his breathing and listening for his few words. Certainly, they must have been praying-uttering familiar Psalms and praying the prayer he had taught them to offer. In his pain, Jesus looks and beholds this little group. He sees his brokenhearted mother and friends. He offers that John will now be his mother's son and care for her. He offers to John his own mother to now be a mother and comfort to John. A beautiful act of compassion, grace, and love spoken in the midst of tragedy.
It may have been hard for Mary and John to accept Jesus words. I can imagine Mary thinking to herself “I don’t want a replacement son, I want my firstborn.” I can imagine John thinking “I am honored to care for your mother, but I’d rather that we could continue as we have in ministry and that you would be around to care for your mother.” There must have been sweetness and a sense of blessing that Jesus spoke to them along with bitterness of knowing his death was at hand and therefore warranted this provision of care. It must have been sweet to once more hear words of perfect love and care and bitter to know that this perfect love was costing him his life.
In Romans, we read that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Even on the worst days of our lives when our efforts of love end in tragedy, the love of God yet is present. Even when we experience death and great loss and grief and anguish, yet the love of God can be found. Even when it feels bitter sweet there is still the sweetness and beauty of God’s love with us. Even when it is hard to gaze upon and difficult to hear, Jesus speaks into our lives words of grace and blessing and healing. Even when it is so dark that we can’t glimpse what is next, Jesus offers hope and provision for the coming moments and days. Remember you are not alone. Huddle together with your Marys and Johns and listen for a word of perfect love that Jesus is speaking just for you.