What was it like Mary, to see your boy, your precious boy hanging on that cross, shamed and dying? You knew it from the beginning didn’t you, that your boy was different, set apart? The angel had told you so, but did you really expect it to end like this, you who bore him in your womb, you who cradled and cuddled him and nursed him at your breast; you who taught him and trained him, guided and disciplined him?
You watched him grow into a man and commence his ministry. You who joined him as a disciple. You knew he was marked by God for something special, but could you have ever imagined that this was God’s plan? Could you have imagined that the One called Jesus, your Son, would save people from their sins like this?
Thirty three years…..just thirty-three…. in his prime…
And now he hangs there limp and lifeless. Would any have felt the grief and pain as acutely as you, his mother? Could you bear to watch the cruel nails being hammered into his arms and feet? No! Could you block out the thud of the mallet and his cry of agony? Of course not! O, how you must have felt the pain. As he hung battered and bleeding, gasping for every breath on that awful cross, and you looked at him longingly, surely you whispered a prayer that it might end soon. God …end it! For three hours you watched and waited but it must have seemed like an eternity.
Was this how it was for you in those final hours? You tried to close your ears to the mocking laughter, to the insults hurled by the ignorant and the callous. You wanted to scream out, “That’s my boy, leave him alone”, but fear left you speechless. You watched as the soldiers diced for his cloak. My God, that was his only possession. Did you want to snatch that away from them, to have and hold something as a tangible reminder of his life? But you couldn’t. You watched helplessly as some demeaning soldier gloated over his win.
And then, as you watched and waited, Jesus spoke…. to you. Mustering all his strength and forcing the words through parched lips he looked at you and said, “Mother, here is your son. Son, here is your mother.” Oh how good to hear the word, ‘mother’. Even in his great agony he thought of you and in great love for you he gave you to the care of his closest friend.
Then with the gut-wrenching cry, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” he breathed his last and you knew that it was all over. Finished!
How did you cope, Mary? Did you question, “Why? Why this way, God?” Surely your grief soaked body convulsed with the pain; your heart feeling like it had been wrenched out, with numbness sweeping over you and through you.
Was it as if the world stopped at that point? Surely the darkness covering the earth could not match the darkness in your troubled spirit that Friday afternoon.
We don’t know your grief, mother of Jesus, mother of God! We cannot! Yet mothers share a kindred spirit and there is a special bond between mothers and their children. Does it help to know that your obedience and the obedience of your Son to do the will of God makes all the difference in the world to us? Does it help to know that by our response of faith to his action on our behalf his death was not in vain?
What joy is ours! Through his suffering we are put right with our heavenly Father. And like you, Mary we stand on the other side of the cross, seeking to know what he would have us do for him.
Thank you, Mary, for birthing him and nurturing him, for by his sacrifice he now gives new birth to us and nurtures us into a loving relationship with the Father. God bless you Mary!
Copyright 2019 Leo Newell (Shared on Good Friday)