April 03, 2017
From the desk of A.J. Higgins
Cries from Calvary – 2
“Woman behold thy Son! … behold thy mother!”
John 19:26, 27
Each of the Lord’s expressions while on the cross reveal fresh gleams of the perfections of His character and heart. If in His first, His request for forgiveness, we see His Desire for men; and, in subsequent utterances His distance, dependence, devotion, and diligence in the will and work of God – in the exchange between the Lord Jesus, His mother, and John, we see His Dignity in a remarkable manner.
We are often reminded that John is the Gospel of the Burnt Offering. One of the victims allowed in that offering was the turtledove, reminding us of the sensitivity that would mark the Lord Jesus in His sufferings. He was not only marked by strength (the oxen), and spotlessness (the lamb), but by a sensitive nature that never was hardened by sin or by the evil of men perpetrated upon Him.
But His sensitivity as not only toward what He personally would suffer; He was sensitive to what a mother’s heart would experience. The “sword was piercing her soul” (Luke 2:35), as Simeon had prophesied. Conscious of how great her grief would be, the Lord Jesus requested John to take her away from the cross and the scene of His sufferings. It is very likely she was removed from the scene of His anguish as we read that John took her “from that hour” (John 19:27). How tender He was even in the hour of His greatest sorrow! He never thought of Himself.
But His sensitivity was equaled by His sense of responsibility. As far as the record of Scripture, up to this point in time, none of His brethren believed in Him (John 7:5). It was into the care of someone who could empathize with her in her grief, a fellow believer, that the Lord Jesus committed her care.
No earthly responsibility was left unattended. The greatness of the work being accomplished did not relieve Him of earthly obligations. What confidence He expressed in John! I wonder if there were evenings when they sat together and Mary would recount to John some of the boyhood experiences of the Lord Jesus. What makes that even more remarkable is that the only Gospel writer who would have had an opportunity for intimate knowledge of those early years does not write of them. To Him, so transcendent was the Son, that He is occupied with the glories of His ministry, life, and death.
The question may arise as to how we are to understand Psalm 69:20, “and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” There were women surrounding the cross including Mary. Were they not there to show pity and provide comfort? And what of the daughters of Jerusalem in Luke 23, were they not showing pity?
Despite the tears along the way and the attendance at the cross, not one there, including Mary, understood the import of the event. Not one knew what was occurring while the Lord Jesus was on the tree. To the daughters of Jerusalem who lined the via dolorosa, it was sorrow over a Jewish man being crucified by Roman soldiers. To those at the foot of the cross, it was One they loved being taken from them. But the true depth and purpose of His sufferings – no one could pity or comfort Him. Alone, His sensitive soul which felt for all others, endured and felt the fullness of the crushing blow from the omnipotent hand of Jehovah.
Can you link the other burnt offerings animals – the oxen, lamb, homing pigeon, with the utterance of the Lord Jesus in John 19?