Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Although all Jesus’ disciples abandoned him at the time of his arrest, by the time of his crucifixion some of his followers had returned, along with his mother and some of the women who had supported Jesus’ ministry financially (Luke 8:1-3). This same group of women would be the first to arrive at Jesus’ tomb, and thus the first to witness his resurrection (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10). But as wonderful as that blessing from God was, and as praiseworthy and admirable as their devotion to Jesus was, the focus at the cross must be on Jesus.
As Jesus hangs on the cross, he sees his mother anxiously watching him. Even now, even yet, does she hope that Jesus will save himself and come down from the cross? She has seen him do many incredible miracles; couldn’t he do one more? But as Jesus looks at her, he addresses her as “woman” (still a sign of respect), not “mother.” And he tells her that the disciple he loves (John) will now be her son. Mary now knows that Jesus is taking his leave of her, and the sword that Simeon spoke of now pierces her heart.
But this is more than just a son taking care of his mother. “The suffering of Jesus in seeing Mary suffer, and especially his wonderful love—a Savior’s concern for one of his own, far more than a son’s concern for his mother—these are the things on which the emphasis should be placed” (William Hendriksen). Jesus is far more than a son to Mary; he is her King and Savior and Lord. And even in his agony on the cross, he makes provision for her.
“If Mary needed to stand as a sinner at the cross, then you need to stand as a sinner at the cross. If Mary needed Jesus to die for her sins, then you need Jesus to die for your sins” (Philip Graham Ryken). Sinner, here is your Savior. Believe in him, trust him, worship him, and serve him. He will never let you go.
My faith would lay her hand
on that dear head of thine,
While like a penitent I stand,
and there confess my sin. (Isaac Watts)