Lenten Prayer Guide: Week 4
Woman, Behold Your Son! Son, Behold Your Mother!
By Alex Meeking
Program Director Pioneer Camp Pacific
Reflection 1: Monday March 8
Scripture: John 19:26-27
Having pondered these verses for a while now, here I sit. At the foot of the cross. Honoured and thankful. Emotionally exhausted, yet entirely sure that this is GOOD NEWS.
Imagine yourself at the scene of the cross. Close your eyes. What do you see? Where are you in the scene? Watch what happens. Having pondered these verses for a while now, here I sit. At the foot of the cross. Honoured and thankful. Emotionally exhausted, yet entirely sure that this is GOOD NEWS.
The Son: Jesus Christ. The son of God, yet fully human. He is fulfilling his purpose on this earth, but the pain is real. He is breathing his last. His body is failing. With what strength is left, he is looking over the crowd surrounding him. He looks for his mom, the one who comforts him like no other. His heart aches.
Mary had cared for Jesus when he had been helpless, now he will care for her when she is helpless. He understands her need to love and to be loved. While taking on and atoning for the sins of the world, Jesus finds space to care for his mom. Jesus meets her very practical needs for welfare, companionship, protection, and stability. A grateful son’s love for his mother. Yet, as her saviour, he meets so much more.
The Disciple: John, a faithful friend. He is there to the end, at his friend’s side, no matter the price. As the scene gets worse, and death becomes imminent, John remains. He is THERE. Jesus is thankful and he loves John. Jesus entrusts his mother to John and John’s family, and there is no question. John’s unfeigned love for Jesus is matched with his readiness and cheerfulness to comply and assume Christ’s direction regardless of the cost.
The Mother: The torment she would have endured. She would never have walked away from her child, no matter the agony. How many times had Jesus looked to her for comfort, for support? The hair she once tousled, now matted with blood. The back she once rubbed, now torn and disfigured. A life spent comforting and protecting this boy who is now a man, beaten and bloodied, naked and humiliated. I imagine Mary’s friends, with her as any good friends would be, reminded her that she needn’t watch this. She did not have to stay. She could look away, and they would comfort her. But Mary stayed with her child. For her there was no choice. She could not prevent or ease Jesus’ suffering, but she was not going away. Just as Simeon had said (Luke 2:32), a sword pierced her own soul also. Mary lost her child that day.
Ponder: This scene is heavy. We may connect more with one stream of contemplation than another. Your heart may be hurting, as does mine. Let us sit in this space as we enter this week. What happened at the cross was not only redemptive for time and eternity, but also very personal. Allow the emotions and experience the grief. Bring that to the foot of the cross, to the feet of our saviour.
Reflection 2: Tuesday, March 9
Scripture: Luke 1:34, Luke 1:38, Luke 1:46-55, Luke 2:48, John 2:3-5, John 19:25-27
Ponder: The New Testament speaks very little about Mary, and she says even less. Yet, each time she speaks, we gain a little glimpse into her relationship with God. Mary is an example to us of a life of faith and contemplation. As we sit with each verse, imagine her as she would be later, at the foot of the cross. What are you gathering from Mary’s example? What have you held that was precious to you and yet was taken away?
Reflection 3: Wednesday, March 10
Scripture: John 15, 2 Corinthians 8:1-15
Ponder: Let us sit in the position of John the Disciple, at the cross. Consider John’s regard for Jesus and his commitment to the call which Christ placed on him. There is no question that people around us are grieving and bound up by fear and anger. Who have you loved and had to watch die? Where is God in that memory? Where is he now? Is there an invitation here to step into another’s grief just by being present?
Reflection 4: Thursday, March 11
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Matthew 11:25-30
Ponder: God gave his Son that day, and so did Mary. My understanding is that relinquishing a child to God is the most difficult thing a parent will ever do. One of the greatest acts of love toward a child and toward God is to remove your interference from them and open a clearer path for God to move in their lives. Not all of us have children, but many of us are in positions to disciple and care for others. How Mary handled herself at the cross is an ideal model of Godly relinquishment.That day, the relationship between Mary and her son, which had been changing over the years, took on a deeper dimension. Her son was also her saviour, and the death she witnessed purchased her salvation. Mary was Jesus’ mother and disciple. He was her son and her saviour.
Mary had such a quality of meekness at the cross, modelled by Jesus himself. Mary was the only one privileged both to be at Jesus’ birth and death. God required much of Mary in her life, and yet he gave her the grace to endure and triumph. There is something beautiful about someone whose determined tenacity allows her to be identified with a broken bleeding saviour.
A group of women stayed close until the end. And what Mary thought was the end, was only really the beginning. How much of life with God is like that?!
What might God be asking you to relinquish into his care? Is there something or someone with whom Jesus is inviting you to be more open-handed?
Reflection 5: Friday, March 12
Scripture: Psalm 34:18, Psalm 46:1, Psalm 59:16
Ponder: What happened at the cross was not only redemptive for time and eternity, but also very personal. Just as Jesus meets Mary’s needs, all of our needs can also be met at the foot of the cross. Looking back on this week’s reflections, ask yourself:“what am I laying at the foot of the cross this week?”