Love and honour for parents
Mary was in all probability a widow by the time Jesus started his ministry. There is mention of Mary and his brothers and sisters but no mention of Joseph in the gospel accounts once Jesus’ work began. Earlier in his teaching Jesus had berated some Pharisees and teachers of the law for their hypocrisy, where they had avoided caring for their parents in old age by saying the money had been promised to God. Jesus accused them of distorting the law to honour one’s mother and father and thus, ‘nullifying the word of God for the sake of your tradition.’ Mathew 15:6
Contrastingly, Jesus fulfilled at the time of his crucifixion the spirit of the law as well as the letter of the law, to honour his mother. He was in great agony and yet he could see the agony and questions of his mother and reached out to her in love arranging that her care should be met by John. There is no record of Jesus’ siblings being present, even James who was to become the head of the Jerusalem church. Jesus here is demonstrating there is no division between family love and responsibilities and spiritual responsibilities and love. He shows also to the church family that we have responsibilities to care for each other and no one should be left alone and unprovided for. John from that moment took on the care of Mary. v27
The recorded presence of the four named women to witness and be with Jesus at this time is of great significance in a world that held women in low esteem. Standing close by and experiencing huge personal grief were four women who loved Jesus, his mother, his aunt, Mary the mother of Clopas and Mary Magdalene who was also a witness of his resurrection in John 20. We can only imagine how hard it was for them and especially his mother who had received such astonishing prophecies prior to Jesus’ birth. While others had deserted Jesus when it appeared too costly to be associated with him, these women made their choice and stood by him whatever the ridicule or threat they may have been subject to. It asks the question, is the cross one step too far for us? Will we reject Jesus at the cross or follow him as these brave loving women did? They stood in contrast to the soldiers who missed the point through familiarity with brutal executions, cynicism and the distraction of gambling for Jesus’ clothes.