Text: John 19:25-30 March 24, 2013.
1) People who were there: Beside the mob who were there near the cross when Jesus as crucified to hurl insults to the Son of God, there were soldiers who were there to divide his garment and to put him to death as their duties. But there were others who were there because they loved Jesus and had special relationship with him. In 19:25and 26, we see these people stool near the cross to witness Jesus took his last breath: ¡°Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother¡¯s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas and Mary Mag-dalene and the disciple whom he loved.¡± These people were there not to mock Jesus, not to put him to death, but to show him their love and loyalty as his most beloved followers.
2) People who want to be there: Most of us, if not all of us, want to be close to Jesus or to have Jesus close to us. We sing the hymn ¡°Jesus keep me near the cross, there a precious fountain¡±, (198 in hymn book) but what does it really mean to be near the cross to witness his death? Of course none of us were there physically when Jesus was crucified, but in the spiritual sense what does it mean to be near the cross of Jesus and what relationship is there between the Lord and us? Let us see and learn from the followers of Jesus who were there near his cross when he was crucified.
1) Compassion of a mother: Mary was Jesus¡¯ physical mother and she was there near the cross because of her love and compassion of her son. When Jesus was only a small baby at the time of dedication, Mary was revealed to by Simeon ¡°A sword will pierce your soul.¡± (Luke 2:35) Mary suffered so much for Jesus since the divine incarnation, to his birth in a manger to his growing separation when he was only a little boy that he would ¡°mind his Father¡¯s business¡± more than being her son. (Luke 2:49) How could anyone imagine the agony of Mary seeing her own son died in public shame? Even so, Mary must be there because of her never dying love of Jesus, her son.
2) Compassion of a son: Jesus saw his mother standing close to him and had compassion for her. He understood her love and assured her of his love by saying: ¡°Dear Mother, here is your son.¡± () Jesus felt her pain, and sorrow, he knew her loneliness in the years to come without her son. Jesus knew that Mary needed company and support of a son, so he gave her to John, his beloved to take care of her in his absence.
3) Compassion of his followers: ¡°When they finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter: Simon, son of Jonah, do you really love me? (John 21:15) Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 8:3, ¡°If a man who loves God is known by God.¡± God loves to see that we as His children love Him and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We don¡¯t have to be physically standing at the cross to see Jesus died for us to show him we love him, we can show our love to him today in our heart, our life and in our services in His church.
A PLACE FOR CONVERSION: Mary Magdalene.
1) Conversion of her life control: From Luke 8:2, we learn that Mary Magdalene was a woman has cast out seven demons. She had been under control of Satan for a long time. The demons made her do terrible thing to herself and others. Satan was at work in her life to destroy, cause havoc, wreck her physically, emotionally and spiritually. Mary was in a hopeless and helpless situation. She then met Jesus who cast out the demons. Jesus delivered her from the bondage of Satan and set her free.
2) Conversion of her life function: After Jesus cast out the demons from controlling her life and set her free, Mary Magdalene had a different function of life. She was able to change the function of her life from fulfilling the destructive works of Satan to hurt herself and others to become part of a group of women who ¡°helping to support them (Jesus and his disciples) out of their own means.¡± (8:3) Instead of spent her life doing evil things to doing God¡¯s work of spreading the gospel message.
3) Conversion we need to have: ¡°If anyone who is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed, the new has come.¡± (2 Cor. 5:17) For all of us who claim to be born anew in Jesus Christ, the Bible quires us to have all the old things passed and to have the new things come to our lives. This is exactly what happened to Mary Magdalene, it should be happened to us. We should no longer be under control of the devil, the evil of this world and the desire of our carnal fresh. Believing Jesus demand s true conversion to become new creation for new function.
1) Correction of her selfishness: Salome was identified as the sister of Jesus¡¯ mother, wife of Zebedee and mother of James and John, two of Jesus¡¯ closest disciples. (Matt 20:20-23) She came to Jesus and asked a very selfish request: When Jesus inherits his kingdom, she wanted her two sons placed on both the right and the left sides of his throne. This request was not only selfish, it was also full of pride that caused indignant division among the disciples. Jesus rebuked her of ¡°not knowing what she was asking.¡±
2) Correction of her ignorance: Salome was not only selfish and full of pride, she was also very ignorant on the principle of glory and price: you can¡¯t get glory without paying the price. Instead of answering her request, Jesus asked her a question: ¡°Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?¡± () Jesus was talking about his pending death on the cross. With knowing the actual costs of the throne, both John and James answered, ¡°We can.¡± No one would think that Salome¡¯s sons deserve the position of glory as she asked. Would she allow her sons to die on the cross in order for them to sit on both sides of the throne? I don¡¯t think so. In fact she asked a request without thinking of the price her sons had to pay. What an example of ignorance in the Bible we need to learn.
3) Correction we need to heed: Try to profit from serving God had been a problem since the Old Testament time. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha tried to profit himself and was punished with leprosy. (2 Kings 5:20-27) Prophet Balaam was almost bought by enemy to pronounce curse on God¡¯s people. He effectively placed his name on the top of the list of corruption in service. (Numbers 22) The sons of Eli certainly made it to the worst. In modern day society, untold number of self-made charismatic pastors, TV preachers, schemes were devised by persons and organizations in the name of serving God and people but in fact serving their own purpose: fame, riches, position, power, etc. All who are serving God should be careful not to seek personal glory or benefit or any other selfish purpose.
Commission after repentance: Most of us didn¡¯t realize that John and other
disciples had forsaken Jesus, fled for their lives at the
2) Commission of great honor: ¡°And to the (beloved) disciple, (Jesus said): Here is your mother.¡± (19:27) John was not only restored his relationship with Jesus, he was also commissioned to take care of Jesus¡¯ mother. It seems Jesus was talking to John like this: ¡°John, you are going to take my place in my family. I will no longer be there to watch over my mother. So, you are going to take my place in caring of my mother and you are going to be a son to her.¡± That is why Jesus asked John to look at Mary, his mother. To this, John gladly obeyed. ¡°From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.¡± (19:27b)
3) Commission we will obey: None of us have that privilege to receive a commission as John had to take care of Jesus¡¯ mother. But we all have the obligation to obey the Great Commission to spread the gospel message to the utter most parts of the world. (Matt 28:19-20) We may begin this from the closest to us: our family, friends, classmates and coworkers. Jesus also asked that we love one another so the world will know we are his disciples. He also asked that we obey his word as a sign of love him, and if we love him he and his Father will love us as well.
APPLICATION OF TRUTH:
1) The cross is for saving souls: Jesus went to the cross to bleed and die because of the sinners of the world. ¡°For God so loved the (sinners of the) world, that He gave (them) his only Son (to die for them) so whoever believes in him may not perish (spiritual eternal loss) but have everlasting life.¡± (John 3:16) If you have never accept the grace of God to save your soul before, today is your day to do so. Since you are in the Treasure Island, don¡¯t leave empty-handed.
2) The cross brings us new life: If you have accepted the cross of Jesus and your soul is saved, the cross is to remind you the price God has paid for you. If you know God has sacrificed his son for you, what will you sacrifice for him? Paul says, ¡°Don¡¯t you that all of us who were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.¡± (Romans 6:3-5) New life is what God demands of us in our everyday life, work, service and giving. Again in 2 Cor 5:15 it says, ¡°And Christ died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.¡±