Friday, April 18, 2014

Join the 3 Mary's at the Foot of the Cross

The Sorrowful Mother by French artist James
Tissot. From the Brooklyn Museum of Art
by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

Today is Good Friday. I've always wondered why it was called that when we are actually remembering one of the most tragic days in all of human history. Today we reflect on what, from a purely human perspective, seems like the senseless abuse and torture of a truly innocent man who had done nothing at all to deserve such punishment.

The Bible mentions that there were 3 women at the cross, all of whom were named Mary. The first Mary was Jesus' mother. The second one, Mary, the wife of Clopas is identified by John as his mother's sister. Although it seems odd that two sisters would both be named Mary, perhaps they were sisters-in-law or step sisters. However, some commentators identify this Mary as the mother of James and Joses and believe that Mary's sister may have been Salome. The last one is Mary Magdalene, a woman whom he had rescued from a life of prostitution filled with evil spirits.

Several years ago I wrote about the Lord's First Supper and how Mary, his young mother, must have felt. Now just 33 years later she is standing, transfixed by grief, watching her son die a criminal's death. What happened to the angelic promise given to her so long ago that He would save His people? How could God allow His Son to go through this?

What our Saviour Saw from the Cross by James Tissot
Perhaps she had a flashback to the moment in the temple when she and Joseph had brought Him to be presented before The Lord. She remembered the words of the aged prophet Simeon who had blessed them and told her that a sword would pierce through her own soul also. Today that prophecy was being fulfilled. Oh the unbearable grief of watching her sweet Son suffer!! Maybe she wished that for just a moment he could be a baby in her arms once again so she could shelter Him from the cruelty of His Roman executioners.

As his Aunt Mary watched Jesus suffer and saw her sister's pain, she must have been at a complete loss. The Bible talks about women who supported Jesus' ministry, and it is likely that she was one of them. She had heard His teaching, knew the story of His miraculous birth, and must have been stunned at the turn of events during the last few days which had led to this moment.

Finally, we see Mary of Magdala, a woman who owed Jesus everything, her life, her sanity, her very being. She had witnessed first hand the power of His transforming forgiveness, grace and love. She knew that He had power over evil. Perhaps the most mind-boggling aspect of the crucifixion for her was how evil could have won the day.
From the Passion of the Christ

Or maybe these women did understand that Jesus was dying as a sacrifice. That He was voluntarily laying down His life to take the punishment that they (and we all) deserved. Even if they did, on some level, realize that in His death He was fulfilling prophecy, it didn't make the spectacle any easier to watch.

Of course they didn't know what was just around the corner. They didn't know that in just 3 days they would see their beloved Jesus again in His resurrected body! They couldn't fathom how quickly their grief would turn to joy as He explained how His suffering had fulfilled prophecy and set them free from the guilt of sin. For now all they knew was the incredible overwhelming grief at seeing Jesus suffer. It is that grief which fills my eyes with tears tonight because I know that He suffered for me.

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