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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


John 19:25-27 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.

Jesus was viewed by a multitude of people as they passed by while traveling on the road that lay near Golgotha, also known as Calvary. These included many ordinary Jews, usually referred to as the Jewish people, but He was also viewed by some Jewish leaders - those that were members of the Sanhedrin that brought the false charges against Jesus that resulted in His death sentence. Roman soldiers - those that carried out His crucifixion as well as those that stood guard to maintain security in the area, also viewed Him. His disciples were also there witnessing Jesus' death. Now, in the lesson text, we learn that Jesus mother, Mary, also viewed His death, and with her were three other women. There was His mother's sister, who is not named here, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

Mark helps us to identify Mary's sister, the aunt of Jesus, as Salome (See Mark 15:40). She is not specifically identified, but since Matthew identifies her as the mother of Zebedee's children (Matt. 27:56), she is assumed to be the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Considering this, James and John were, not only two of Jesus' disciples, but also His cousins. Matthew also helps to identify Mary the wife of Cleophas as the mother of James and Joses. Much evidence points to this James as being known as James the less, an apostle of Christ, who is listed in Matthew 10:3 as the son of Alphaeus, especially since this father's name is also translated Cleophas. Also listed is Mary Magdalene. Much speculation has been made about the character of this woman. Some say she was the sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet as noted in Luke 7:37. Others contend that she was the woman taken by the scribes and Pharisees and accused of adultery whom Jesus pardoned (See John 8:1-11). The things we know for sure about this woman named Mary is that she was healed of evil spirits and infirmities (Luke 8:2), and she came from Magdala, a city located on the southwest coast of the Sea of Galilee. Identifying her by the city from which she came, she is distinguished from all other women named Mary that were associated with Jesus during His lifetime. These devoted women, along with others, are mentioned in a number of places by the gospel writers. They served, not only Jesus while He was alive, but also His apostles after His death.

However, at this particular time, John records that while Jesus was nailed to the cross on Calvary, He saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy Son! It is almost unanimous among bible scholars that the one referred to here as the disciple ...whom He loved was His cousin, the son of Zebedee, His apostle John. He was also identified as the one leaning on Jesus' bosom ...whom Jesus loved (John 13:23). Also, by referring to His mother by the title "Woman," Jesus was certainly not showing any disrespect for her. As a matter of fact, this same title was used by Jesus to identify her while they were attending a wedding in the city of Cana, the site of Jesus' first miracle (John 13:23). It is apparent that Jesus had much love in His heart for His mother, by whom God sent His Son into the world of humanity. We are assured that as He cared for her during His life, so He was concerned for her wellbeing after His death.

With John standing by her side, Jesus said to her, Woman, behold thy son. Jesus was not asking His mother to look at Him, but to look to John as her son. And to John, Jesus said, behold thy mother. Since he had not been mentioned during Jesus' ministry on earth, there is no evidence that her husband, Joseph was alive at this time. Most bible scholars assumed him to have died. Without a husband, or anyone else to care for her during her older years, Jesus provided for the care she needed through the disciple whom He loved, His trusted apostle John. What great love is demonstrated here by a son for his mother! After demonstrating His love for all humanity during His life on earth, this was one of Jesus' last acts of compassion for the physical wellbeing of others - He provided for the care of His mother during the rest of her earthly life, as well as her eternal life in heaven. Without any hesitation or questions, and with the same compassion demonstrated by his Master, John, from that hour ...took her unto his own home.