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SEVEN WORDS FROM THE CROSS III - Cry of Compassion

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작성자 최고관리자 작성일15-12-29 22:54 조회990회 댓글0건

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*In preparing this lecture in series, I have gained a great spiritual insight from Erwin W. Lutzer’s Cries from the Cross (Chicago: Moody Press, 2002).

 

<John 19: 26-27>

 

 I once underwent a simple surgical procedure.  Even before I completely woke up from anesthesia, members of the church came to visit me.  I was very grateful that they took the time to visit me in the hospital, but I could not pay close attention to every word that they were telling me.  In an anesthesia-induced tranquilized state, I was merely blinking while wallowing in my own pains.


  It is very difficult for people to think of others in while suffering in pain.  To think of others when one faces imminent and certain death is something that no ordinary person can do.  But on the Cross, Jesus is thinking about others even though He is about to die.  He is worrying about his biological mother, Mary.  Herein lies the third topic of the seven words from the Cross.


 Take a look at today’s scripture, which comes to us from John 19: 26-27.  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.” 


 A glance at this scene reveals certain Eastern, or oriental aura.  It shows the filial piety of Jesus and reveals His dutifulness as a son.  Jesus is asking John, his most beloved disciple, to look after His mother in flesh.  He is asking John to look after His mother, since she will have no one to depend on once Jesus dies at the Cross.  Therefore, He is telling John that Mary will be his mother and he will be Mary’s son.


 ​Through this, we can see the beautiful spectacle of Jesus carrying out His filial duties until the end.  But we cannot completely grasp and understand everything without looking at the special relationship between Virgin Mary and Jesus.


  In order to understand the relationship between Jesus and Virgin Mary, we need to first take a look at John 19: 23-25.  These three verses depict the Roman soldiers that crucified Jesus dividing up the clothing of Jesus amongst them.  Jews often wore five-piece clothing during those days.  Therefore, when verse 23 states that the soldiers each took a quarter of Jesus’ garment, it does not mean that each of them had a piece of clothing and that they divided the remaining clothing item by cutting it into four pieces.  Each of them took a layer of clothing from Jesus as they undressed Him before the execution.


 The only thing that remained was the undergarment.  The undergarment, or the tunic, was a piece of clothing without seams that it, it was woven from the top in one piece.  In verse 24, the four soldiers drew a straw to see which one would get this last piece of clothing, without ripping it apart.


 For Jews, the undergarment was a clothing item that mothers usually wove for their sons.  According to legends, before Jesus left home, Mary wove this garment for Him.  It was indeed a garment of love, one that was made with mother’s love.  It is not a stretch to say that while these soldiers were drawing straws under the Cross to see who would get this last piece of garment, Jesus is addressing Mary.


 When looking at these soldiers acting immaturely over the undergarment, Jesus probably felt a great rush and pang of His mother’s love over the years deep in His heart.  In fact, Mary was at the scene when Jesus was being crucified.  The fact that Jesus thinks about Virgin Mary just as the soldiers are picking straws to see who gets this last piece of clothing tells us that this undergarment brought forth a great sense of mother’s love in Jesus.  It is probably because the love of His biological mother and His mother on earth has lit up like a lantern in His head.


 So Jesus drops His chin to His chest and says “Woman, be hold your son” while pointing at John.  We must keep in mind that this “son” does not refer to Jesus, but to John, who will take care of Virgin Mary from that point.

 

 Looking at the four gospels, we do read much as Joseph, Jesus’ biological father.  According to chapter two of Luke, Jesus once disappeared in Jerusalem when He was 12 years old.   Joseph and Mary, His parents, set out to look for Jesus and find Him in a temple after a whole day of searching.

 

 After this story, however, the name Joseph disappears from the Bible.  From this, we can surmise that Joseph passed away early.  Therefore, Jesus, the oldest Son in the family, took care of His mother from an early age.


 At this moment, let’s think about what was going through the Virgin Mary’s head filled with memories of her life.  Mary knew that she was destined for a special life when she became pregnant with Jesus while she was a virgin.  She knew that she will become 

 But her life was one full of pain and anguish.  According to Luke 2: 35, when she takes Baby Jesus with her to see Simon, he predicts the following for Mary.  Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also.”  Simon foretold of a life in which her heart will ache and hurt as if a keen sword is piercing through it.  Just as Simon predicted, as the Mother of Jesus, she had to walk on a path of thorns throughout her life.


 In Matthew 2: 13-18, when King Herot tries to kill the Baby Jesus, she had to take Him to Egypt to flee.  Herot, learning that he had been deceived, killed all boy toddlers under the age of two in the Bethlehem region.  How bad must she have felt when such a tragedy took place because of her Son!


  When Jesus embarked on His work for God, the days of heart piercing pains continued for Mary.  She had to witness the countless instances in which people either derided or tried to harm Jesus.


  But the one thing that really drove a nail through the Virgin Mary’s heart was the crucifixion.  When a Roman soldier speared the side of Jesus, she must have felt as if a spear was piercing her own side.  When they pushed the crown of thorns on the head of Jesus, His forehead upon which Mary laid countless number of loving kisses bled profusely.  The hands that Mary affectionately held while Jesus was learning His first steps were nailed to a cross by a metal spike.  As a mother, when looking at such a tragic scene, her heart must have been thorn to a thousand pieces.


  As this overwhelming pain and anguish paralyzed her heart, Mary heard the voice of Jesus.  At that moment, she knew.  She knew that her mother-son relationship with Jesus the biological love between a mother and son was ending.  She understood that Jesus no longer was her Son but that He had become her Savior.


  In fact, the Virgin Mary probably could have saved Jesus on the cross.  She could have told the government officials that what Jesus had been saying all along was false.  Had she begged them to forgive Jesus since He was mentally handicapped, they probably would have taken Him down from the cross.


Or she could have cried and begged in tears to the high government officials, to ask for their mercy as a mother.  Had she done so, she could have sprung some remembrance or impulse of motherly love and changed their decision to kill Jesus on the cross.


 But the Virgin Mary believed that her Son, Jesus, was bearing this unbelievable amount of pain and suffering for the good of the mankind, for their salvation.  So she transformed her motherly love for Him into a faith in Him as a Savior.  We must not overlook this sentiment of Mary as she watches Jesus’ last moments on top of Golgotha. 


 Professor Sungbum Yoon, who taught me at the Methodist Seminary, wrote a book, titled Theology of Fidelity.  In this book, he described Jesus as the greatest Son in the history of mankind.  His filial piety was so great to His Father that He even obeyed Him to death.  But He only not fulfilled His duties as Son to God, He also served His biological Mother, Mary.


 Of course, God picked the Virgin Mary as the biological mother of Jesus according to God’s plan.  Therefore, in the Gospel of John, nowhere does Jesus call Mary ‘mother.’  He merely addresses her as ‘woman.’


 This shows that Jesus wanted to clarify and set in stone the fact that the relationship between Him and Mary was but a mere tool to fulfill God’s plan of saving mankind.  So, to Mary, Jesus is also a Savior.


 Despite all this, Jesus still carries out His filial duties as Son before He passes away.  So He asks John to take care of Mary after He no longer is alive.


 By being crucified, Jesus fulfilled His duties as Son to God.  By asking John to take care of Mary, He also fulfilled His duties to His Mother.  Therefore, the Cross can be interpreted as a filial intersection, where the vertical filial piety to God and the horizontal piety to biological mother intersect.


 Remember that Jesus is truly the One who obeyed the Fifth of the Ten Commandments, which state “serve your parents.”  As His disciples, we must fulfill our filial obligations to our Father, God, while we live on earth.  And we also must fulfill our filial duties to our biological parents.

 

Remember that even as He was drawing on His last breath, Jesus was thinking about His biological mother.


 When Jesus was being crucified on the cross, all His other disciples ran away.  But, according to today’s scripture, John, for some reason, was at the crucifixion.  John, like James and Peter, probably started to run away first.  Then, he had an epiphany and returned to the site of the cross.


  John was the one who was embraced by Jesus from an early age and the object of His great love.  Perhaps the love that he received from Jesus led him back to Jesus.


 Regardless, John received the great glory from Jesus that even none of Jesus’ own siblings or disciples received.  He was to live the rest of his life with the Virgin Mary as his mother.  As a disciple of Jesus, what could be a greater blessing?


 The important thing here is the task levied on John.  The task that Jesus surely had to have done, had He remained alive on earth, now fell in the hands of John.  Therefore, the same task that was given to John will probably be given to us as well.  We need to do those things that Jesus still had to do on earth.


 Therefore, Jesus tells us through Luke 14: 27, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”  Jesus is asking us to bear the cross that he has borne.  The cross given to John to bear was the task of taking care of the Virgin Mary as his own mother.


 If we stand at the bottom of Jesus’ cross today, the Lord will ask us of the same favor that He asked of John.  “Behold, your mother.”  He will ask us to look after the Virgin Mary.

 

Then who is today’s Virgin Mary?  Who is the biological mother of Jesus today?  The surprising answer lies in Mark 3: 33-35.  Mary, mother of Jesus, and his siblings brothers and sisters were looking for Jesus.  People told Jesus that His family was looking for Him.  To them, Jesus sternly asked, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?”  “Here are My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” 


 If we do as Jesus has said, as long as we do the will of God we will be Jesus’ brother, sister, and mother.  Then who is the Mary and the brothers and sisters of Jesus today?


 When we help those in need with love in our hearts, they become our siblings.  When we visit and help the elderly who are sick, they, in fact, become our Mary.  When we fulfill our filial duties to our mothers in earnest, our mothers become Mary.


 This is why Jesus says the following in Matthew 25: 40.  “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”  If we sacrifice ourselves and provide generosity to our neighbors, Jesus will be with us.


 In America, there is only one answer to the question, “who had the most profound effect on your religious beliefs?”  Regardless of the age, gender, and religion of the person asked, the answer is always, “my mother.”  When dying, most people yell or whisper out “mother.”


 To Jesus, His biological mother was important.  That is why He was concerned about her well being even moments before His own death.  Through this, we witness the great filial piety of Jesus.


 Now is the time for us to do our share for our own parents.  And always keep in mind that the good things, the generous things we do for the neediest and the littlest people around us is the true path of serving the Virgin Mary, as Jesus had asked.  Amen!

 

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