Message: Good Friday Reflection on John 19.26, 27
Text: When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Preacher: Patrick H. Wrisley, D.Min.
Location: First Pres DeLand
Date: April 14, 2017, Good Friday
Mother Mary, Aunt Mary, and his Anam Cara or soul friend, Mary Magdalene, were standing off some ways from the bloody spectacle of three crucified men. With them was Jesus’ best friend and soul brother, John Zebedee, who appears to have fled Gethsemane the night before at the arrest and ran to the safety and comfort of those who are closest to Jesus – his family and his closest soul sister. I can’t imagine they slept well that night because of the shock and fear enveloping them. No doubt, John was pumped for details about all that happened in the Garden hours earlier.
“Did Jesus get hurt?”
“Did anyone stand up for him?”
“Who turned him into the religious officials?”
I can picture John, all shook up, afraid and in the dark about everything that’s happened trying to answer their interrogations. By this time in the afternoon, their worst fears were becoming reality: Jesus had been given a death sentence.
So those who had the most intimate emotional connection with Jesus went to see what was happening. It’s not a sight any parent would want to see of their child. It’s not a scene best friends would care to witness but the four of them came anyway. They had to come and see for themselves. Numb with shock, they stumbled to Golgotha to see with their own eyes what they have heard rumors about from others. This is what they saw.
Three crosses are placed near one another with Jesus impaled on the middle one. The three men were bloodied, sweaty and struggling to get enough energy to push up on a small board with their nailed feet so they could lift themselves up to breath. Carrion fowl already smelled the blood and were patiently waiting their turn to swoop down onto the bodies. Soldiers were using Jesus clothes as barter for their gambling habit under Jesus’ gaze. They could see pieces of skin dangling up under his arms from the beating he received from the Roman whips tipped with bone and rock as he received 39 lashes. The air was full of moaning, crying, taunting and cruel laughter. In a word, horrific.
And then the unexpected happens. Head lowered in pain and exhaustion, Jesus lifts his eyes and sees the ones he loves. His heart is stirred. Love begins swelling up from his gut and tears of relief and joy blur his vision. You see, his mother, Aunt Mary, Mary Magdalene and John believed themselves helpless watching from a distance; after all, what could they do except watch it all unfold? What they neglected to understand was their simple presence with Jesus on the Cross was their way of saying, “Jesus, we love you” and it was a message Jesus received loud and clear. During the Son of Man’s darkest hour, he sees that the ones he loves have not forgotten him and their love for him transcended their fears for their own personal safety. In Jesus’ mind, four broken, scared people who dared to join him at the Cross were enough to inspire him, enough to give him hope that all was not done in vain. And there, during the final moments of his life, he once again shows love to others.
“Momma, John is my soul brother and he is now your son. John, this is my mother and from now she’s your momma. Take care of her.”
Now it was finished. He could let go now. He has taken care of the last untended detail. Like a good boy, he is making sure his mother is cared for. And Mary in her own simple way of being present with her son at his death is also taking care of him. He would hold on to that memory to get him through the rest of the day. Would only our presence tonight do the same thing. Amen.
Patrick H. Wrisley, D.Min.
Senior Pastor and Teaching Elder
First Pres DeLand
724 North Woodland Avenue
DeLand, FL 32720
© 2017 Patrick H. Wrisley. Sermon manuscripts are available for the edification of members and friends of First Presbyterian Church, DeLand, Florida and may not be altered, re-purposed, published or preached without permission. All rights reserved.