“…but standing by 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 nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:25-27)
The Apostle John provides us an insight into the scene of the crucifixion of Jesus. Unlike executions carried out today in the United States, executions in ancient Israel were pubic and were intended to be a deterrent to would be criminals.
Public crucifixions also allowed loved ones to witness the execution of their beloved. Such was the case with Jesus as testified by John 19:25-26. Matthew, Mark, and Luke also mention the presence of several women, including some details about the women not found in John’s gospel (Matt. 27:55–56; Mark 15:40–41; Luke 23:49).
Dr. John MacArthur notes that, “Although the exact number of women mentioned here is questioned, John probably refers to four women rather than three, i.e., two by name and two without naming them: 1) “his mother” (Mary); 2) “his mother’s sister” (probably Salome [Mark 15:40], the sister of Mary and mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee [Matt. 27:56–57; Mark 15:40]); 3) “Mary the wife of Clopas” (the mother of James the younger and Joses—Matt. 27:56); and 4) Mary Magdalene (“Magdalene” signifies “Magdala” a village on the west shore of Galilee, 2 or 3 miles north of Tiberias). Mary Magdalene figures prominently in the resurrection account (see John 20:1–18; cf. Luke 8:2–3 where Jesus healed her from demon possession).”
The IVP Background New Testament Commentary explains that, “The evidence is disputed as to whether relatives and close friends were allowed near crucifixions; they probably were. In either case, the soldiers supervising the execution would have looked the other way in practice if they had no reason to forbid it; the prerogatives of motherhood were highly respected in the ancient world. Because Jesus may not be elevated far above the ground, Jesus’ mother and disciple can hear him without being extremely close to the cross.”
It is during this period of time that John records Jesus giving him the responsibility of taking care of Mary, Jesus’ birth mother. John does not specifically name himself but rather uses the title “the disciple whom He (Jesus) loved.”
I find it curious that Jesus did not entrust the care of His mother to His earthly brothers (see Matthew 13:54-58; Mark 6:1-6). We can only speculate as to why? Perhaps it was because Jesus earthly brothers were not sympathetic or supportive of His ministry. Maybe it was because they were in Capernaum and not in Jerusalem. Yet, it was the Passover and it seems unlikely that all His brothers and sisters would have been absent from the feast. Perhaps, it was because John was the only disciple in attendance.
Dr. John Walvoord states, “In stark contrast with the cruelty and indifference of the soldiers, a group of four women watched with love and grief. The anguish of Jesus’ mother fulfilled a prophecy of Simeon: “A sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35). Seeing her sorrow Jesus honored His mother by consigning her into the care of John, the beloved disciple. His brothers and sisters being in Galilee, were not in a position to care for or comfort her. The words of Jesus to Mary and the beloved disciple were His third saying from the cross (the first one recorded by John). In the other Gospels Jesus had already given a respite to the Roman executioners (Luke 23:34) and a pardon to one thief (Luke 23:42–43).”
At the hour of Mary’s deepest grief, Jesus did not fail her. He made sure she would be taken care of. At the moment of our deepest grief, Jesus will not fail us either. He can and will meet our needs.
What are your specific needs? Have you spoken of these needs to the Lord? If not, do so today.
May God’s truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!