Let’s read John 19:25-27, “Now there STOOD BY THE CROSS of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (NKJV). As you can see, I included verse 25 so we could see “who was present at the cross standing.”

Why did Jesus address Mary as woman? The answer to this lies in what he said next to the disciple John, “Behold your mother!” Jesus was about to bow His head in death, rise from the grave three days later, and then forty days after that ascend back to heaven to His Father’s right hand. In view of Him leaving the earth He was also leaving His earthly relationship with His mother. So, what does He do? In love He commits her to His faithful disciple John to care for her as he would his own mother. We know from the last words of our passage that John willingly obeyed Jesus’ charge, for “from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” Jesus surely loved His mother and cared for her deeply; He knew the extreme agony she was going through at that moment as she saw her son suffering untold pain and agony. To relieve her agony, He was leaving her in the hands of His beloved disciple John, knowing he would indeed give her a home and the love and the comfort she would need in the days ahead.

Why was Mary addressed as mother to the disciples? This may come as a shock to you, but Jesus NEVER called Mary His mother, to His disciples or anyone else. She is referred to as “the mother of Jesus” in Scripture (see Matthew 2:11; 13:55; Acts 1:14) but Jesus never actually called her “mother.” Now in truth SHE WAS HIS MOTHER, but in a unique and miraculous way.   She was the one who God used to bring the Savior into the world! You recall that before Mary was with the child Jesus she was told by an angel, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS” (Luke 1:30-31). She then asked, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” and she was then told “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (verses 34-35). There has never been a BIRTH like this in the entire world and there never shall be.  And we can say there was never a mother/son relationship like this as well.

The fact is when Jesus addressed His “mother” directly He called her “woman,” here in John 19:26 and at the well-known wedding at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). There we read in verse 3, “When the wine ran out, the MOTHER OF JESUS said to Him, ‘They have no wine.” No doubt she knew her Son was able to perform the miracle of turning the water into wind and perhaps she also wanted Him to manifest to all present that He was indeed “the Christ, the Son of the living God” and Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. Yet how did Jesus respond to His mother? Verse 4 says, ‘Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” Was Jesus being disrespectful to His mother in these words, especially by referring to her as “Woman?” No, He was not! Back then the word “woman” was said in “respect,” and was like calling a woman a “lady.” Though He did refer to her respectfully, He also wanted her to know that He was “not subject to her commands,” but to His heavenly Father’s will. Mary wanted everyone to see His glory, but Jesus instructed her by saying, “My hour has not yet come,” as if to say, “The time for me to appear in glory as King of kings and Lord of lords has not come.” 

I would like to close by reading Matthew 12:46-50, “While He (Jesus) was still talking to the multitudes, behold, HIS MOTHER and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, ‘Look YOUR MOTHER and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.’ But He answered and said to the one who told Him, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, ‘Here are MY MOTHER and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Here we Jesus’ mother seeking an audience with her Son and being denied. Why? Because He was here (on earth) to do His heavenly Father’s will and He would not allow her, even if she were His earthly mother, to interfere with the work the Father had given Him to do. Another lesson we learn here is that it wasn’t His “earthly family” that was vital to the Lord Jesus, but His “heavenly family”; that is, the “family of God.” His last words indicate this, for those who “do the will of My Father in heaven…are my mother and my brothers.” We do well to take this truth to heart, my dear fellow-believers, for we often place more importance on our “earthly relationships” (with our parents and siblings). Yet we should, like our blessed Savior, put a premium on our “heavenly relationships” (with our “brothers and sisters in Christ”).

I said I was going to close but one more thought just occurred to me in connection with “Mary the mother of Jesus.” We have another lesson for us in the last mention of her in Scripture. In Acts 1:14 we read, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” Here we see believers waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit as Jesus had commanded them to do (see verses 4-5) and among the disciples who were “praying as they waited” was “Mary the mother of Jesus.” She is “one among many” and it is so instructive to see that she is NOT being “exalted” or “prayed to”; she is a humble believer who took her place with others in the “family of God” who were “doing the will of Jesus’ Father in heaven.”  (421.3)  (DO)