Seven words on the cross (3)





[John 19:25-27]




This is the third word Jesus spoke on the cross: “…   ‘Woman, behold, your son!’  …  ‘Behold, your mother!’” (Jn. 19:26-27) 


Look at John 19:25-27: “Therefore the soldiers did these things.  But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus then 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!’  From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.”  Looking at these words, we can see that there were four women and one man by the cross of Jesus.


First, I would like to think of four women: (1) “His mother” refers to Mary, the mother of the crucified Jesus.  (2) “His mother’s sister” is “Salome” (Mk 15:40), the wife of Zebedee (Mt 27:56) who was the father of James and John, among the 12 disciples of Jesus, and the younger sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  One way to know that is to compare the people speaking in Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40: (Mt. 27:56) Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons; (Mk. 15:40) Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome.  (3) “Mary the wife of Cleopas” (Jn. 19:25) cannot be clearly and definitively identified.  There are several theories.  In Matthew 10:2-4 and Mark 3:18, there is a scene where Jesus calls 12 disciples, and there is a theory that the sons of Alphaeus are the sons of Clopas.  In other words, the name “Cleopas” and “Alphaeus” are the same person.  By comparing the four Gospels, we can guess that James and Joses are the sons of Cleopas, and since James is said to be the son of Alphaeus, we can think of another name for Clopas as Alphaeus (Internet).  (4) A woman named “Mary Magdalene” (Jn. 19:25) is a Mary who lives in a province called Magdalene, and she has been struggling with seven ghosts and has been healed by Jesus and served Jesus.  Look at Luke 8:2 – “and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out.”  These four women were not by Jesus' side from the beginning (Jn. 19:25).  In fact, at first they were looking at Jesus from afar (Mk. 15:40).  It would not have been easy for these four women, who had been watching Jesus from a distance at first, to pass through the crowd and get to the side of the cross when Jesus went to Golgotha and was crucified.


Then, who is the man in John 19:25-27 of today's text?  This one man is said by Jesus to be “the disciple whom He loved” (Jn. 19:26) (The word “disciple” here is singular).  Jesus loved Peter, John and James, especially among the 12 disciples, so that no one could follow anything except Peter, James and his brother John when the daughter of Jairus, one of the synagogue officials, died (Mk. 5:37).  When Jesus went up to the Mount of Transfiguration and was transfigured, He took only Peter, James, and John with Him (Mt. 17:1-2).  Also, when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He left the 8 disciples at the entrance of the Garden, and took Peter, James, and John and went into the garden (Mk. 14:33).  Among these three disciples, the “disciple whom He loved” as spoken of in John 19:26 is “John.”  How we can know this is that since the Apostle James had already been killed by Herod (Acts 12:2), Jesus said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” (Jn. 19:27) on the cross, so James could not support Mary, the mother of Jesus.


Also, we know that it wasn’t Apostle Peter because when Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave the world and return to his Father before the Passover, and He loved his people on earth to the end (Jn. 13:1), so He washed His disciples’ feet and said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me” (v. 21) and at that time, Peter gestured to John, whom Jesus loved, who was leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking” (vv. 23-24).  Then, where was the Apostle Peter when Jesus was crucified?  Looking at the Bible, there is no word that says that Peter, like the four women in John 19:25, was not near the cross of Jesus, and that he looked at Jesus from a distance like the women (Mk. 15:40).  It seems that the Apostle Peter was not even there at all.  After denying Jesus three times, Peter, who remembered the words of Jesus and wept bitterly, would not have followed Jesus more closely if he had truly repented? How about us?  Are we really standing by the cross of Jesus?  Or shouldn't we at least be looking at Jesus from a distance?  Like John, the four women and one man in John 19:25-26, we must follow Jesus closely and stay by the cross of Jesus.


John 19:26-27 says, “When Jesus then 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!’  From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.”  Dr. Yoon-sun Park thought of three meanings here (Park): (1) Jesus did not forget humanity even after obeying God to the end.  He fulfilled His responsibility to His mother.  He left His mother's responsibility to His loving disciple John.  (2) It is for a spiritual mission that Jesus entrusts his disciple whom He loved.  It is a critical lesson that teaches all the things in nature to be specified for what belongs to the spirit.  (3) Jesus regarded the spiritual family more precious than the blood.  So, He entrusted His mother to the Apostle John rather than to His brothers.  Spiritual communication is eternal and God-centered, so the more we focus on it, the closer we get to God.


At the cross of Jesus were four women: Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary the wife of Salome and Cleophas, Jesus’ mother Mary’s sister, Mary Magdalene, and one man, the Apostle John.  As the word of Matthew 20:28 say, Jesus did not come to be served, but rather to serve, and shed His precious blood and died on the cross to give His life as a ransom for many (to pay for the sins of many).  Look at Romans 8:35-37: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  Because of the inseparable love of Christ, we too must be by Jesus' side to the end, like Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary the wife of Salome and Cleophas, the aunt of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and the Apostle John.  And because of the Lord who loves us, we must overcome tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword (death).  Therefore, when our Lord opens the door while wearing the garment of glory, we must enter the kingdom of our Lord and live forever.