Friday, March 21, 2014

John's New Mother

This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them,and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (Jn 19:24-27)
As the soldiers are dividing his clothes Jesus is visited by his mother and John. It’s hard to say when his mother became a believer. We haven’t heard from her since the wedding I Cana. The other gospels record her and his brothers as unbelievers at least at the beginning of his ministry. That’s always a puzzling thing. It seems an odd thing that now at her son’s death she becomes a believer. But then perhaps it is finally now that she sees his resolve and understands what his intentions were from the beginning. Perhaps now she is remembering Simeon’s words about a sword that would pierce her soul also.
Jesus was the oldest son. It was his duty to care for his mom in her old age, in the absence of her husband. Now he dies a young death, before her very eyes. She will have to bury her son. It is the hardest thing a parent ever does. But before he dies he takes care of his worldly business. He provides for his mom’s care, he entrusts her to the disciple that is closest to him, perhaps the only one that visits him in his time of death. He entrusts her to John.
Legend has it that John even took Mary with him to Ephesus when he fled the Jewish war to find refuge there. It was there that John trained men like Polycarp to be pastors in the early church. That’s something about the Christian religion I don’t think many comprehend. The history doesn’t stop at the end of Acts. There is continuity and interaction with the history of the four gospels and acts even up to our own time. The Bible didn’t just fall out of the sky. The history isn’t closed off in a special realm of fantasy. It is actual history that has interaction with the events of the world that are not recorded in the Bible. It melds with the history of Josephus, Tacitus and others of the day who even have to mention Christ, and record who his disciples were, and how it is that John the Baptist lost his head. But then today, there are so few who know or care for history. It really can’t be so in the Christian church, the truth of what we believe rests not in a microscope or a cosmological argument, but in historical events that give all of history, ours included, profound purpose and meaning, because our God blessed this time and space we inhabit with his life. If John did take Mary to Ephesus, she must have been around 90. That isn’t improbable.

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