Christ’s Second Word From the Cross: His Testament to Mary and John
“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 19:26-27
A mother’s love is no small thing. She carries a gentle baby in her womb for nine months. Her very body feeds and cares for this infant that she calls her own. Naturally, she would die for the gift of life that God has bestowed on her.
But today on Good Friday, the loving mother of Jesus watches her naked little boy drip blood from a splintered cross. Every raspy breath He takes, a sharp pain stings her helpless heart. Every limb that progressively falls limp nailed upon that tree of shame, her motherly arms reach forward, and return empty once again. There is nothing this dear mother can do for her beloved baby boy. She can just watch. She can just listen.
When Jesus looks down, He clearly sees His sad, suffering mother. He recalls the first of His miracles, when His mother was there for the astounding turning of water into wine. She didn’t understand then, she doesn’t understand now, that this shameful death, this perfect sacrifice, this blessed crucifixion is exactly what Jesus’ mother needs.
“Woman,” He calls from the cross, “you will not be left alone.” “Mother,” He calls from the cross, “this disciple will stand in my place.” “Mary,” He calls from the cross, “you will be safe in a home while I am away.”
When Jesus looks down, He clearly sees His sad, suffering church. He remembers each of His gifts to her—calling, loving, protecting. She doesn’t always understand His extreme mercy and steadfast love. But Christ’s shameful death, Christ’s perfect sacrifice, Christ’s blessed crucifixion is exactly what Jesus’ people desperately need.
Because today on Good Friday, the miserable church of Jesus struggles to focus on a righteousness that comes from outside of herself. Every confused and mistaken breath she takes stings the pure, wise heart of her Lord. Every action from her kind, ignorant hands dredges up death and shame, accomplishing nothing, returning empty every time. There is nothing this wretched mother can do for the beloved Son of God. She can just watch. She can just listen.
“Sinners,” He calls from the cross, “you will not be left alone.” “Loved ones,” He calls from the cross, “a disciple will stand in my place.” “Family,” He calls from the cross, “you will be safe in a home while I am away.”
This Savior’s love for His church is no small thing. He gives up His own life so that she will live. His very body feeds and cares for the believers who still struggle on this earth. Incredibly, He died for the mother who has nothing to give in return. Yet today on Good Friday, He remembers His mother. Today, He loves His church. Today, He protects, feeds, and cares for you.
Cindy Koch is wife to Pastor Paul Koch and mother of five busy children in Ventura, California. In between homeschool and church events, she writes for thejaggedword.com. Cindy has an M.A. from Concordia Seminary St. Louis in exegetical theology
For any woman, identity is important. The question, “Who am I?” will haunt her every decision. Along the pathway of life, many will tell her a story of who she is. She might be lucky enough to hear the pure and simple truth, but more often than not she will be told and believe a variety things.