The Message (MSG)
24-27 While the soldiers were looking after themselves, Jesus’ mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.
It’s an odd thing to be a Protestant and meditating on the mother of Jesus. But, it’s Easter week.
I’ve also attended the funeral of a friend of our family this week. The son and the mother have been my friends.
The unfortunate news circulated the morning after the man’s daughter found him. At 48, from my side of the road, he didn’t get near his three score and ten I wished he had. Since I’m near the age of his mother, he had teased about how old I was. I returned the sarcasm with admonitions of, “Just wait till you get as old as me!” Sadly, it won’t happen.
Being comforted about the reality of the resurrection during Resurrection Week is like living in one of those reality shows on the television. But for the risen Lord, we’d all be hopeless.
At the funeral, the receiving line began with his daughters and their spouses, his ex-wife, and at the end, looking very small as she stood closest to the body, was mom. I made my way through the family, with hugs and tears and whispers of condolences. When I reached the mother, I was given a living picture of the scene at the foot of the cross.
The brokenness and grief appeared unabashedly in the demeanor of his mom. Her gaze returned over and over again to her son and her hands reached her chest in a pleading grip, alternating with heavy arms dangling uselessly at her sides.
“When I heard, you were the first person I thought of,” I had said, “I knew your grief would be deep and devastating.”
Of course, I was troubled for the child who had discovered her father’s body, but I knew his mom well enough to know this was going to be a deep blow.
She raised her hands to grab mine, her face swollen and red with flowing honest tears. “My son…my son.”
Her place, so near to the object of her love, was lonely. Each member of the family experienced an empty place unique to their relationship to the deceased, but hers was a solo performance. A child shares their parent with a sibling and spouses may change, but a mother’s sacrifice happens only once in that relationship. Her contribution is entirely unique.
In that moment, with her hands on mine, I saw the face of Mary.
Surely, she occupied the closest place to the cross. As John may have held her up and tried to comfort her, surely her outstretched arms were toward her son. She may have been close enough to feel drops of blood flow from the object of her love and to hear his softening breath.
My friend died from a massive heart attack. He probably could have altered diet, lifestyle, or stress to have decreased the probability of what happened. Yet, I accept that death is a reality for us all, and his death was just part of life.
His mother’s grief was not my fault, so I could leave the funeral sad but not guilty. Yet, when I thought of Mary, her pain and grief just as demonstrable, palpable, and visible at the death of her son, I was convicted.
I am guilty for His cross. I am a sinner who needed redemption, and His death provided me a way of escape. The world experienced the eternal benefit of the shed blood of the savior of the world, but Mary lost a son. And for that I am guilty.
Perhaps your faith honors Mother Mary above all women, blessed as she is. My prayer is for all of us to really see her, at the foot of the cross, be convicted of ours sins that put her Son on that hill, and then rejoice it did not end there.
Her weeping lasted only for a few nights, but then joy came one glorious morning! I am thankful we do not have to grieve as those who have no hope. Rejoice. He is risen!