Listen to the Considerate Savior
Jesus, loving to the end her whose heart Thy sorrows rend,
And Thy dearest human friend: Hear us, holy Jesus!
May we in Thy sorrows share, for Thy sake all peril dare,
And enjoy Thy tender care: Hear us, holy Jesus!
May we all Thy loved ones be, all one holy family,
Loving for the love of Thee: Hear us, holy Jesus! Amen. (TLH 182)
Text: John 19:26-27
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.
In Christ Jesus, who while suffering the punishment of hell was still able to concern Himself with the needs of others, dear fellow redeemed:
We gather once again today to ponder our Savior’s passion. We are considering this year the words our blessed Lord spoke from the cross. Last week we listened to "the forgiving Savior," who asked His heavenly Father to forgive those responsible for His suffering. He prayed for those who were there at that time and in that place—the Roman soldiers and the Jews who rejected Him. He also prayed for all those, who by their sins were directly responsible for His death—that is, for all people including you and for me. Today once again OUR BLESSED SAVIOR SPEAKS. Let us listen to "the considerate Savior," who in the midst of His suffering showed concern for others—concern, first of all, for His mother, but then also concern, secondly, for us.
While most of Jesus’ followers abandoned Him Maundy Thursday evening and were in hiding as Jesus suffered on Good Friday, there were a few who dared approach the cross that dark day. Among them were a few women, including His mother, Mary, and the disciple “whom He (Jesus) loved,” that is, John. Jesus took this opportunity to demonstrate His concern for His mother, Mary—His concern both for her physical and her spiritual welfare.
Jesus, as our Savior, had obligated Himself to keep God’s law in our place. Consequently, He had a duty to perform towards His mother. He was to honor her and care for her, just as the Fourth Commandment says. Earlier in His ministry Jesus had condemned the scribes and Pharisees for their failure to fulfill this commandment. While the scribes and Pharisees complained about Jesus’ disciples failing to wash their hands ceremonially before eating and so breaking the precepts of the Jewish elders, they themselves broke this law of God. God commanded the scribes and Pharisees to honor their fathers and mothers. Instead, they had worked out a system whereby anything that they possessed, which might have helped their parents, could be dedicated as a "gift to God," and so would not have to be given to their parents. Such rules were not set up out of love for God, but rather to cover up greedy hearts!
God gave Jesus a final opportunity before His death to fulfill the obligations and privileges of the Fourth Commandment by providing for the needs of His earthly mother. He did so by asking John to care for her. In a touching moment, Jesus seeing the two of them under the cross said to Mary, “Woman, behold your son” and to John, “Behold your mother!” From that day forward John took Mary into his own home and provided for her until her death. By doing this, Jesus was able to show His disciples and all of us what His commands to love meant. Jesus had told His disciples no less than three times Maundy Thursday evening “to love one another.” Here Jesus proved to be an example of what He had commanded, for despite His own great suffering, He was still able to think of others.
But why, we might ask, did Jesus entrust the physical welfare of His mother to John, when in the Gospel accounts we read of Jesus’ brothers who often accompanied Mary? Whether these brothers, whose names are given us—James, Joses, and Simon, were actual children of Mary, or merely close relatives of our Lord we cannot be sure. They were, however, family. Jesus here shows a concern for something greater than Mary’s physical welfare. He showed a concern for her spiritual welfare. Jesus’ relatives could very well have provided for Mary’s physical needs, but these brethren at this point were unbelievers. Jesus’ brothers were aware of His mighty powers. One can hardly imagine that Mary had not borne witness to the marvelous facts of His birth, yet they remained unconvinced. Earlier in his Gospel, John tells us that Jesus’ “brothers” urged Him to go up to Jerusalem so that everyone might see His mighty works, yet John tells us, “His brothers did not believe in Him” (7:3,5).
Yes, our Savior here shows us that the spiritual welfare of an individual is of greater consideration and more important even than family ties! That is a difficult thing for people to understand, for in our day spirituality is considered to be of secondary importance to family by many, if not entirely optional. Yet, this is hardly the case, for as Jesus warns us, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). Peter reminds us, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Our spiritual welfare and that of those people around us is to be foremost in our minds!
As we observe our "considerate Savior," however, let us realize that Jesus’ greatest love for His mother was not found in the words He expressed, but rather in the actions He was undertaking at that very moment. Jesus was dying on the cross for everyone, including His mother. He had come into this world to be her Savior too! Jesus could have come down from the cross and taken care of His mother’s physical and spiritual well being personally, but He did not do that, because He had a much greater good in mind. Simeon had told Mary in the temple when Jesus was a Child, that “a sword will piece through your own soul” (Luke 2:35), referring to Jesus’ death. No mother can view a child’s death without emotion, and how Mary’s must have sorrowed. As a faithful son, Jesus must have been distressed by the sorrow of His mother, yet Jesus remained on the cross for the greater good of paying for the sins of all of us, including those of His mother. In this way Jesus was above all a "considerate Savior" for His mother!
That same Savior—our considerate Savior—demonstrated His concerns for each of us. On Maundy Thursday evening in His "High-Priestly Prayer," Jesus stated, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word” (John 17:20). Our considerate Savior, who with His Father has predestined us from eternity to be the children of God through faith, had us also in mind during His passion.
Our Savior certainly provides for our physical needs on this earth. We are all familiar with the words of the Psalmist, “The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:15-16). Our Savior Himself urges us to ask and promises to give (cf. Matthew 7:7). To illustrate how we are supposed to rely upon Him, Jesus tells us, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
Our considerate Savior also provides for our spiritual welfare. If we once again turn to that "High-Priestly Prayer" of our Savior, we hear Him say, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one…sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:14-15,17). Our Savior has provided us with His Word. It is a powerful Word, which is able to make us wise unto salvation (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15). It is “sharper than any two-edged sword” the writer to the Hebrews tells us (4:12), and in the hands of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, it leads us into all truth.
It is that Word, which reveals to us our Savior’s greatest consideration. That Word shows us our failures, but then by grace reveals to us our future—a future gained for us by our considerate Savior! In order to be our Savior, Jesus had to do two things. He had to fulfill the law of God perfectly on our behalf. As we listen to our blessed Savior speak this evening, we hear Him doing that very thing by keeping the Fourth Commandment for us. St. Paul told the Romans, “Through one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Jesus was that one Man, and we are among those made righteous by His perfect life. But then Jesus also had to endure the punishment our sins deserve, which is what He did as He hung on that cross while uttering those words we have considered. Jesus demonstrated His greatest concern for us by staying the course on our behalf. Jesus said it Himself, “Greater love has no one than this, that to lay down one’s life for his friends” John 15:13). Thank you, God for sending Your Son! Thank you, Jesus for being our considerate Savior! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting