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John 19:25-27

25. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26. Jesus, therefore, seeing his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing by her, saith to his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27. Then he saith to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own home.

 

25. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus. The Evangelist here mentions incidentally, that while Christ obeyed God the Father, he did not fail to perform the duty which he owed, as a son, towards his mother. True, he forgot himself, and he forgot every thing, so far as was necessary for the discharge of obedience to his Father, but, after having performed that duty, he did not neglect what he owed to his mother. Hence we learn in what manner we ought to discharge our duty towards God and towards men. It often happens that, when God calls us to the performance of any thing, our parents, or wife, or children, draw us in a contrary direction, so that we cannot give equal satisfaction to all. If we place men in the same rank with God, we judge amiss. We must, therefore, give the preference to the command, the worship, and the service of God; after which, as far as we are able, we must give to men what is their due.

And yet the commands of the first and second table of the Law never jar with each other, though at first sight they appear to do so; but we must begin with the worship of God, and afterwards assign to men an inferior place. Such is the import of the following statements:

He who loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me,
(Matthew 10:41;)

and,

If any one hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, he cannot be my disciple,
(Luke 14:26.)

We ought, therefore, to devote ourselves to the interests of men, so as not in any degree to interfere with the worship and obedience which we owe to God. When we have obeyed God, it will then be the proper time to think about parents, and wife, and children; as Christ attends to his mother, but it is after that he is on the cross, to which he has been called by his Father’s decree.

Yet, if we attend to the time and place when these things happened, Christ’s affection for his mother was worthy of admiration. I say nothing about the severe tortures of his body; I say nothing about the reproaches which he suffered; but, though horrible blasphemies against God filled his mind with inconceivable grief, and though he sustained a dreadful contest with eternal death and with the devil, still, none of these things prevent him from being anxious about his mother. We may also learn from this passage, what is the honor which God, by the Law, commands us to render to parents, (Exodus 20:12.) Christ appoints the disciple to be his substitute, and charges him to support and take care of his mother; and hence it follows, that the honor which is due to parents consists, not in cold ceremony, 171171     “En froide ceremonie.” but in the discharge of all necessary duties.

On the other hand, we ought to consider the faith of those holy women 172172     “De ces sainctes femmes.” It is true that, in following Christ to the cross, they displayed more than ordinary affection; but, if they had not been supported by faith they could never have been present at this exhibition. As to John himself, we infer that, though his faith was choked for a short time, it was not wholly extinguished. How shameful will it be, if the dread of the cross deters us from following Christ, when the glory of his resurrection is placed before our eyes, whereas the women beheld in it nothing but disgrace and cursing!

Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. He calls her either the wife or the daughter of Cleophas; but I prefer the latter interpretation. 173173     ”Il y en a aucuns qui pensent que c’estoit la femme de Cleopas: mon opinion est que c’estoit plustost sa rifle.” — “There are some who think that she was the wife of Cleophas: my opinion is, that she was rather his daughter.” He says, that she was the sister of the mother of Jesus, and, in saying so, he adopts the phraseology of the Hebrew language, which includes cousins, and other relatives, 174174     “Les cousins et autres parens.” under the term brothers. We see that it was not in vain that Mary Magdalene was delivered from seven devils, (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2;) since she showed hersclf, to the last, to be so faithful a disciple to Christ.

26. Woman, behold thy son! 175175     “One who will take as much care of you as if he had been your son.” — Beausobre. As if he had said, “Henceforth I shall not be an inhabitant of the earth, so as to have it in my power to discharge to thee the duties of a son; and, therefore, I put this man in my room, that he may perform my office.” The same thing is meant, when he says to John,

Behold thy mother! For by these words he charges him to treat her as a mother, and to take as much care of her as if she had been his own mother.

In refraining from mentioning his mother’s name and in simply calling her Woman! some think that he did so, in order not to pierce her heart with a deeper wound. I do not object to this view; but there is another conjecture which is equally probable, that Christ intended to show that, after having completed the course of human life, he lays down the condition in which he had lived, and enters into the heavenly kingdom, where he will exercise dominion over angels and men; for we know that Christ was always accustomed to guard believers against looking at the flesh, and it was especially necessary that this should be done at his death.

27. The disciple took her to his own home. It is a token of the reverence due by a disciple to his master, that John so readily obeys the command of Christ. Hence also it is evident, that the Apostles had their families; for John could not have exercised hospitality towards the mother of Christ, or have taken her to his own home, if he had not had a house and a regular way of living. Those men, therefore, are fools, who think that the Apostles relinquished their property, and came to Christ naked and empty; but they are worse than fools, who make perfection to consist in beggary.


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