Standing at the foot of Calvary’s cross, watching in quiet, agonizing grief, was a mom. Mary, the mother of Jesus, watched her eldest child die ... a most excruciating death.
Of the seven recorded sayings of Christ from the cross, the most heart-breaking... and at the same time, the most heart-warming, is this: “Woman, behold your son” and to John, “behold your mother!” (John 19:26-27, ESV).
Mary had imagined holding her son when the angel announced, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:31-33, CSB).
Months later, “she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger...” (Luke 2:7, CSB). Ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes... she held ... and beheld, the miraculous product of God’s grace.
Eight days later, at Jerusalem’s temple, Mary placed her baby into the arms of Simeon, an aged prophet, and heard him exclaim, “Now, Master ... my eyes have seen your salvation.” ... “His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary, ‘Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed — and a sword will pierce your own soul’ ” (Luke 2:29-30, 33-35, CSB).
At Calvary, Simeon’s words were fulfilled! Indeed, a sword pierced her aching heart.
“Woman, behold your son!” She gazed upon the bloodied and broken body of her son. Once upon a time, she had kissed her baby’s brow. Now, upon that brow, was a crown of thorns. At Calvary, Mary beheld “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, ESV). She saw her son, and maybe for the first time, she clearly saw her Savior.
It is worth noting that Mary was numbered with the 120 on the day of Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:14-15). Mary the mother of Jesus became Mary the disciple of Jesus.
From the cross, Jesus also spoke to John, saying, “Behold your mother!” (John 19:27, CSB).
Jesus had predicted that all of the disciples would betray Him and be scattered (Matthew 26:56). Apparently, John was the first to return. The son of Zebedee, the disciple whom Jesus loved, stood beside Mary. He heard Jesus say something like: “Care for my widowed mother. Love her as your very own.” From atop the cross, Jesus was obedient to the fifth commandment as He lovingly ministered to his mom (Exodus 20:12).
Two salient points are worthy of further contemplation!
First, behold His sacrifice! Do you see Jesus on the cross and understand that He is there to pay your debt? Mary deserved the cross! You deserve the cross! So do I. Behold the Redeemer ... your Savior.
And second, behold His compassion! See Jesus on the cross as He lovingly ministers to the needs of another. Then, go and do likewise.