“John, Behold Your Mother!”
“John, Behold Your Mother!”

“John, Behold Your Mother!”

“John, Behold Your Mother!”

Scene from “The Passion of the Christ”

[Thanks to my brother-in-law, Paul Day, for inspiring me to look more into this topic!]

Around this time of Easter, I always enjoy reviewing all the various Scriptures pertaining to the “Last Week” – that is, the events beginning with Palm Sunday up through Jesus’ resurrection. I find it interesting how each Gospel gives different perspectives into those events.

John’s Gospel actually dedicates almost nine out of twenty one chapters to Jesus’ last week (chaps. 12-20). John also records the most about Jesus’ words, especially His last conversations with His disciples (chaps. 13-17). It surely can’t be coincidence that both John’s Gospel and his first Epistle begin by referring to Jesus as the “Word of God.”

This is the passage in John that I am pondering right now:

When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”
Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

John 19:26-27

Since John was the disciple most intimate with Jesus, it does seem somewhat natural that Jesus would commit Mary’s care to John. Nevertheless, this passage does lead us to wonder why Jesus even needed to worry about Mary’s care since He did have younger brothers and even sisters (Mat 13:55-56; Mark 6:3).

There are two details to consider that make it easier to understand why Jesus committed the care of His mother to John.

  1. Joseph, Mary’s husband, had died.
    Joseph is no longer mentioned after the incident where Jesus was left in Jerusalem for more than 3 days (Luke 2:41-52). The general thought is that Joseph most likely did not live to see Jesus’s ministry which began at age 30. So Mary definitely was widowed and needed someone to care for her.
  2. The unbelief of Jesus’ half-brothers.
    Sadly, Jesus’ own brothers did not believe in Him. Just imagine what it was like growing up as younger siblings of the “most perfect kid” in the family. Can’t you just hear Mary shouting, “Now, James, Joses, Judas, and Simon, stop that right now! When Jesus was your age, He would never act like that. Why can’t you be more like Him?”
    • His “family” (as ESV and NIV translate it) seemed to think Jesus was “out of His mind” (Mark 3:20-21).
    • Jesus was not even accepted in His own “home town” of Nazareth. He said, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” The people there did not believe. Curiously, Jesus could not even do many miracles there because of their unbelief! (Mark 6:1-6).
    • Not only did His brothers not believe in Him, they also mocked Him (John 7:2-10).
    • None of Jesus’s family, except Mary, was present at the Jesus’ Crucifixion (Mark 15:40; John 19:25-27).

So, it makes perfect sense that Jesus would have asked His John to take care of Mary. According to history, John stayed in Jerusalem and cared for Mary until she died.

In my studying, there is one interesting side point about James, Jesus’ half brother, that I never thought of before.

First of all, it needs to be clarified that there are actually three people close to Jesus who were named “James” –

  1. James the brother of John, the sons of Zebedee, whom Jesus nicknamed as the “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). Of the three “James” in Jesus’ life, this James, together with Peter and John, was the closest to Jesus. Sadly, James the son of Zebedee, was killed in Acts 12 by the evil King Herod (Herod was struck dead by God for his pride later in the same chapter).
  2. James the son of Alphaeus, also called “James the Less” (Mark 3:18; Mark 15:40). Not much is mentioned about this James. It is interesting that James the Less’s mother (whose name was also Mary) was with Mary the mother of Jesus and John at the Crucifixion (Mark 15:40)
  3. James, the half-brother of Jesus, would have probably been the oldest of Jesus’ siblings. Together with his siblings, James did not believe and even mocked Jesus, but something must have drastically changed because he was part of the 120 in an upper room praying until the Day of Pentecost. In fact, all three of these men named “James” were in that upper room praying (Acts 1:12-14). Not only that, but this James actually became a very important leader in the early church. He also wrote the New Testament epistle of James.

Because of James, Jesus’ half brother, one of the biggest dissensions in the early church was resolved (Acts 15). A contentious issue had arisen after Peter had preached to a Gentile (Cornelius) who consequently got saved, then baptized in the Holy Spirit (they broke out speaking in tongues right in the middle of Peter’s sermons!), and then baptized in water (Acts chaps 10,11). While the council in Jerusalem seemed to be at a stalemate even after hearing Peter’s amazing explanation of how it all happened, James suddenly received a revelation from an obscure Old Testament prophecy about God raising up David’s tabernacle again and Gentiles then seeking God (Acts 15:16-17; Amos 9:11-12). With this revelation, the entire debate was resolved! And guess what! All of us believing Gentiles are now a part of God’s plan for His people today! Amazing! (How awesome it would be if church boards solved all their problems and quarrels with a Holy Spirit inspired revelation from God’s Word!!)

Finally, there’s one more thing that I gleaned from pondering on Jesus’ last words on the Cross concerning Mary and John. I just could not stop wondering what Mary’s son, James, especially since he became a believer and a church leader. I wonder what he must have felt about Jesus (his older half-brother) deciding to hand the care of their mother over to John – especially since he would have been next in line (after Jesus) to shoulder that responsibility.

Scripture clearly teaches the importance of caring for widows and the elderly. Obviously, this responsibility weighed so heavily upon Jesus’ heart that even during those final excruciating moments upon the cross, Jesus made the extra sacrifice to properly delegate the care of Mary.

And, yes, James got it! He definitely understood that passion that Jesus felt on the Cross and his understanding is unveiled in his epistle where he taught that loving care and concern for widows is what “pure and undefiled religion” is all about:

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

James 1:26-27

Wow! What started out as a little bit of pondering took me by surprise with what I discovered in God’s Word. What a treasure the Bible is for is! I believe God has so much more in this “Living and Abiding” Word of God for those who take “glory” in searching it out.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

Proverbs 25:2

And the Bible indicates that we are “kings” and “noble-minded” when we diligently seek and search out truths in the God’s Word:

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

Acts 17:11

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: