/ Nathan Eshelman

Behold Your Mother

_ When Jesus 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!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home_. John 19:26-27

During his crucifixion Jesus spoke these words to his mother and to the Apostle John. Have you ever read this portion of the Scripture and thought “what in the world is going on here?” The redemptive nature of the things that are said from the cross are clearly seen, but "behold your mother?"

Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.
Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
I thirst.
It is finished.
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Why does Jesus tell John that Mary is now his mother and then tell Mary that John is now her son? 

Jesus had brothers. Why is John the one that hears “Behold your mother?” If there are other family members in the BenJoseph home, why is John called her son?

Jesus is fulfilling the law in this text. Right up to the moment of his death he is fulfilling the law of God. The Lord Jesus Christ was required to keep all of the law and if Jesus had failed to keep the law in his active obedience we would be without a savior. God forbid!

What is the fifth commandment? The fifth command is honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

Jesus understood his responsibility to honor his mother even following his death. He is the first born and under Hebrew law and custom the responsibility was with him to provide for his mother.  He is telling John, “John, I am giving  to you the responsibility to care for my mother.” “Mother, I am entrusting you to the care of John.”

Now what about Jesus’s siblings, why are they removed from responsibility here? I think that our answer is found in John 7:5 which reads, “And not even his brothers believed in him.”

He is not going to entrust his mother's care to unbelieving brothers and sisters.  Do you see how important the community of the church is to be. The church of Christ is intended to be a community that is more important than flesh and blood. At one point Jesus asked, “Who are my mother, brothers, and sisters but they who hear God’s Word and obey it." The church is a family and this is exactly what the Lord Jesus is telling us. Through his death he is building a community and he is building a family and he is not willing to put his mother’s spiritual well-being at risk for the sake of his siblings who are unbelieving and at that time hostile.

Now Hallmark tells pastors that they need to preach Mother’s Day sermons in the month of May. My conscience is not bound by Hallmark or any other made up church calendar, as you may know, but I do think that we can see the way in which Jesus loved and cared for his mother. Not out of guilt from Hallmark, but out of the law of God, a biblical requirement to care in a believing way to a believing mother, we see the importance of children actively loving their mothers.

Jesus is fulfilling the law and John is challenging his readers with the law of God and the Christ of the law. Jesus did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it,  and to give us liberty to obey it. When we have bowed our knee to Jesus and rested on his finished work on the cross, we are free unto obedience.

And this is what John is able to do. The text tells us that from that day he welcomed Mary into his home and provided for her, he kept the fifth commandment that was entrusted to him by Jesus. He cared for Jesus’s mother by faith.

Don't love your mother because Hallmark makes you feel guilt. Love your mother because Jesus Christ has purchased you so that you can walk in the obedience of liberty. Now go call your mom.

Nathan Eshelman

Nathan Eshelman

Pastor in Orlando, studied at Puritan Reformed Theological & Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminaries. One of the chambermen on the podcast The Jerusalem Chamber. Married to Lydia with 5 children.

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