Woman, Behold Your Son

31 03 2018

At Christmastime, we see Mary, the mother of Jesus, front and center.  Beautiful depictions of the Annunciation; the birth of the baby swaddled in the manger; mama’s joy as the shepherds bow and wise men worship.  At the Christian observance of Lent, we are aware that yes, she is still very much with Jesus during his last days, but she is mentioned only briefly in the gospel stories:  Jesus from the cross giving her into the care of John as he nears death.

But I think, who better than Mary could help us put all the pieces together, in the hours and days before and after Jesus’ crucifixion?  Imagine with me, if you will, a mother’s heart as she now walks with her adult son during his last week of life, wondering, reflecting on the  troubling, strange, wonderful, ominous happenings, day by day…

The angel Gabriel had said, “He will be great and will be called the son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

The shepherds shared what the angel had said to them, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people….a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord…” and hosts of angels praised God with these words, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Simeon said, “…For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the gentiles and for glory to your people Israel…This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of may in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.  And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Bethlehem.  Egypt.  Wise Men.  Herod.  At age 12, Jesus lingered in the temple instead of staying with the family, sparking his mother’s worry and rebuke.  He went with her to a wedding, where she appealed to him to be of assistance—did she know he would procure the wine from the water jars?

Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

He healed people.  He spoke in the synagogue in Nazareth and was run out of his hometown.  He preached Good News.  He healed Peter’s mother in law and raised Lazarus from the dead.  He accused church leaders of hypocrisy and disregarded the religious practices of the day.

Mary pondered…

She was probably there when he rode the donkey into Jerusalem, people scattering palms and giving him the respect she knew in her heart he deserved.  I imagine her heart swelled with pride and she remembered the words about the king, the kingdom, the references to Savior as she heard the hosannas—“Save us!”  And surely the other things she had held in her heart, the moments shared, conversations, miracles, antagonism, close calls, all welled up.  Did she think, “Maybe the sword Simeon mentioned was figurative.  Things here—my son, the king—are as they were foretold…”

Then came Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Rumors of opposition.  The disciples, men and women, choosing their paths through the city carefully.  The crush of crowds.  Tension.  The holy celebration of the Passover.  Her son was no longer mixing with the people, publicly and joyously accepting their attention.  He was encircling himself with his closest friends, his brothers and sisters, his disciples.  He washed their feet.  He spoke of wine and blood and flesh, suffering and death.

The ponderings must have welled up.  What was it they said?  He said?  CRUCIFIXION?  Never!  That was never in the mix!  How is this possible?

In that moment, those hours of his torture, as she watched him, humiliated, bleeding, dying, she and his other followers and friends, totally helpless, I can’t imagine anything but pain and devastation filling Mary’s heart, mind, soul, no matter the treasured moments, prophecies, memories, miracles.  She pondered, all day that Sabbath, that Saturday, her heart black as night, and heavy.  Her women friends clung to her, to each other.  The men, devastated, each with their own thoughts of what they might have done.  Possibly sharing a memory or two.  Or not.  Perhaps brooding in silence, having seen the end and given up all of what they thought they knew, what they had staked their own lives upon.


And yet…There was the promise.  Perhaps at that empty moment Mary unpacked that treasure in her heart.  Held them all together, Peter, John, Magdalene, alive, barely, with Gabriel’s words:  “Do not be afraid.  With God, nothing is impossible.”  “Savior.”  “Kingdom forever.”  Clung to the treasure, to a shred of hope, to each other, even as they wept, until…


[quotes from NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, ©1985]