Thursday, 5 April 2012

Third word on the cross

I didn’t manage to post the third word yesterday so I’ll try and post the third and fourth today. Jesus’ third phrase on the cross is specifically addressed to his mother:

“Dear woman, here is your son.” (John 19:26)

It’s a phrase which shows us that Jesus’ compassion extends not just to his tormentors and to those who are dying with him but it also focussed on his family, specifically, to his mother.

We are not really told in the Gospels what had happened to her husband, Joseph who seems prominent early on in Jesus’ life, but seems to disappear as Jesus grows up. It is likely that he is dead by this point although no one is quite certain. Whatever has happened though, Jesus seeks to ensure that in his absence, Mary will be protected and cared for. He thus turns to the only male disciple who hasn’t run away from the place of the crucifixion – the Apostle John – and asks him to care for his mother.

Mary’s presence at the cross, therefore adds a profound sense of humanity and horror to this crucifixion scene...
Humanity in that by her presence, we are reminded that Jesus was a real human being, a man who had once been a boy, a man who had once been carried in Mary’s womb. I’m sure that like every littl’un, there must have been scraped knees, colic, many sleepless nights and even Mary waiting eagerly some evenings for Jesus to return home! Mary’s presence at the cross reminds us of Jesus’ humanity.

But in addition to his humanity, her presence at the cross also reminds us of the horror and anguish of Jesus’ death. Bringing up a child has its trials and pains and every parent knows that (as we’ve discovered with our first baby). But despite the many trials associated with parenthood, no one ever hopes to witness the death of their child. Mary’s presence at the cross pictures for us one of the most painful, one of the most difficult of all human experiences for anyone to ever have to go through... Just thinking of it makes the heart shudder!

Now in what way do these two things (the humanity and horror of Jesus’ death) help us view Good Friday as being good? Well these two things help us never to forget that Jesus was a real human. Jesus was a real man, true flesh and blood, a son of a mother, an actual person who endured unbearable agony as he faced a gruesome death, with his own mother watching close by.   All of which shows us that our God isn’t some high and mighty being out there who doesn’t care or doesn’t understand our world. Our God isn’t like the rich and powerful of our day who haven’t a clue what the common man goes through (think our current breed of MP’s) – they don’t really know the pains, the struggles and the hurts that most people go through but not so with our God.

Our God is a God whose hands and feet have encountered the mess and rough of this life. The God of Scripture is a God who understands pain, a God who knows what it’s like to feel the incredible pain that comes as you say a teary goodbye to a close relative on the verge of death...  Our God can draw near to us because He understands pain and has himself experienced great suffering. Later on in the Bible we read this about Jesus:

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

That is our God – he has suffered and experienced pain so he understands and can help us when we are suffering and in pain – what a Saviour – he understands, he knows, he cares.

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