16.01.15 Jn. 19:25-27
JESUS PROVIDES FOR MARY, HIS MOTHER
25 Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved standing there, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
While Jesus was abandoned by all but one of His disciples, it appears that a few women were also with Him. The number of Marys in verse 25 highlights the difficulties of determining who is who. They were:
- Mary, the mother of Jesus
- Salome, His mother’s sister who was His aunt. Salome was married to Zebedee and their two sons were James and John – cousins of Jesus.
- Mary, the wife of Clopas, who was also the mother of James and Joses
- Mary Magdalene.
The opinions of men concerning of women were not always very good. For example, Josephus and Nicholaus of Damascus seldom mention the names of women. That was the general custom of the time. Therefore, for the gospel writers to mention and name the women who were present, speaks highly of the gospel writers. Those few were some women who were without question, as dedicated to following Him as were the disciples. Women were far less likely to be arrested by the Romans than men were. At this particular time it was dangerous for any man who knew Jesus to be at the crucifixion site for two reasons:
- When men were crucified, it was always dangerous for his male friends to be seen nearby. No doubt that was the major reason the disciples had disappeared so quickly. However, female friends and family members were seldom suspect and could attend to the victim’s dying needs if they wished.
- However, in this case, it was also dangerous for anyone, including women, to be near a condemned criminal that the Jewish leaders considered a heretic. Obviously the Sanhedrin considered Jesus a heretic, or something worse, and one never knew if Caiaphas and his associates would attempt to have anyone else thrown out of the synagogue or crucified.
Nearly all of His male friends, as well as His disciples had deserted Him; those who had been like family were gone. Only the dearest of His family were there: His mother and two close friends. An early church tradition states that Clopas was a brother of Joseph, the step-father of Jesus. One must wonder, however, if Barabbas was not also there, watching intently and wondering who it was that gave him a second chance in life.
“The disciple He loved.” John used the phrase, “the disciple He loved” four times when referring to Himself as the disciple of Jesus. It was an indirect method of identifying himself. In the ancient Middle Eastern culture and likewise, in many areas there today, one does not speak directly of himself. Bragging is clearly out of order. Therefore, just as John the Baptist did not make “I” statements, Jesus simply followed cultural protocol by not making a public announcement of being the Messiah.
“He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” This third saying of Jesus reflects the love and care He had for His mother Mary. It was the responsibility of the oldest son to take care of His parents as they aged. Evidently, Joseph, the legal father of Jesus, had passed on previously, and only his mother survived until this time. As a widow, she was destined for poverty unless her children cared for her. Now that Jesus was dying, He transferred His responsibility to His best friend and soon-to-be apostle, John, who took her into his home.
Years earlier when Jesus was an infant, Mary presented Him to Simeon in the temple who said that a sword would pierce her heart. Now those words were fulfilled, as she grieved the death of her beloved Jesus. She had left her other children when she walked along up the hill known as “the Skull.” They refused to come as they could not bear additional shame, leaving her broken hearted standing by her first-born Son.
16.01.15.Q1 Concerning the care for Mary, why did Jesus break from the cultural norm?
It may surprise the reader that, evidently, Jesus was not always on the best of terms with His family. Or possibly better said, they were not always on the best of terms with Him. This is evident in several passages and is the most likely reason why Jesus passed the care of His mother to John.
The cultural norm was that the eldest son cared for both parents until they pass on and were buried. Should something have happened to the eldest son so that he cannot perform this responsibility, then that responsibility is passed on to the second eldest son. Clearly, this was not done in this case. As Mary’s eldest Son was dying on the cross, but He passed the responsibility to care for His mother on to John. Jesus bypassed His other four half-brothers and two-half sisters, because they were not there. John was well loved and Mary, we can assume, would have been more comfortable with him than with her own children. Furthermore, Jesus, with His prophetic foreknowledge, probably knew that His brother James would be martyred, so His mother Mary would be safer with John.
As for John, it was an unspeakable honor to care for her. As soon as the crucifixion was over, John took her home and cared for her. Mary and John, truly a loving “sister” and “brother” in Christ, yielded to the will of Jesus without question. There is no record of how long she lived, but it can safely be assumed that she was well provided for.
The resurrection had a dynamic effect on His family. It was then, like with so many others, that the family realized Jesus really was the Messiah. Therefore, when they had heard that the Holy Spirit of God was to come, all came to Jerusalem to receive this special gift. For Acts 1:14 reads that “Mary, the mother of Jesus and with His brothers” was at a prayer meeting that would usher in Pentecost. When Peter stood up to preach, Mary and her sons were among the 120 attendees.
. For further study on the various opinions concerning the status and influence of women in the Second Temple Period, see the excellent work by Tal Ilan, Integrating Women into Second Temple History, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999. Take note of Chapter 3 on the discussions of two first century historians, Josephus and Nicholaus of Damascus, and their comments about women. Nicholaus was the personal historian for Herod the Great.
. Jn. 13:23-25; 19:25-27; 20:2; and 21:20.
. See commentaries on Lk. 2:41-50; Jn. 2:1-11; Lk. 4:16-20; Mk. 6:4; Mt. 12:48-50; Jn. 19:25-27; Acts 1:14.