We all know the scenario:
Christ has endured suffering, pain and anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, is taken before unrighteous judges to be punished, is spat upon and ruthlessly hung on the cross.
Amidst this pain, His thoughts turn to His mother, worrying about her well being-
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”
Even though the Savior of the world had just experienced the utmost torture of body and spirit, he was concerned about His mother as he hung on the cross, awaiting His imminent death.
One would think that Christ, being the Eldest child of Joseph and Mary, would request that James or Jude, two brothers of the Savior would be the ones to take care of Mary.
So why does He choose John?
Some scriptures give us insight into this strange occurrence:
In John 7:1-5 it reads:
“After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand.
His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judæa, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.
For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world.
…For neither did his brethren believe in him.”
The last verse indicates that his siblings did not fully understand their Elder brothers’ role as the Savior just yet. It wasnt until after Christ was resurrected did they understand, more specifically His brother James- “After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles”
Jesus knew that He needed a spiritually strong person to take care of Mary because of the trauma witnessed at His death. It’s my personal opinion that although James and Jude were apostles, closest to Jesus in the familial sense, they didn’t fully understand His role as the Only Begotten Son of God.
John, we find out from the very first verses as he spoke of Christ and His role as Savior and Redeemer in the preexisence, also throughout the book of Revelation, outlining the events proceeding His triumphal return, that he knew, really knew who Christ was. In his own words he stated- “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
John frequently is referred to by the Savior Himself as “My beloved”, so it should come as no surprise when Christ charges him to care for His mother. He must have trusted John over all others, knew that he would be her guardian, and keep her safe.
Another reason he may have been chosen was the fact that John was given the gift of tarrying until the Saviors Second Coming-
“Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true”
John was given the gift of never tasting death, a gift only given to him. The other 11 apostles suffered early deaths, most of them public executions, and we know the Romans were unhappy with Christian practice at the time, viewing Christ and the apostles as a threat, most likely hunting down anyone and everyone close to Jesus, including His mother.
Mary was cherished by Christ, He loved her and wanted the best for her. Was John a wealthy man? No but he was a spiritual giant who was full of charity and kindness. We can see that in his testimony throughout the gospel of John.
“Woman, behold thy Son..” paints a deep and profound doctrinal picture. Yes Christ was pleading with Mary to, from now on, look to John as her own, but I might venture to say He may have also meant “Mother, look at Me.” Roman soldiers and unbelievers were also there at Calvary, mocking Christ as He suffered, so Jesus may have been trying to get her attention away from them. Some of the last words spoken before Christ’s death may have been a declaration of love from a divine Son to His mother, telling her not to fear His death, for He would rise again. I would also even go so far as to say that Christ was speaking to his Divine Mother as well. Telling them, in effect, “I have done what was asked of Me, look and see who I have become.”
We often describe “looking to the Savior to live” in the spiritual sense, so it’s possible He was imploring His mother Mary to look at Him, so that she may live on, at least until He rose again, giving her courage to face the tough road ahead.
Thank heaven for our mother figures in our lives and for their never ending love. The world needs more of it, now more than ever.