Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 1 January 2017
Page 8

Woman, Behold, Thy Son!
Behold, Thy Mother!

George Jensen

George JensenThree sayings that Jesus spoke during the first three hours of our Lord’s crucifixion have been preserved. The third saying will be the focus of this article. First, note some background.

Jesus knew beforehand that once He was taken, the disciples would distance themselves from Him. He had even told them, “All ye shall be offended in me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad” (Matthew 26:31). Who can forget the vehement denials of Peter?

When all had forsaken Jesus, the exception reads like this: “But there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25). Surely, words cannot express the intensity of Mary’s agony as she gazed upon her Son.

There was, however, another exception. Along with the women, there was a man at the foot of the cross. “Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved” (John 19:26). The one apostle who clung more closely to Jesus than all the rest, known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20), was John.

Looking down upon this little band of disciples, Jesus said, “Woman, behold thy son!” (John 19:26). The statement which follows reveals that He was not calling attention to Himself. Rather, he was calling His mother’s attention to John. He then said to John, “Behold, thy mother!” (John 19:27).

The 5th commandment of the Decalogue required men to “Honor thy father and thy mother…” (Exodus 20:12). Even while enduring the agony of the torture, Jesus summoned the energy to ensure continued care for His mother! In essence, Jesus was calling upon His mother to allow John to take His place as her son, and He was asking John to assume the care of His mother. Jesus wanted His mother to “adopt” His best friend, and for His friend to “adopt” His mother.

We have no doubt of John’s willingness, for the Bible reveals that “from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:27). Almost for certain, Joseph was dead at this time. Jesus and His family had been poor from His birth (Luke 2:22-24, the offering allowed for the poor). A widow in Israel had little means of support.

Are your parents living? Show them the honor they deserve. It is not enough to send flowers on Mother’s Day. Give them the care they deserve. How sad it is when grown children, rather than caring for their parents, are still being propped up by their parents!

The Word Spoken through Angels

Andy Robison

In Acts 7:53, Stephen was winding up the sermon that would get him killed when he said that those listeners had “received the law by the direction of angels and had not kept it.” Such a passage makes one wonder how angels were involved in delivering the Old Law. The passage is not alone. Galatians 3:19 asks, “What purpose then does the law serve?” and then answers, “It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.” Such passages whet the appetite of the curious. The curious, however, may never know the details; those may be relegated to the secret things that belong to God (Deuteronomy 29:29).

There are some interesting passages in the Old Testament that may apply. Deuteronomy 33:2 has Moses poetically speaking of the Lord coming from Sinai and bringing a “fiery law” for the people “with ten thousands of His saints.” Likewise, Psalm 68:17 is intriguing; “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, Even thousands of thousands; The Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the Holy Place.” Recall, please, that Elisha’s servant, when finally seeing visually the help God was providing, saw it in the form of a mountain being “full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17). Also, in Daniel 7:10, the vision of the Ancient of Days has a “fiery stream” issuing forth from Him and “a thousand thousands” ministering to Him. It is a type of language that indicates a heavenly being. How exactly angels were involved in delivering the Law is beyond this author, but it can be accepted as fact based upon the above Scriptures. The important point is the application of it made by the Scriptures, which comes powerfully in Hebrews 2:1-3.

There, Jewish Christians in danger of sliding back into Judaism are quite forcefully admonished, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him…” Indeed, the “word spoken through angels” was steadfast. Penalties were prescribed for all kinds of offenses. All from the adulterous to the rebellious son were to suffer the death penalty (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Punishment for disobedience was harsh.

The inspired author argues from the lesser to the greater. If those punishments were harsh, how much more harsh will be the punishment upon those who neglect the salvation spoken by the Lord! In some ways, the New Law of Christ seems more lenient. No longer do we stone rebellious sons or kill the adulterous. That is not part of the Law of Christ. Nevertheless, there will come a judgment with an eternal consequence (2 Corinthians 5:10; John 5:28-29). The thrust of Hebrews 1-2 is to prove the Divinity of Christ by proving His exaltation above angels. In that vein, God has now “spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:2). That word supersedes any word spoken by angels.

Christ is superior; so is His Word. The application is clear. “Give the more earnest heed” to Christ’s Word. Slipping from it carries a terrible penalty. Modern audiences may not be tempted to fall back into Judaism, but falling back into any lifestyle other than that in Christ is tragic and awaits a terrible penalty (2 Peter 2:20-22). God is loving and just, but He penalizes the stubbornly rebellious (Hebrews 10:26). The “word spoken through angels” should have taught us that.

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