Standing by the Cross

Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary’s sister, Mary the wife of Cloppas, and Mary Magdalene stood by the cross in Jesus’ final hour. John mentions his own presence there almost as an afterthought with Jesus requesting that he care for his mother.

The Jewish leaders and people passing by jeer at Jesus. The soldiers gamble for Jesus’ clothing. The Sabbath was fast approaching with sun-down, and the Jewish leaders, though guilty of murder, sought to ensure that the bodies would be removed from the crosses before the Sabbath. The final moments of Jesus’ life approached rapidly. The small crowd gathered by the cross must have known that while death was inevitable at this point, their vigil would be far shorter than they probably expected.

Standing by the cross is lonely business.

Imagine, standing in such a public place, a hill outside the city gate, and identifying yourself with a convicted “criminal,” a criminal dying the most ignominious of deaths. We rightly focus on the suffering of Jesus and the way his death functioned as a sin offering. However, we should remember that very few of Jesus’ followers stood by him in his final hour.

There were five left.

The Jewish leaders must have felt pretty good about themselves.

Perhaps Jesus’ mother and Aunt weren’t necessarily even close followers at this point. Even if they were, they could at least be counted as family who wanted to be near a dying relative. As for the other two Mary’s and John, they could only claim an affection for Jesus, a belief in his teachings, and a loyalty to him. That was a dangerous place to be. Their reputations were no doubt soiled by this literal stand.

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