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The Third Word: “Dear woman, here is your son.” (John 19:26)

By Mark D. Roberts | Tuesday, March 18, 2008

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Copyright © Linda Roberts, 2007.
For permission to use this picture, please contact Mark D. Roberts.


As Jesus was dying, his mother was among those who had remained with him. Most of the male disciples had fled, with the exception of one whom the Fourth Gospel calls “the disciple he loved.” We can’t be exactly sure of the identity of this beloved disciple, though many interpreters believe he is John, who is also the one behind the writing of this Gospel.

No matter who the beloved disciple was, it’s clear that Jesus was forging a relationship between this disciple and his mother, one in which the disciple would take care of Mary financially and in other ways. Jesus wanted to make sure she would be in good hands after his death.

The presence of Mary at the cross adds both humanity and horror to the scene. We are reminded that Jesus was a real human being, a man who had once been a boy who had once been carried in the womb of his mother. Even as he was dying on the cross as the Savior of the world, Jesus was also a son, a role he didn’t neglect in his last moments.

When we think of the crucifixion of Jesus from the perspective of his mother, our horror increases dramatically. The death of a child is one of the most painful of all parental experiences. To watch one’s beloved child experience the extreme torture of crucifixion must have been unimaginably terrible. We’re reminded of the prophecy of Simeon shortly after Jesus’ birth, when he said to Mary: “And a sword will pierce your very soul” (Luke 2:35).

This scene helps us not to glorify or spiritualize the crucifixion of Jesus. He was a real man, true flesh and blood, a son of a mother, dying with unbearable agony. His suffering was altogether real, and he took it on for you and for me.

Questions for Reflection

What does Mary’s presence at the cross evoke in you? Why do you think was it necessary for Jesus to suffer physical pain as he died?


Lord Jesus, the presence of your mother at the cross engages my heart. You are no longer only the Savior dying for the sins of the world. You are also a fully human man, a son with a mother.

O Lord, how can I begin to thank you for what you suffered? My words fall short. My thoughts seem superficial and vague. Nevertheless, I offer my sincere gratitude for your suffering. Thank you for bearing my sin on the cross. I give you my praise, my love, my heart . . . all that I am, because you have given me all that you are.

All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, fully God and fully human, Savior of the world . . . my Savior! Amen.

Topics: Holy Week & Easter |

3 Responses to “The Third Word: “Dear woman, here is your son.” (John 19:26)”

  1. Jim Says:
    March 18th, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    You wrote: We can’t be exactly sure of the identity of this beloved disciple, though many interpreters believe he is John, who is also the one behind the writing of this Gospel.

    Since the Bible can demonstrate for certain that whoever this unnamed “other disciple” was he could not possibly have been John it is clear that you are unaware of the Biblical evidence against the disciple Jesus loved being John. But realize that if police find no DNA when they visit the scene of a crime but it is later found when a more thorough search is done one cannot conclude that the evidence didn’t exist when the first group looked. In the same way, the fact that many never bother to search the scriptures on this question doesn’t mean that this evidence doesn’t exist. It just means that they haven’t yet looked for it — because it does exist.

    The truth is there is not a single verse in scripture that would justify teaching the idea that John was the one whom “Jesus loved” and yet most simply assume that this man-made tradition cannot be wrong and then interpret scripture to fit this idea. But if one will heed Ps. 118:8 then the NON-BIBLE sources on which this man-made tradition is based will give way to the facts stated in scripture which prove that NO MATTER WHO this anonymous author was he most certainly was not John. has a free Bible-only based study that compares what the Bible says about John with what it says about “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and the facts in evidence prove that whoever this author was he was not John because the Bible cannot contradict itself. But one need not read this study if they will simply read the fourth gospel from the beginning with the honest question, “Who would I conclude the author was based on just the facts stated in his own gospel?” Those who do so will never come to the conclusion that this “other disciple” was John because NONE of the evidence points toward John.

    Speculations as to the identity of the beloved disciple seem to know no end — Thomas, James, John, Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene, James the Less, Judas (no kidding!) — as a quick Google search will show. However all of these ideas rely on this-or-that non-Bible source, as does the man-made John tradition, so Ps. 118:8 should be a clear word of caution to those who would promote these ideas or blindly follow other men in believing them.

  2. Mark D. Roberts Says:
    March 18th, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Jim: Wow. This is a hot button issue for you. I’ve checked your website and read your lengthy and thorough exposition. In fact, I’m aware of strong arguments in favor of Lazarus as the writer of the Fourth Gospel. One of my favorite biblical scholars, Ben Witherington, argues that Lazarus wrote this gospel, not John. So it’s certainly possible, perhaps even likely. In the end, however, the important thing is that whoever wrote the Fourth Gospel was inspired by the Spirit to write the truth.

  3. Kirstin Says:
    March 22nd, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Wouldn’t James, the brother of Jesus, have been responsible for Mary? Or was Jesus showing that his disciples were closer to him than his siblings? I’ve never understood this passage.


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