Today is Good Friday in the Christian calendar, the day that commemorates when Jesus Christ was crucified.
We had a service in church this morning that looked at the last seven sentences that Jesus spoke during the time on the cross, and members were asked if they wanted to provide a reflection on them. I wanted to speak and I was given the sentence “Woman, behold your son; son, behold your mother”. It was the third sentence Jesus spoke, and he said it to John his favourite disciple and Mary his mother.
The video at the end was also used during the service and formed the basis for our reflections. The text below is my reflection on that piece of scripture. I have written it as it was intended to be spoken, and the pauses are written into the text. God bless you.
Behold your son: behold your mother
If you have children you’ll know that feeling…when they are learning to walk and they bump into things…when they fall over and skin their knees or split their lip…when you see them leaning over the bannisters at the top of the stairs and your heart disappears into your stomach as you reach out to try to stop them hurting themselves.
Later on, when they are beginning to find their own way in the world and you stand by watching them mess up friendships…make mistakes at school…get frustrated because they don’t understand some bit of homework or something and you reach out to try and rescue them from the pain of their misunderstanding.
Each time they are ill and your sleep is disturbed with endless trips to the bathroom either to rub their back or to clean up after them… or to change their bedding after little accidents.
As teenagers, struggling with the hormone soup raging through them…wishing desperately that you could take some of that angst from them and getting upset because *they* are upset.
You feel proud of their mini triumphs and successes, and as you see them grow, you are happy that they are beating their own path, wondering at where that special wisdom they have all of their own came from.
You can imagine how Mary felt at the foot of the cross that day… proud of her son because he is fulfilling his destiny…yet…horrified at the torture he has already been through…living through every agonised breath with him, knowing that she couldn’t take him in her arms and comfort him as she would have done when he was a child…knowing that there was only one outcome here.
Behold your son.
The agony of your heart is up there…nailed to a cross…laid bare…his flesh is your flesh…he is dying…and you can do nothing but stand there with him.
And yet… in the middle of this agony…your son speaks. His concern is for you.
He knows that after today, without him, your life is over too…no one to look after you, no one to take you in, no one to feed you or clothe you, no one to provide shelter for you, no one to care what happens to you. And he speaks…
Behold your son: Behold your mother.
Words spoken to John, his closest friend…and to Mary his mother.
He is handing over the status of “son” to John, effectively pairing Mary together with him as mother and son so they will both have a future.
A chance at living life.
A chance for Mary…avoiding certain destitution…a chance for John too, to experience the privilege of being known as Mary’s son. Urging them to adopt each other.
Just as God adopts us into his family, Jesus asks John and Mary to adopt each other for the same reason.
In the throes of his own death, Jesus puts the needs of the two people who he loves most before his own pain and suffering.
As a parent, it is the most natural thing in the world to put yourself between pain and your child.
But for Jesus, with a habit of turning things on their head, the most natural thing for him to do is to put himself between pain and his mother.