If one were to ask, “What did Jesus do to save us?” most Christians would answer, “He died on the cross to take away our sins.” And that would be correct.
But Jesus had to do more to win our salvation. He also had to live a holy life for us by obeying all the commandments. Did you realize that on the cross Christ was doing both for our salvation: dying for our sins and living a holy life of obedience?
That is most obvious from the third word from the cross when he said to his mother, Mary, “ ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother’ ” (John 19:26,27).
Since there is no mention of Joseph at the time of Jesus’ death, it’s likely that Mary was a widow when Jesus died. Who would take care of her after Jesus died? It seems that she had other children, but they didn’t believe in Jesus, at least not right away. In fact, there was a time when they thought Jesus was insane (Mark 3:21), and perhaps they thought the same about Mary who was still standing by her son Jesus while he was executed by the Romans. The situation looked destitute!
But Jesus, the perfect, obedient Son, would take no chances. In the midst of his agony, he saw to it that his mother was cared for by the apostle John. And that happened. For the Bible tells us, “From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:27).
He was dying and in agony, and yet, he took care of his mother’s needs.
What Jesus did on the cross to take care of his mother teaches us some important things. First of all, it silences the criticism of some who might say, “All you Christians care about is heaven; you have no concern for the here and now.” Yes, Jesus is concerned with bringing us to heaven, but his words from the cross show that he also has loving concern for our physical needs here and now. His vision was also on the challenges of living here in this world. If Jesus showed loving concern that Mary would be taken care of after his death, will he not also lovingly be concerned about taking care of us when our loved ones die and go to heaven? And will he not also lovingly be concerned with providing for and taking care of the loved ones we leave behind when we die? This word from the cross shows that Jesus is able and willing to do that.
In addressing his mother’s earthly needs, Jesus was also taking care of our need for salvation. What do I mean? First of all, we see Jesus obeying the Fourth Commandment: “Honor your father and mother.” He was dying and in agony, and yet, he took care of his mother’s needs. Why did Jesus, even in the hour of death, obey the Fourth Commandment? He did it because we have not and cannot obey any of the commandments, including this one. In order for us to enter heaven, the Fourth Commandment, as well as all the others, must be kept perfectly. The only one who could do that was Jesus. And he did, even while dying on the cross. His perfect obedience that we hear in those tender words spoken to Mary has been credited to our account. His righteousness, his obedience, are now ours by faith. Through his obedience we have hope for eternal life.
But there is more. Jesus was also suffering the punishment we deserve for all the times we don’t keep the Fourth Commandment. If ever there was a reason for Jesus to come down from that cross, it was for his mother. Who could have—who would have—blamed him if he had stopped it all right there and said, “My mother is going to need me to take care of her in her old age.” But he didn’t. On the cross he not only took care of his mother’s earthly needs, but he also stayed there to take care of our need for forgiveness. For every time we dishonor or anger our parents or fail to honor our parents or serve and obey them and give them love and respect, we deserve to be rejected by our heavenly Father. But look at what the Father did. Rather than punish us for disobeying our parents, he punished his own Son so that we might be his own children.
“Woman, here is your son,” and, “Here is your mother.” Thank God Jesus obeyed the Fourth Commandment for us and died to suffer the punishment for our sins against the Fourth Commandment. Through Jesus’ life and death, we now have hope for heaven . . . and we have reason to honor our fathers and mothers and care for others.
Author: Bruce McKenney
Volume 109, Number 03
Issue: March 2022