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John is a "Tentmaking Evangelist" (Architect). Licensed and set aside for ministry by the Anchor Bay Evangelistic Association (non-denominational). Co-Founder of Kingdom Gospel Ministries, a ministry now in its 36th year with a mission to reconcile people of different racial, ethnic, educational, and economic situations, and the producer of three weekly radio programs - a Sunday morning verse-by-verse Bible Study on Radio Delaware Valley, a weekly message from current events in California, and a weekly radio drama on the Wilkins Radio network. He also has archived many, many radio programs and written articles on the Internet. John is a PA/NJ Architect with his own practice in its 43rd year working on a wide variety of projects including churches, convenience stores, residences, and academies as well as industrial enterprises. He has helped in numerous property acquisitions and worked with real estate investors. Acutely interested in politics since a teenager with many articles published over the last 55 years, he served as a guest on a Talk Radio show discussing race relations and on "It's Your Call" TV show with Lynn Doyle dealing with the subject of interethnic marriage.

Friday, March 18, 2011

JESUS, JOHN, AND MARY AT THE CROSS

Original Post Date: Sun Sep 24, 2006 READ JOHN 19:25-27 Standing near the cross were Jesus' mother, and his motherís sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, ìWoman, he is your son.î 27And he said to this disciple, ìShe is your mother.î And from then on (this hour in some translations - this moment in the Message) this disciple took her into his home. A group of women, along with the Apostle John, stood near the cross. (Later, they would move farther away and join other friends of Jesus. [Matt. 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41].) John specifies four women: Mary, the mother of Jesus; His motherís sister, Salome, the mother of James and John; Mary, the wife of Clopas (Cleophas); and Mary Magdalene. It took courage to stand there in the midst of such hatred and ridicule, but their being there must have encouraged our Lord. Note that there were four women and one man. More women than men followed Jesus. But why not more men at the cross? [[EMOTICON:SAD2]] John alone was in the judgment hall. John alone was at the cross. It doesnít surprise me that the very thing that the other disciples feared most was being identified and and targeted by the same people that were killing Jesus. Jesus said that whoever tries to save his life will lose it and whoever will lose his life for my sake will save it. So It also doesnít surprise me that John was the only disciple not to be martyred and that all the others were. Godís word does not return void. It is absolutely true. Also, note that the four women and John were all standing NEAR the cross. They were up-close and personal to that grisly sight. Later, according to Mark 15:40, there was a larger group standing AT A DISTANCE from the cross. The party of five who were close and empowered enough by God to do so did not mandate that the others who were coming go to that extent. They moved back and a larger group stood vigil. Those of you who understand the agony Jesus was going through as he bore the sins of the world will find it suppendous that he had the presence of mind to think about others. Of course, we know that Stephenís final words were of forgiveness to those stoning him, and such has been the case for the almost 2,000 years since in the case of many other martyrs. Jesus was an other-directed person, not a self absorbed person. Unlike the teaching many receive today, which preaches a Jesus wholly devoted to providing personal fulfillment to carnally minded folks, the true gospel is one of agape love. At the Passover, most of us would have been moody if not depressed knowing the cross was less than a day away. Jesus, though, looked to the need of the disciples and washed their feet, indicating his love for them and his priorities in life. As Jesus considered how to deal with the destiny of his mother, I believe he received his answer in a New York Minute. John was, after all, the disciple that Jesus loved. John was the only one who was present at the judgment. Though he fled in the garden like all the rest, unlike the others he gathered himself and stuck with Jesus through the trial AND at the cross. Jesus loved all his disciples, but when it came to his mother, only the best and most trustworthy would do. You might ask why he needed to do anything. After all, Salome, John's mother, and Mary's sister, could likely have taken care of her. Mark mentions in his gospel, chapter 15, vs. 41 that Salome, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Mary Magdalene followed Jesus and cared for his needs. Certainly Salome was up to the task. Zebedee had a great business, probably had a nice home, and after all, sisters usually care well for each other. There is no mention of Zebedee ever coming to Christ. Perhaps Salome was unequally yoked, or perhaps Zebedee was a quiet believer who subsidized the expenses of the ministry from his business. Yet Salome was a close follower of the Lord. What stands out in Markís account was that Mary, mother of our Lord was NOT listed among those who followed Jesus and cared for his needs in Galilee. Whether his rebuke of her earlier made her retire a bit from the forefront, or whatever the reason, there may have been some friction between the two, and Jesus of course would have known that. I believe a spiritual reason came into play. You remember that Mary had pressed Jesus to perform the miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. While Jesus rebuked her, he did do the miracle. Later, according to Matthew in chapter 12, vs. 46 of his gospel, Jesus was speaking to the crowd and his mother and brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Whether it was urgent or they simply wanted to divert him from his purpose we do not know, but Jesus replied that those in the crowd who did his will were his mother and brothers. This must have stung Mary, and perhaps she stepped back a bit. It seems that she mellowed over time. That was not the case with her sister Salome. Salome cared for the practical needs of Jesus, perhaps much like Martha, and like those preoccupied with the ordinary, miss the true message. Marthaís sister Mary truly understood Jesus. Salome seemed to miss the whole intent of what he was saying. In Matthew 20, and in Mark 10, very close to the Triumphal entry, Salome apparently encouraged her sons James and John to make a request of Jesus ñ one to sit on his right and the other on his left, in the Kingdom. This earned a rebuke. I believe Jesus also had in mind that his mother Mary would not push John into this kind of ambition, so he would rather have John relate to her as his mother rather than Salome. Remember Jesus' words, he who does my will is my mother and brother. It is also worth noting that Salome lived in Galilee, and from the text, John took her into his home that same hour. John must have lived in or near Jerusalem. By having Mary there, she would be in the thick of things until John relocated to lead the church in Ephesus later on. Jesus knew that a sword would pierce Mary's heart. Who better to see her through that weekend and the years that followed than the one closest to Christ, John? We must not absolutely conclude before we look at the other choices Jesus had in assigning responsibility for his mother. What about Maryís other children? James, Jude, and the others. What about her daughters? We know from other scriptures that Jesusí family, other than his mother, did not believe in him yet. With Jesus, the spirit always ran thicker than blood. Remember his statements ñ who is my mother, and brother and sister? And whoever does not hate his mother and father is not worthy of me? Yet Jesus knew that in the upper room, Jesus half-brothers would all be there and they all would be filled with the Holy Spirit along with his mother. Mary would likely be helpful in encouraging them in Christ, and how better to support that that to have her live with the disciple who best captured the message and love of Jesus Christ? Jesus truly cared for his family. And look at the results ñ the books of James and Jude were written by Jesus half-brothers. So Jesus perfectly matched John and his mother. And many translations say HOUR, so this was immediate. John did not count the cost or inconvenience or impact on his lifestyle or his marriage or his relationship with his own mother in the slightest. What would that do to Johnís relationship with his own mother? NOTHING. John was in his own home and he was fully able to love more than one person. He did not reject his own mother by accepting Mary. Salome, on the other hand, had to accept sharing the affection of her son with her sister. That is not easy, but from Acts chapter one, we believe that she was among the women who were in that same upper room. The ways of God was past finding out. But Jesus, who took such care and who used such foresight in making these arrangements, takes the same level of care with every detail of our lives. You can trust Jesus for every detail of your life. And be sure to follow his example, and think of the welfare of others when you are hurting. That is Christlike, and that is the way it must be if we are to be his mother or his brother. Amen

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