WHY THE CROSS WAS DEAR TO THEM?
Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His motherís sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. "When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ĎDear woman, here is your son,í and to the disciple, ĎHere is your mother.í From that time on, this disciple took her into his home" (Jn.19:25-27. NIV). In this passage John records about five individuals who stood near the cross of Jesus. Regrettably we know about only four individuals in detail. Jesus was not absolutely alone, but at His cross there were four women who loved Jesus and also a disciple whom Jesus loved.
Some commentators say that those days women were not considered important so that no one ever took any notice of them. So women were not having any risk at all by being near the cross of Jesus. But I donít think it is right. First of all, it is always dangerous to associate with a man who is believed to be so dangerous that he deserved capital punishment. Secondly, it is not possible to demonstrate our love towards someone whom others consider as criminal. The women dared to stand near the cross because they had perfect love towards Jesus. "Perfect love drives out fear" (1Jn.4:18).
Let us look at these five individuals and understand why the cross was so dear to them or what made them stand near the cross.
1. Mary, The Mother Of Jesus
Mary was the only woman who was present at Jesusí birth who also witnessed His death. She saw Jesus arriving as her baby and she watched Jesus die as her Saviour. Until Gabrielís unexpected visit, Maryís life had been quite normal. She had been recently engaged with a carpenter named Joseph and was anticipating her married life. But after the angelís visit, her life changed forever. What she heard from the angel, the news almost every woman in Israel hoped to hear, was that this child would be Messiah, the promised Saviour.
Mary did not doubt the message, but she asked the angel how the pregnancy would be possible, she being a virgin. It is shame to become pregnant before marriage. It is not only a shame, but also a threat to life. But still, she answered happily to the angel, "I am the Lordís servant. May it be to me as you have said" (Lk 1:38). What a beautiful acceptance! No matter what the world would think, no matter what the accusation, she said she would accept. Why was the cross so dear to her? What made her stand near the cross? What made her risk her life? Mary would surely reply that the cross was her acceptance.
In Luke 2:48-51 we find that when Jesus was taken to the temple in Jerusalem, in their return journey Mary and Joseph realised that Jesus was not with them. After a long search when they found Jesus, Mary asked, "Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You." Jesus in reply said, "Why were you searching for Me? Didnít you know I had to be in My Fatherís house?" Although these are rough words spoken by Jesus, the Bible records that His mother Mary treasured all these things in her heart. It means she accepted the word of Jesus. The cross was the acceptance for Mary.
Again in John 2:1 while Jesus was at Cana in Galilee on a wedding feast, Jesus turned water into wine. When the wine was finished, Jesusí mother said to him, "They have no more wine." Here Jesus addressed His mother, "Dear woman, why do you involve Me? My time has not yet come." Still Mary patiently tells the servants, "Do whatever He tells you." She accepted the words of Jesus. But a big part of her painful privilege of motherhood would be to see her Son rejected and crucified by the people for whom He came. So if we ask Mary why the cross was so dear to her, Mary would surely reply that the cross was her acceptance.
2. Jesusí Motherís Sister
In Johnís gospel she is not named, but a study makes it clear that she was Salome, the mother of James and John (Mk.15:40; Matt.27:56).The strange thing is that from Jesus she had received a definite correction. She came to Jesus and asked to give her sons a place in Christís kingdom. So Jesus rebuked and taught how wrong such ambitious thoughts were. Salome was that woman whom he had rebuked and corrected; yet she was at the cross. Her presence reveals her love towards Jesus and that the correction had changed her perspective. Her love reflected through the correction. If we asked Salome why the cross was so dear to her, definitely she would reply that the cross was her correction.
3. Mary Magdalene
The absence of a woman among the twelve disciples has bothered some people. It is clear that there were many women among Jesusí followers. Jesus did not treat women as His culture did. He treated them with equality; Jesus treated women as equal reflection of Godís image. These women supported Jesusí ministry with their money. Luke 8:2 says that Mary Magdalene had been possessed by seven demons. The number seven in the Bible stands for completeness. The implication is that Mary Magdalene was completely possessed and completely delivered. Mary Magdalene is a heart warming example of thankful living. Her life was miraculously delivered by Jesus when He cast out the seven demons from her. She was so grateful for the deliverance Christ had given her. When no one took care of her, when everyone left her alone, it was Jesus who delivered her from the bondage. This deliverance allowed her to stand near the cross when all fled way. She was also present on Sunday morning to embalm the body of Jesus. Mary Magdalene was the first woman to see Jesus at His resurrection. If we asked her, why the cross was so dear to her, definitely she would reply that the cross was her deliverance.
4. John, The Disciple Of Jesus
The beloved disciple of Jesus, John, was standing at the cross when all others ran away with fear. Peter, the one who said, "Lord, I will follow You until the end... wherever You will go," denied Jesus and ran away to save his life. But John stood at the cross. Jesus gave a responsibility to John. After all, John had a double qualification. He was Jesusí cousin, the son of Salome, and also he was the disciple whom Jesus loved. Jesus committed Maryís care to John, and John to Mary so they could comfort each otherís loneliness. He could not submit her to the care of His own brothers, because they did not believe in Him at that time (Jn.7:5). Even on the cross, Jesus never forgot the duties that lay in His hand. Jesus was thinking more of the sorrows of others than His own. If we asked John why the cross was so dear to him, surely he would answer that the cross was his responsibility.
My dear friend, the cross was so dear to them. For Mary, the cross was her acceptance, for Salome it was her correction, for Mary Magdalene, it was her deliverance, for John it was his responsibility. What about you and me? Only because of the cross are we proclaiming victory over sin and obtaining salvation. Let us proclaim that the cross is our victory, salvation, life, and so on.