Here Is Your Son…Here Is Your Mother
The Third Sunday in Lent – The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Lori Coble and her husband Chris experienced the worst nightmare any parent can think of. Her children went with friends to an amusement park and on the way back a man ran a red light and hit the minivan. Their son, Kyle, was seriously injured and they rushed to the hospital. They stood by his bed and Lori placed her hand on Kyle's chest...and after about 40 minutes Kyle died. Lori and Chris went home, thinking that what happened wasn't reality, but a nightmare they wanted to wake from. Lori sat at the desk and wrote, “I will never forget the moment your heart stopped and mine still kept beating.” There were other mothers before and after Lori who had to go on with life after the unimaginable of losing a child happened. On this third Sunday in Lent we think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, that it came into reality what Simeon told her when Jesus was presented at the temple after His birth – “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2: 35. Perhaps Mary thought of those words as she stood at the cross. Then there was the disciple whom Jesus loved – John. His heart must have been ripped in pieces as His Lord died on a Roman cross. If he only could change what was happening. In that moment, for both Mary and John, it came from the lips of Jesus, “Here is your son...Here is your mother.” Those words first gave peace and comfort to Mary. It was like Jesus wanted to give her the assurance – “You will be taken care of by one of my companions. He will take care of you, as a son takes care of his own mother.” And to John the message was “Look after my mother for me. She's your responsibility for the rest of her life.” On the surface it was a basic request and human expectation – “Do what society would expect from a son to do for his mother.” And John agreed to do that. We read in verse 27b, “From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
But my friends, we have to appreciate that there is a deeper level of what Jesus meant in the third word from the cross. He didn't just make living arrangements for His mother before He died. No, it was like our Lord wanted all people to hear those words and know that they all should 1 Take Care Of One Another. Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish theologian and philosopher commented, “In those words of the Saviour on the cross, the birth of God's family occurred.” Those were words of compassion, not just to a mother, who attended her Son's execution on a Roman cross and a man who risked the danger of being arrested and nailed to a similar cross. No, it still goes out in every place where God's people gather; in every place where we are called to do to one another and others as Jesus would do to us. Lent is foremost about the suffering of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We follow Him on the road of suffering and we go all the way to Golgotha and experience the most profound love ever demonstrated. But then, Lent is also a time to open our eyes and see the reality of the world around us. When we see those who hunger and those who suffer in loneliness, we get to know more reasons why Jesus came to this world. He came to die on a cross, but before that He made a difference in the lives of many. Like the man who was disabled for 38 years we read about in John 5. Jesus gave him back a normal life. There was a woman who had a blood disease for 12 years and Jesus healed her. There were those who felt excluded, but Jesus welcomed them into His circle. And now you and I are the ones who are called to care for the world. Can you appreciate with me? - it starts with a simple act of hospitality we show to others. Do you see those before you every day of your life and then you hear Jesus say again and again, “Here is your brother...Here is your sister”?
Why did Jesus speak this word of caring for one another from the cross? It was so that we can Exercise 2 The Fellowship Of Caring. One commentator on the Gospel of John said, “When you read passages about the life of Jesus you cannot be surprised that He gave this command of affection.” Can you appreciate with me that His affection wasn't just for immediate family? No, He widened His circle to all in the regions He went to and then He sent out His disciples to take it as far as they humanly were able to do. There is a very precious word we find in Luke 8: 19-21, “His mother came to Him and His brothers also, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowds. And it was reported to Him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You." But He answered and said to them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." I think in many situations when family would show up we will say to those visiting us, “Could we please plan for another day? This was unexpected. We'll let you know.” But not Jesus – His empathy, His love and His compassion were never reserved for just His mother and brothers. It wasn't reserved for the disciples who became His close companions when they left their lives behind in order to follow Him. No, when they wanted to send crowds away and scolded parents when they brought their children to Jesus to receive His blessing, He rebuked them. Those who came were the ones He made time for, they were meant to be in the presence of the One Who was all about love and affection. I think John got it when Jesus entrusted him with the care of His mother. For three years he saw the perfect example of his Master. He was in the perfect School of Koinonia. Koinonia means fellowship. In that environment it was always, “As you have seen me do to others, you have to go and do as well.” We thank our Lord for the third word from the cross, “Here is your son...Here is your mother.” Those words were spoken for us as well. We were included in Jesus' compassion. And now we have to show it to others as we follow Jesus on the road of suffering. And friends, especially when we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we are confronted – as Jesus had shown His passion to us on the cross we have to show to others, “I have in my heart empathy and compassion for you.”
Rev. Willem H. van de Wall