A mother's love for her children is distinctive and irreplaceable. To watch a child suffer is crushing and almost intolerable for any mom. In this touching scene revealed in three verses, we not only see Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the foot of her Son's cross, we also learn how Jesus cared for His mother. Even from His place of extreme suffering, Jesus was thinking of others and His love for Mary is noteworthy for us.
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.
Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.
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Some Thoughts to Take with You:
Publications referenced: Hostages to Fortune, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon; "Dear Abby" Chicago Tribune, byJeanne Phillips
Figures referenced: Warren Wiersbe; Winston Churchill
Cross references: Exodus 20:12; Matthew 20:21; Matthew 26:35; Mark 15:40; Luke 2:22-30; Luke 7:37-38; Luke 7:47; Luke 23:34; Luke 23:43; Luke 24:13-53; Acts 9:16; Philippians 4:3; 2 Timothy 3:12
Keywords: Mary, mother, mom, moms
Good morning to you. I know that your worship folder sounds like a message that should be preached in May around mother's day, how to love your mother but it happens to be the text we're working our way through in the Gospel of John. So turn in your Bibles to John Chapter 19. I hope you enjoy God's little gift of snow cap this morning on your way in. Would you join me as we pray?
Lord, we give you our very selves. We place you at the center of our meeting this morning. This gathering is about you. The words and the songs were sung about you and to you. The message we're about to hear we believe is a message from you. Help us, cause us to approach it that way in reverence, with respect and as part of our worship. In so doing, we say that what you have to say to us in the pages of scripture is all important. It's worth all of our concentration so we place ourselves before you as living sacrifices. And we pray that you would meet us on the meeting ground of the Bible and teach us your truth in Jesus' name. Amen.
A few years ago, my mother died and I miss her. I miss seeing her face. She had such a great smile, always smiled. I miss hearing her voice, her encouraging words. I miss feeling her love. I miss my dad as well, but there is something special about a bond between a mother and her sons and my mom had four sons, no girls. I was the youngest of four boys. Very special time that we, sons, had with our mom.
There was a teacher teaching her Sunday school class a lesson on magnetism and demonstrated the magnet. So she took out a magnet, described how it worked, tried to make it simple. It was a class of second graders. The next day, she offered a test. It was a written test and one of the questions on the tests was, "My name has six letters. The first letter is M. I pick things up. What am I?" Teacher was astonished that half the class got it right, the other half of class, mostly boys, put the word mother instead of magnet. Makes sense, begins with M, picks things up, that's mom.
There is no love in the world like the love of a mother. She will love her child no matter what they do. You've heard the old saying it's a face only a mother could love. That's because a mother's love is so distinct and unfailing.
Not long ago on television, a documentary hosted convicted criminals who are on their way to be executed. The date was said or it was going to be in the future. They were hardened criminals. They interviewed these men on death row and their moms. And the interviewer was astonished that practically every single mother of these criminals said, "Oh, but he's such a good boy." And the interviewer is thinking like, "What do you mean a good boy? He killed 37 people with an axe." "I know," she would say, "But he has such a good heart."
It's hard to imagine anything worse for a mother than to watch her child die. That's the worst experience for a mom. It was much worse for Mary because her son was perfect. Her son committed no crime. Her son was the son of God. And as she would stand at the cross and look up and see him bleeding and suffering, all of those thoughts would come to mind of those past experiences throughout the years. This was the child the angel spoke to me about.
This was the child announced by the angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem. This was the child that the Magi came to visit and now this. We pick it up in Verse 25. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother and his mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. Four women are mentioned. When Jesus therefore saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing by. Based on our studies so far, we believed that's John, the apostle. He said to his mother "Woman, behold your son." And then he said to the disciple "Behold your mother." And from that hour, that disciple took her to his own home.
Those verses and this story appear in no other Gospel than the Gospel of John. They are particular to the Gospel of John. It's understandable as to why John was there. John was the one that was entrusted with the care of Mary for years to come and so John writes about this. You will notice in Verse 25, the very first word of the sentence is what? What's the word? "Now." Other translations use the word "But" and that would probably be a better word. It's an adversative conjunction in the Greek language. Simply put, it's a word of strong contrast.
When the author wants to speak about something but then quickly turned the tables and contrast that with something else, he or she will use an adversative conjunction. So that's what John is doing. He has been writing about the other people at the cross. The soldiers gambling, there were four of them. But now he wants to contrast that to four believing women at the foot of the cross besides this John who is going to take her. So we have five people, four of them are women. We're going to focus on the women.
These are the final words of Jesus. All together, seven statements are made by Christ during a six-hour period that he hangs on the cross. Three of them are made in the first three hours and then there is darkness. The last four are made in the second half before his death. A person's final words are significant. I don't think of a person's first words are all that significant. I know parents think they are but they're pretty much all the same, right? I mean all of us probably said the same thing. It was variation of -- something like that. Could have been dada, mama or whatever, but it wasn't some great articulate statement. But a person's last words are significant. And that is because as people lived differently, people die differently. And they die based upon how they have lived and their belief system. And it's very telling a person's final words.
Ill never forget walking into a local hospital. A dear woman, a part of this fellowship for many years, she had hours to live. I walked in the room. It was dark. It was quiet. I walked in, I made myself known, she recognized me and she sat up in the bed, put her hands up and said "I'm ready to go." I thought great final words.
We're reading the last words of Jesus Christ. Look at it this way. While he was doing his greatest work on earth, he is uttering his greatest words on earth. Wherein words because these seven statements of Christ's windows into the heart of God.
What we are going to do this morning in looking at these three verses divide our time. We want to consider the brave-hearted women that stood there at the cross and then a broken-hearted woman who suffered at the foot of the cross named Mary. Verse 25 introduces us to whole lot. There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother. Let's just push her aside for a moment and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.
Now, would you agree that for anyone to witness a crucifixion would be very difficult? It was a bloody scene, you'd have to endure that moans and groans and agonizing cries of the victims. It would be dangerous to be there because if you're that related and that close to somebody who is a hardened criminal and suffering for it, maybe you're a suspect as well.
So it would be very difficult for anyone. But what I find interesting is that of all of the people that would be standing at the foot of the cross of Jesus, there's four and women and one man. That's a very interesting thought in and of itself. I know that when I turn on television and look at those medical programs, surgical programs, I love them. My wife can't stand them. She'll get up, she'll close her eyes, she'll want to turn the channel, she can't stay even if it's a stage setting and it's not a real blood, she just cannot endure that. So it will be difficult for anyone. What's amazing that of the anyone that is there, there are four women at the cross. In other words, in Jesus' trial and hour of need, the women are there.
Where are the apostles? Where is Andrew? Where is Bartholomew? Where is Peter? Peter was the guy who said, "Even all of these will probably forsake you but you can count on me. Ill die with you." Okay, where are you? Everybody left except one and that is John, but there are these faithful women.
Now that's not surprising if you know the Bible. There are faithful women all throughout the Bible and I just want to underscore that because sometimes, the Bible gets attacked as being this male dominant book and women are left out. Well, just read it and you'll find that's not true. We have great women in the Old Testament like Miriam, the sister of Moses, one of the great worship leaders of the Old Testament. Deborah, a political leader during the judges the time of Israel. Abigail, one of the wives of David who turned the tide on the nation. Esther, who became a queen of Persia, a Jewish gal, very influential. Huldah, who is called a prophetess in the Old Testament. Prominent figures, you turned up the New Testament, you find the same thing. Guess who the first convert was in Europe? A woman named Lydia.
What's funny about that story is that Paul gets a vision of a man from Macedonia saying, "Come over and help us." He goes to Macedonia, he finds a woman. In fact, a bunch of them at the river praying and Lydia, God opened her heart to receive the things that were spoken by Paul. And then you read the letters of Paul and he mentions not only men but women who were partners with him. Women like Priscilla, Julia, Junia, Euodia, Syntyche. If you're looking for Bible names for your daughters, you may want to skip that last one.
But of those two women, Euodia, Syntyche, Paul says to them and I quote, "these are fellow workers with me in the Gospel." That's how prominent they were. And you can carry that through our Church history and I would say even from my perspective as a pastor, I have noticed over the years that when we have projects or need volunteers that usually the first ones who respond are woman, usually the first ones to call in when a husband and wife are experiencing marital difficulty and they want an appointment with the pastor, typically the wife will call.
When author writes, how are our churches beautified, our sick tended, our poor fed, our children taught and cared for and civilized? Do you think the masculine element goes for much in these things? No, women are the church's strong rock. As they were last of the foot of the cross so they had become first at the altar.
Look back in Verse 25 and you'll notice something. Three women in that one verse are named what? Mary. So I think we can all agree that Mary was a pretty common name back name back then right? A lot of gals were named that. In fact, not just three but in the New Testament, there at least six or seven women named Mary. It was a common Jewish thing to call your daughter after Miriam, that sister of Moses in the Old Testament.
So for just a moment again, push Mary, the mother of Jesus aside and look at the next three on the list in Verse 25. First of all, standing there at the cross it says it's his mother's sister. We know that her name is Salome from Mark Chapter 16. Salome, the wife of Zebedee, the mother of James and John, two apostles of Jesus, they had a fishing business up there in Galilee. This was the woman who came to Jesus and asked a special favor. "Hey Jesus, in your kingdom, could you make sure that my two boys, James and John, one sits on your right hand, one sits on your left hand. I want to make sure they get good seats, could you do that for me?"
Of course the other guys found out that their mom had to talk to Jesus about it and they never heard the end of it. Well, she is there at the cross. Next on the list is Mary, the wife of Clopas. Well, who's Clopas? I don't know but there is the mention in Luke 24 of a disciple of Christ named Cleopas, perhaps the very hint of that word. One of the disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus that Jesus comes up incognito and has a conversation with. We looked at that last week. It could be the same one but if we were to compare the other Gospel account especially the Gospel of Mark, this gal is the mother of James the Less. Does that ring a bell? James the Less, he was one of the 12 apostles and he is called James the less, the son of Alphaeus.
Alphaeus is a Hebrew variant of the term Clopas. That might not be significant to you but what is significant is that she is called by Luke, the other Mary. I don't know, if I were Mary, I would enjoy that term, the other Mary. But because there were so many Marys hanging around, she was called the other Mary. She was the one who stood vigil at the tomb of Jesus and was there at resurrection morning dawn of first light with Mary Magdalene. So you got Mary, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. So she is the other Mary
Last on the list is Mary Magdalene. The most famous of the other Marys in the New Testament or should I say infamous. She had a sorted background. She led a life of sin and she was cleansed by Jesus and she became an ardent follower and so she is prominent on all the resurrection accounts, you will find Mary Magdalene. She is called Mary Magdalene because the town she grew up in is called Magdala. You can see the ruins of it on the Sea of Galilee today. If you come to Israel with us in a dew months, remind me, I'll point it out to you. We will take the boat ride by it, about two miles north of Tiberias. That's where Mary Magdalene grew up.
The Bible says out of her were cast seven demons. What a background she had. Jesus said, "Because she has been forgiven much she loved much." It could be that Mary Magdalene was even the woman that comes she is unnamed but in the Gospel, who comes to Jesus and cries over the feet of Jesus and wipes his feet with her hair. Because she is unmentioned, we don't know but many suspect it's Mary Magdalene.
So that's these women, these three women broken-hearted but brave-hearted women standing at the cross. Let's shift our focus to one woman, Mary, the mother of Jesus, the broken-hearted woman suffering at the cross. Verse 26, when Jesus therefore saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing by, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son." He wasn't saying of himself, look, look what they are doing to me behold your son, he was saying that of John. I'll explain why in a minute. And then he said to the disciple, "Behold your mother." And form that hour, the disciple took her to his own home. Of all of the people at the cross watching that day, this was the hardest on Mary, the mother of Jesus. That was her son. That is her son. Going through that, look how their treating him.
And Jesus has said a few things on the cross to other people. He announced to the crowd praying to his Father, "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing." To the man's crucified next to him, "Today, you will be with me in paradise." But now, he catches sight of his mother and he turns his attention toward her. As Mary is looking up at the cross and hearing this, it is fulfilling a scripture. It is actually fulfilling a prediction that is mentioned in the scripture.
Thirty three years before this when Jesus was still a baby, Joseph and Mary walked into the temple with baby Jesus to dedicate him. There was an old man in the Bible tells his name Simeon remember the story? And Simeon, it says was waiting for the Lord's Messiah and God had made him a promise that he wouldn't die until he saw God's Messiah. What would it been like to be Simeon walking in the temple everyday and you're seeing all these moms and dads with their babies and you're like going, "I wonder if that's the one? No, no, no, maybe that's the one."
Everyday looking, scanning until one day, this poor couple from Galilee strolls into the temple and it's the spirit of God that moves him toward them and I imagined Simeon walked up to Joseph and Mary and smiled real big and said, "Excuse me, do you mind if I held your baby for just a moment?" Mary is thinking, "Well, he's an old guy but he seems pretty stable. Sure, I'll let him hold my baby. He looks tame." So he takes Jesus and probably lifts him heavenward and says bursts out and pray saying, "I can die a happy man now Lord for my eyes have seen your salvation, a light to the gentiles and the glory of your people Israel."
Joseph and Mary were blown away. They're going "Huh? What? What on earth is he talking about?" And then there were more stunt as Simeon looked toward Mary and said, "This child is destined for the rise and fall of many in Israel and a sign which will be spoken against." And he said, "A sword will pierce your own soul also." Joseph and Mary walked away from that. Mary probably said, "Joe, what was that all about?" "I don't know, just keep walking, just keep walking, just keep him. Get out of here."
Mary would see a lot of troubles in her life. Herod tried to kill Jesus. They were displaced to Egypt. One day in Nazareth when Jesus preaching in the synagogue, the people tried to throw him over the cliff. But on this day as she is looking up at her bloodied crucified son, the memory of what Simeon said came to her mind. "This is the sword that he spoke about that is piercing my soul and ripping it apart." A prediction was made.
Now, I'm spending time on this for this reason. I want to speak to fellow sufferers for just a moment and I want you to take comfort in the fact that some of the greatest people in the Bible and out of the Bible have been sufferers. Job, Joseph, Jeremiah, Paul the apostle, in fact, when Paul was still Saul of Tarsus and a man came to him representing the Lord God, he said, "Go tell Saul how many things he is going to suffer for my sake." Many of the greatest people who ever lived have suffered great things and God knew about it in advance. In fact, God told you in advance that you would suffer.
I know that you have probably promises in the Bible that are your favorite. Probably, here's a couple that aren't. Number one, all those who lived Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. I don't know how many of you have that underlined in their Bible. I love that promise but it is a promise. Jesus said, "In this world, you will have tribulation." That's a promise. And the reason I am telling you that should comfort you is simply that the God that you served knew about your suffering in advance, predicted it in advance and he wants you to know that nothing, nothing is allowed to come into your life unless it first comes to his hands and he observes it and approves it and monitors it as it goes into your life.
The second thing that is note worthy about Mary here and Jesus speaking to her is the compassion that is extended, the compassion that is extended. To be crucified -- oh let me back up. To suffer physically at all in any way is a very all consuming self-absorbing exercise. Typically, people who suffer are thinking about themselves. I've been with people who are in extreme pain and all they can think about because their nerves are on edge is their pain, their suffering.
I've seen them get angry. I've seen them get short with people. I've seen them question God. What's not worthy is Jesus on the cross suffering excruciatingly the raw back that has been torn open by the flagellum is going up and down on that wood as he is trying to take in a breath. So far, all of his thoughts had been toward other people. The three things that he had said so far are for other people. "Father, forgive them", to the man next him, "Today, you will be with me in paradise."
And now the third statement on the cross, "Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother." It's amazing really. It's amazing that Jesus in that kind of excruciating suffering is focused toward others, not himself. Winston Churchill was addressing the British Royal Navy, now the British Air Force, Royal Air Force and he made a statement. It became one of his most famous statements. He says, "Never in the history of humanity of humanity have so many owed so much to so few." I would look at the cross of Christ and say never in the history of all the world have so many owed so much to one man, Jesus Christ who though absorbed in his own suffering is fully absorbed in the future of others.
The third thing to notice is that provision is made. Now look at the statement in Verse 26. "Woman, behold you're son." And the statement of Verse 27 to the disciple, "Behold you mother." You know what Jesus is doing right there? He is fulfilling the Fifth Commandment. The Fifth Commandment is Exodus 20 Verse 12 which says, "Honor your father and your mother." The way Jesus phrases this was the common way that custody would be given by one person to another. "Behold your son. Behold your mother," is from an old Jewish family law and on the cross for the very short breath that Jesus has, he utters that to give his mother into the custody of John.
Now, I have a question for you. According to scripture, Jesus has four other brothers, stepbrothers. We know that Joseph and Mary had Jesus, she was born of her, she was a virgin and was born a virgin birth. Joseph had nothing to do with the conception of Christ, but he was the caregiver and caretaker but the Bible says after Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary had a normal family. They got together, they had four boys besides sisters they're named in the Bible.
So my question is if you're going to give your mother into the custody of someone, why didn't he give them into the custody of any of his brothers? Two reasons, number one, none of them were believers yet. They become believers after the resurrection of Christ, ardent believers. Even one of them was a prominent leader in the early church but at this point, none of them are believers. So he is not going to give his mom into the hands of a non believer.
Number two, John is right there. John, the one that laid his head on breast of Jesus, who loved Jesus so much, who dared to show up at the cross. He is right there. So Mary is placed into his care and we're told then from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. Now, let me give you a couple of traditions. I don't know if either of them is true.
One tradition says that John had second home in Jerusalem. We know he is from Galilee, he's a fisherman. He had a second home at the foot of Mount Zion in Jerusalem and Mary lived there for 11 more years and died at age 59. We don't know if that's true or not.
The other tradition that I lean more toward is because John eventually will go to Asia Minor, to Ephesus and pass through a church there that he probably brought Mary with her and she died in Ephesus. That's a longstanding tradition. That's not important. Here's what's important. Jesus dying on a cross as God, He is dealing with eternal matters, but as man, He is teaching us how to love our mother. He is giving to us an example of what it is to honor your father and you're mother.
Now, the name of the message as you can see is how to love your mother. So let close by giving you four ways based on Jesus to love your mother. Number one, love her verbally. Say the words to her, "Mom, I love you." And don't say-- don't you already know that? I don't know. When was the last time you told her? Love her verbally. Jesus said, "Woman, behold your son." You go, "What kind of a statement is that woman? It sounds so aloof, so detached. Why wouldn't he say, "Dear mother."
Well, it's translated in some translations "Dear woman" it's a term of respect. It would be the equivalent of it in English saying ma'am or Missies. It's a term of honor and respect, regard. Woman, behold your son, it was tender. So Jesus using the official formula of the ancient Jewish law says, "Woman, behold your son."
Now men are funny creatures and I can speak based on my own experience as a man. I am one and I've spoken to a lot them and men are funny because sometimes they'll go, "Well, you know I never really have to tell my wife I love her because I told her that a long time ago and if I changed my mind, I'll let her know." (Laughter) Or more typical, "No, I'm not one to say it. I'm one to show it." Good for you. Glad you do that. Now learn to say it. Now learn to say the words to people that you do have around your life including your wife, including your mother. Everybody needs to hear those words. Children need to hear it, dads need to hear it and moms need to hear it.
I'm going to read you something from a soldier who enlisted in the military. He writes to Abby. "Dear Abby, I enlisted shortly after Pearl Harbor. Thirty six days later, I was on the way to the Philippines. In route, the Philippines fell to the Japanese and we were routed to Australia. Eleven days after we landed, I met the most beautiful girl in the world. On the first date, I told her I was going to marry her. I did, 18 months later. After more than 57 years of marriage and two children, my beloved Mary died five days before Christmas. Although we agreed that our ashes were to be scattered over the mountains, I found that I could not part with hers. While Mary was alive, she would frequently say to me you don't know how much I love you. I would reply, likewise. I never said I love you."
"Now her ashes are on my dresser where I tell her several times a day how much I love her but it's too late. Although I wrote poetry to her, I could not bring myself to say the three words I knew she wanted most to hear. As my dearest was dying and we thought that she was comatose, I told her there aren't enough words to tell you how much I love you. A few hours later, she whispered, not enough words and then she died. The reason I'm writing is to urge men to express their feelings while their loved ones are alive. I don't know why but many men are reluctant to express the depth of their feelings."
Men, please don't tell me, "Well, I'm not just wired that way." First of all you're not wired at all, you're a human being. (Laughter) What you mean by that is I'm just not comfortable with that and I am urging you, get comfortable with it. Figure that piece out. So love her verbally.
Second, love her physically. Here is Jesus making sure that physical provision would be made for his mother. Love her physically. When was the last time you hugged your mother if she is still alive without her saying, "Give me a hug," or kissed her, rubbed her neck? Think of it, she was the first person who touched you, she wrapped you in her womb for nine months and when you were born, you were her first priority in life. And she cuddled you and snuggled you and she wiped your little cheeks. She laid kisses on you. She rubbed your little feet. She changed your diapers. She potty trained you. She held the Kleenex so you'd blow your nose. She wiped food off your mouth probably way too long. Should have been -- and it's like you're 10 years old and she is wiping food off your face, you're 15 years she is wiping food off your face. Am I right?
So it means more to your mom if you would sit with her and grab her hand and just rub her arm. Mean more to her than flowers, candy, a dinner or a diamond necklace. Well I don't want to go too far.
Third, love her patiently. Love her patiently. At the beginning of Jesus' ministry when he was at Cana of Galilee and the wine ran out, Mary went to Jesus and said, "The wine ran out," thinking, "Do a trick." Which he did but Jesus said to her, "Woman, what is their concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come." And he did it in a different way than she suggested.
So my point is that he was patiently walking through life with Mary as he is revealing who he is to her and disciples and everybody else. Love her patiently. The toughest job in the world is the occupation of being a mom. The commitment to motherhood is astounding. I so admire mothers. My hat really goes off to working mothers. One of the worst mistakes a man can ever say to a woman is do you work or do you stay at home? As if staying at home isn't work. The only worst thing you can ask a woman is how far along is she when you're not even a hundred percent she is pregnant. Bad for him.
Fourth and finally, love her honorably. Love her honorably. On the cross, Jesus is honoring his father and his mother. Exodus 20 Verse 12, love her honorably. And if you were to say, "Well, I would but she was never very honorable." Go back and read the text in Exodus. There is no condition attached to it. It didn't say love and honor your father and your mother if they're honorable, if they're cool, if they're nice, if they bought you the car when you were younger. Just honor your father and your mother, period. There is attached and it's the only commandment that attaches a promise to it. That you may live long on the earth and enjoy the land that the Lord is giving you.
So what are the examples we have of Jesus dying on the cross as God enacting the greatest sacrifice and transaction and humanity is man teaching us how to love and honor and respect and be patient with mom?Would you pray with me? Lord, help us to never to be too busy for important relationships. To never hold back words of commitment or comfort, words of love from anyone. Especially, help us to never be too busy for mom. Lord, we thank that if you could take the time and you would make the effort for Mary on the cross at your death, help us to love our mother, significant others in our lives while we have them in our life. You said that all men will know that we're your disciples by the love that we have for each other and I pray that that would be shown especially in the love in our families. Help us Lord, bless that in Jesus' name. Amen.