The Perfect Son

John 19:25-27

Tom Pennington  •  March 29, 2015
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Well this morning, I encourage you to take your Bibles and turn with me to John, the Gospel of John. As you're turning, let me just say, I hope you will take advantage of that reading, sort of, guide for this Passion Week. They're available both in the foyer and also the digital version is there online on our website; I encourage you to follow along.

You know, it's important that we as Christians understand that while we enjoy Christmas, we enjoy celebrating the birth of Christ, it is this season that is really the center of our lives as believers, because this is why He came. We celebrate this week, His death, which is why He came, to redeem us from sin through the sacrifice of Himself and then the third day the Father raising Him from the dead. So I hope in your own personal life you will commit to making this week central in your thoughts and in your mind. I hope in your family you'll do that and I hope even in our corporate worship you'll join us for the Good Friday services where we take of the Lord's Table and remember His death, and then again next Sunday on Resurrection Sunday.

Well, this morning I do want us to step away from the Book of Romans, this Sunday and next, and today I want us to look at the Gospel of John. It is truly a unique gospel. Some early sources tell us that John wrote his gospel at the request of the Ephesian elders where he ministered toward the end of his life. And they asked him to write it in order to preserve what he knew as the last living apostle and an eye witness of the life and ministry of our Lord. They wanted John to record the stories that were not included in the earlier gospels that had been written in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The content of the gospels, by the way, bear this out. Mark, for example, has seven percent unique material. That is, only seven percent of Mark's gospel is unique to him, material that's not in the other gospel records. Matthew has approximately 35 percent unique material. Luke has about 50 percent unique material. John has 93 percent material that is unique to him.

So John then deliberately chose material that was not found in the synoptic gospels although all three of them existed by the time he wrote his gospel. In fact, prior to the events of the Passion Week in the life of our Lord, John records only two incidents that are also in the synoptic gospels, the feeding of the 5,000 and the walking on the water. Also amazing to me is that when you look at all of the events in the Gospel of John they occurred on not more than 20 days in the life of our Lord. And he devotes seven entire chapters, chapters 13 to 19, to just 24 hours in our Lord's life, Thursday night through Friday of the Passion Week.

Now, over the last couple of Easters we have studied together some of Jesus's sayings on the cross. Today I want us to look at one of those sayings, the third of them; it is unique to John. One of the unique stories that John does record in his gospel happened on the morning of the crucifixion, somewhere between nine and noon on that Friday. We looked, two years ago, at Jesus's first saying from the cross. It was the prayer for forgiveness in Luke 23 where He asks the Father to forgive those who crucified Him. The second word we looked at last year, the promise to the repentant thief, also in Luke 23 where the thief asked the Lord to remember him and Jesus says that he would that day be with Him in paradise.

Today I want us to consider the third saying of Jesus from the cross. It is the tender provision for His mother Mary. Let's read it together. John 19 and I'll begin reading in verse 25.

Therefore the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

Now, on a purely factual level, the point of these brief verses is very straightforward. Jesus here ensures that His mother will be cared for after His death and after His ascension. But the story itself is truly compelling, filled with human emotion and drama, and the spiritual lessons that lie behind the surface of this incident are truly immense.

So, I want us to look together, in the moments that we have, at the parts of this most unusual story to find itself on the pages of the gospel record. First of all, let's consider Jesus's unusual circumstances. It was truly an unusual set of circumstances in which these verses unfold. Verse 25 says, "Therefore the soldiers did these things." Obviously, John the Apostle is looking back at the previous verses. He's looking back at what had already transpired.

Between nine and noon on that Friday is when these words were said, but already on that Friday it had been an extraordinary few hours. When light had first begun to show in the eastern sky, somewhere around 5:00 am to 5:30 am, the Sanhedrin had hurriedly gathered to meet in its official chambers on the Temple Mount in order to formalize the charge against Jesus that had been arrived at the previous early morning hours around 2:00 am at the home of Caiaphas. This is what is called the third Jewish trial, about 5:00 or 5:30 am on that Friday morning.

They quickly reached a formal verdict of guilty on the charge of blasphemy because both at that second Jewish trial at 2:00 am that morning, as well as at this third formal trial, they asked Jesus under oath, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?" to which Jesus replied, "I am." Because they didn't accept His claims they charged Him with blasphemy and they sentenced Him to death for His supposed blasphemy.

Those Jewish trials were quickly followed by three Roman trials that took place somewhere between 5:30 am and 9 am when He was crucified. This could happen because where they occurred was very compact, very close together in the city of Jerusalem. These trials, the Roman or civil trials, alternated between Herod's palace, the courtyard of the Praetorium, and the large agora, or marketplace, just to the east of Herod's palace, called the pavement.

The first Roman trial was before Pilot. The Jews brought Him straight from the Sanhedrin's meeting on the Temple Mount to the Praetorium. Pilot always set up court early in the morning on that pavement outside of the Praetorium. When he heard the charges, knowing what they were about, he decided, when he heard Jesus was from Galilee, to transfer him to Herod. Just inside the Praetorium Herod was there, Herod Antipas, for the celebration of Passover and Pilot knew this, so he sends Him immediately in to Herod. The second Roman trial was before Herod Antipas then. You remember, Herod wanted Jesus to do some miracle as a trick, Jesus refused, and so he had his soldiers mock Jesus, treat Him with contempt, put a gorgeous robe on Him, and then when they were done with their fun they sent Jesus back out into the courtyard to Pilot.

This brings us to the third Roman trial. Pilot had Jesus scourged and mocked and beaten. In sport, the soldiers put a crown of thorns on His head, a purple robe on Him, this time not a gorgeous robe of royalty, but probably a used, no longer usable Roman soldier's cape. Pilot brings Him out in that deplorable condition, hoping that having scourged Him, seeing Jesus in that kind of condition, the crowd will be open to his setting Him free. But in a travesty of justice, under political pressure from the Jews, Pilot eventually ends up surrendering Jesus to be crucified, even though he has declared Him innocent again and again publicly. He handed Him over to the Roman cohort. The Roman cohort then mocked and beat Jesus and prepared Him for crucifixion. They took Jesus somewhere just before 9 o'clock outside the city wall, just very close to where the Praetorium was, to Golgotha, the place of the skull, and at 9 am Jesus our Lord was crucified.

From 9 am to noon we know some of what transpired. Shortly after they affixed Jesus by nails to that cross-member and shortly after they hoisted that cross-member up and affixed it to the vertical beam that would already have been settled into the earth, Jesus issues His first saying from the cross; it's a prayer of forgiveness. "'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.'" The soldiers are still finishing up their duties of crucifixion. They post the charge above Jesus head, written in several languages so that everyone will know that He is being executed for His claim to be the King of the Jews. They divide up His clothes and then they gamble for the carefully, beautifully woven tunic so that they don't have to tear it into pieces, at the feet of Jesus. All those present are mocking Jesus. We have a number of examples in the gospel record of what they said.

And somewhere near the end of those three morning hours is the second saying, because when they were crucified, both thieves crucified with Jesus were ridiculing Him. But at some point in the morning, before the noon hour arrives, the second thief begins to realize who Jesus really is. In a work of grace, he comes to see his sin, he comes to see the worthiness of Jesus, and he cries out, "'Lord, remember me when You enter into Your kingdom.'" To which Jesus issues the second saying from the cross, "'Today you will be with Me in paradise.'"

Then before noon comes the third saying, that I want us to examine this morning. At noon a supernatural darkness covered the entire land until his death and the record tells us that nothing really happened in that darkness from 12 until 3 pm, but near 3 pm a number of things occurred in quick succession. Out of the darkness we're told, "Jesus cried out with a loud voice," the idea is really with a scream, "'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'" The fourth saying from the cross. Followed shortly by the fifth saying, "'I'm thirsty.'" And then the sixth saying came at the end, "'It is finished,'" tetelestai, it's done, it's accomplished. And then at the moment of His death, the seventh saying, "'Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.'"

At 3 pm, as the Passover lambs were being slain in the Temple nearby, Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb, gave up His Spirit. God ripped the veil in the Temple from top to bottom. A massive earthquake occurred and tombs were opened. And on Sunday, after our Lord's resurrection, some of the saints would be raised from those open tombs. And in response to all of this drama, around 3 o'clock that afternoon, the Centurion and his three fellow soldiers were converted and embraced Jesus Christ as Lord. In an amazing work of God's sovereign grace, the four men assigned to crucify our Lord will be in heaven. What a picture of His saving of us.

I want us this morning to go back to just before noon on that Friday morning and to the third saying from the cross, the saying that came before the darkness. John describes the circumstances for us in verse 25, "But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." You know, we often talk about who wasn't at the cross. We know who wasn't there. We know that most of Jesus's followers weren't there. We know that 10 of the 11 surviving Apostles weren't there, only John. We know the rest of Jesus's family wasn't there.

But who exactly was at the Cross that day, representing Jesus's followers? Well, when you piece the gospel record together we discover there were actually quite a few. Mark, for example, in Mark 15:40-41 says that, "There were also some women looking on from a distance," this is at the moment of His death, "some women looking on from a distance, among whom," and then he names three, so there were a number more than three, "and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem." So there was a sizable crowd of women followers, female followers of Jesus, who were there at a distance.

Luke adds this in Luke 23:49, "all His acquaintances and the women who accompanied Him from Galilee were standing at a distance, seeing these things." Now obviously, in that context, "all His acquaintances" must be referring to men because they're separated from "the women." We don't know who these men were, but obviously John the Apostle was one of them, perhaps, we could guess, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, both of whom would take the body of Christ and bury it later that afternoon, maybe Lazarus, whose home was just over the hill in Bethany, maybe other nameless disciples.

Now, Mark tells us that at the time of Jesus's actual death, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, all of these followers were watching the scene unfold from a distance. But John here tells us that while Jesus was still alive, certainly in the morning hours before the darkness, four of these women were standing near the cross with John the Apostle. Note the four that he mentions. First of all, verse 25 says, "His mother," clearly a reference to Mary the Mother of Jesus.

You know, we read these accounts and I'm afraid sometimes we don't really appreciate the drama that's unfolded. This was Jesus's mother. You who are mothers, imagine standing at the foot of the cross of your son watching him tortured to death. But Jesus was more than merely her son. He had become her Lord; she was a disciple of His. And so Mary is watching her oldest son and her Lord die, and remember at this point the disciples don't understand the resurrection. They don't get that.

And so you can only imagine what must have been going through Mary's heart and mind. I'm sure as she stood there, in that hour of her own personal darkness, she must have recalled back to the beginning of Jesus's life when she took Jesus to the Temple and there they met a godly old man who spoke of the Messiah and that Jesus was that Messiah and her heart was filled with joy. But then that old man Simeon looked her in the eye and he said, "and a sword will pierce your own soul as well." She knew that's exactly what was happening.

With Mary there were three other women as well. Notice, "His mother's sister," Mary's sister. Now, Matthew and Mark describe these three women in different ways, although they're all apparently the same three women. In all of the lists two of the three women are identical, so we know who they are. Mary Magdalene, we'll talk about her in a moment, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, or Joseph he's sometimes called. And it's likely, almost certain, that the third woman in all those gospels is the same person.

So, we can put together what each of them tells us and, sort of, put together a portrait of this woman. Matthew tells us that this third woman was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of Jesus's disciples James and John. Mark gives us her name, it's Salome. And John here adds another important fact about Salome, the mother of James and John, the wife of Zebedee. She, we learn here, was also Mary's sister, Jesus's mother's sister. Now think about this for a moment, you've got to draw the family tree with me. That means that James and John were Jesus's cousins, and Salome, standing at the foot of the cross, was not only Mary's sister, she was Jesus's aunt.

Now, the third woman is called "Mary the wife of Clopas." We really don't know anything about Clopas other than what we read in an extra-biblical account. Eusebius, the church historian, quotes an earlier writer from the church as saying that Clopas was the brother of Joseph, Jesus's earthly father. We don't know whether that's true or not, but that's what has been written in the past. Both Matthew and Mark refer to this Mary, that's here called "the wife of Clopas," as "the mother of James the Less" and "the mother of Joses," or "Joseph," as one gospel puts it. So, all we really know about this woman is that she had two sons, apparently well known in the early church, "James the Less," probably a reference either to his height or to his age, "and Joses," or Joseph.

And then the fourth woman you'll notice in verse 25 is Mary Magdalene. This is a woman we're very familiar with, she occurs often in the gospel record. Magdalene simply tells us where she's from. Magdala was a small fishing village on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. That's where she came from. More interesting to us is her spiritual background, which Luke gives to us in Luke 8:2. He says that, "Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out." This was a wealthy woman, as we'll see in a moment, from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons. He had freed her from her sin and from the demonic power in her life and she became His devoted disciple.

Now, who were these women? Well, they were part of a larger group of women who were there that day that Mark describes in this way, Mark 15:41, "when Jesus was in Galilee, these women used to follow Him and minister to Him," so they were from Galilee. "They used to follow Him," in other words, these were Jesus's faithful disciples. Undoubtedly, all of these women had been saved under His Galilean ministry, and "they used to minister to Him," Mark says. The Greek word for minister is the word from which we get our word deacon. They served Him, they cared for Him.

Let me show you the specific way that they did this. Turn back to Luke 8. Luke 8, we meet these women here as well. Luke 8:1, "Soon afterwards, He began," Jesus began, "going around from one city and village," there in Galilee, "to another." This was His Galilean campaign, His tour, preaching in all the synagogues around Galilee, "proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God." And, as you might expect, "The twelve were with Him." And also with Him on this preaching tour,

some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others [notice this] who were contributing to their support out of their private means.

So although Jesus's ministry really touched the poor in a huge way, it is clear that there were also many wealthy and influential people who became His followers and they, in turn, used their means to support His ministry. This is who these women were.

Now, go back to John 19. Sometime before noon on that Friday, John and these four women had come from the distance where they had stood through His crucifixion, through the initial phases of His crucifixion, and where they would go back toward the end of His crucifixion; they came to the foot of the cross, John and these four. Those were the unusual circumstances surrounding this third saying.

Now, I want you to notice, secondly, Jesus's unlikely provision. It's really unexpected what Jesus does here. Look at verse 26, "When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!'" Now, understand that Jesus's genuine concern for Mary in this situation was perfectly understandable. When we read this interchange it just makes perfect sense to us. You remember Jesus at this point is in His early 30's. He began His ministry around 30, He had a ministry of about three and a half years, so He's in His early thirty's when this occurs. Mary had likely been a teenager when she had given birth to Jesus. So when you do the math it means Mary is now somewhere between 45 and 55 years old. She's a widow at this point and she has no income, in that culture no way to have a trade to make a living. So it makes perfect sense then that Jesus would be concerned for her future and that He would appoint someone to care for her.

Now, Jesus's expected choice in this circumstance was obvious. Jesus was the oldest son in the family and He should therefore pass on the responsibility for caring for His mother to one of His many siblings. That's right, Jesus had a number of siblings. Turn back to Mark's gospel. Mark 6 and notice verse 1. Jesus comes back to Nazareth, back to His hometown, His disciples were with Him. And, verse 2, "When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and many of the listeners were astonished." Remember, this is the hometown crowd. The City of Nazareth at the time of Jesus probably had about as many people in it as are seated in this room at this moment, the entire town. Jesus comes back as the hometown boy made good and He is now preaching at the synagogue and their response is astonishment. "'Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and how does He perform such miracles?'" Verse 3, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas," or Jude, "and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?' And they took offense at Him."

Now, notice here we learn a lot about Jesus's family. Mark lists for us four brothers and he refers to sisters, plural. Now, what that means is that Jesus was the oldest in a family of at least seven children and perhaps more if he had more than two sisters. All we're told is sisters, plural, could have been two, had to be at least two, could have been more, so a family of at least seven kids.

Now, there are several other implications about Jesus's family in this verse. First of all, notice that Joseph had died. He's not mentioned here, he's not mentioned once in Jesus's entire ministry. Joseph was obviously still living when Jesus was 12, in the incident at the Temple, but there is absolutely no mention of Joseph after that. Most Bible scholars, most commentators agree that probably shortly after that temple incident, Joseph died.

Thirdly, we're told here in this text that Jesus had taken over the family business. In Matthew Jesus is called the son of a carpenter. But here, Mark refers to Him as "the carpenter," the crowd there at Nazareth does. That means that before Jesus began His ministry at about the age of 30 He had taken over the family business from Joseph after his death and He had worked six days a week as the law required in order to support His family. That responsibility would have been His.

It also means that Jesus led the family. After Joseph's death, Jesus, who according to Jewish understanding became a man at the age of 13 at His bar mitzvah, He would have been the oldest man in the home. It would have been His responsibility culturally not only to have provided for the family, but also to lead the family and to teach His younger siblings the Scripture. He would have followed what Deuteronomy 6 lays out for every father, not as the real father of those children, but as their surrogate dad. I can assure you, no family ever had a better teacher. No family ever had a more consistent example. No family ever had a person in the role of leadership who more accurately demonstrated the character of God the Father. He prepared His siblings for life. I can assure you, as he took on this role that was His, He was the perfect parent.

We don't usually think about Jesus's life before His ministry, but honestly it was a whole lot like ours. He had to balance, for all those years, supporting His family six days a week, working and making various farm implements and other things from wood. He had to balance that with His ministry; He often taught in the local synagogue there in Nazareth. He was the leader in His family; He was their spiritual leader, their counselor, their comforter. At times, I can assure you, because the rest of the children in the family weren't perfect, that He had to confront their sin. Jesus essentially raised at least six children. You know parents, I find great comfort in that because it means that our Lord understands experientially what we face each day and He can give us the grace to do it. He can give us the strength and the wisdom from His word to carry it out.

So why didn't Jesus then, pass on the responsibility for Mary's care to one of His younger brothers? Well, they were apparently not in Jerusalem for this feast of Passover. They're not mentioned anywhere. More likely, they were at home according to chapter 2 verse 12, likely that was Capernaum.

But there's another more important reason why Jesus bypassed His brothers for John. Because whenever Jesus siblings first came to understand that their older brother was more than the human son of Mary and Joseph, whenever they came to understand that His claims were much greater, they all refused to believe in Him. Now that's shocking on the face of it, isn't it? And it shows that the Spirit of God has to bring someone to life. They lived with perfection and they didn't believe in Him. In fact, they thought, later in His ministry, that He was crazy.

In Mark 3:21 He was engaged in ministry to the extent that He couldn't even take time out to eat. The crowds were pressing in on Him. Houses were packed, fields were packed with people, and He was ministering and healing constantly, and He wasn't even taking time to guard His health. And Mark 3:21 says, "When His own people," His brothers, "heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him," to seize Him by force, "for they were saying, 'He's lost His senses.'" He's out of His mind. Who does He think He is?

In fact, their attitude became very clear six months before His crucifixion. John records the incident in John 7 and this is John's conclusion in verse 5 of John 7, "not even His brothers were believing on Him." How sad for Jesus, to have His own family reject His claims.

This is probably why, at the cross, Jesus is going to assign John the responsibility to care for Mary. We know theologically that Jesus willingly limited the independent exercise of His attributes during His ministry. He didn't just pull out His omniscience to satisfy His curiosity; He lived as a human. He only exercised those things under the direction of the Spirit and so it may well be that Jesus didn't know that His brothers would ever believe in Him. He may have died thinking that those He had loved for, cared for, taught would always reject Him.

If you've ever had a child walk out on the faith, if you've ever had a child turn his or her back on all you've tried to teach them, walk away from everything that you hold precious, Jesus knows from personal experience what that's like. But there's also a powerful reminder in His story and that is, parents don't give up, because eventually His brothers will call Him Lord. Your children's story is not yet finished.

Jesus's actual choice was not the obvious one; it was John. And I want you to consider Jesus's choice. Remember, from what we've just learned that John was Jesus's cousin and therefore Mary's nephew. That meant that John was the closest believing male relative. And so you can understand then why our Lord's decision makes sense on so many levels. And understand too, that Jesus here is not merely caring for His mother, that is, for one of His human family. He is also caring for one of His disciples. We see in this His care and love for us as well.

You remember what Jesus Himself said when His mother and brothers were standing outside that crowded house trying to see Him and they said your mother or your brother are outside? In Mark 3:33, Jesus said,

"Who are My mother and My brothers?" Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, [His disciples,] He said, "Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, He is My brother and sister and mother."

Listen, if you're in Christ you are Jesus's brother or sister or mother and He cares for you just as much as He cared for His own human mother. By asking John to care for Mary, Jesus was reminding us that often, for those of us in Christ, our fellow believers are our real family and our closest family.

Now, let's look at the transaction itself, verse 26,

When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved [that is, John] standing nearby, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!"

Now, notice first of all His address to Mary, He calls her "woman." That's a title of respect in the first century; it's not nearly as cold as it sounds in English. Perhaps the best rendering would be something like this, "Dear woman" or "Dear lady." Jesus is intentionally distancing Himself from Mary here. He wants her to see that the relationship that matters most now is not the fact that she brought Him into the world, that she is His mother, but rather that He is her Lord and she His disciple. "Dear lady."

Now, the words Jesus uses here, "Behold, your son!" "Behold, your mother!" seem pretty strange to us. But what's interesting is that those words are very, very similar to a first century legal adoption ceremony. As the transaction was enacted, these words, very similar words, would be spoken. It's like Jesus is having John adopt His mother.

Which, by the way, makes the Roman Catholic interpretation of this event completely nonsensical. The Roman Catholic Church teaches here that rather than making John responsible for Mary, Jesus is here making Mary responsible for John and for the rest of Jesus's disciples throughout history. Believe it or not, it is out of this text that Mary becomes, in Roman Catholic theology, a co-mediator with Christ, and even, for a former Pope, a co-redemptrix. Nothing could be further from the obvious meaning of this passage than that. Jesus is here asking John to care for His mother.

John's obedience was immediate and unquestioning. Look at verse 27, "From that hour the disciple took her into his own household." From the day of the crucifixion John took Mary, literally, "into his own things." She became part of his family, his mother, to love and to care for. The last time Mary is mentioned in the New Testament is in Acts 1:14 where 120 of Jesus's disciples are gathered in the upper room waiting for Pentecost, and it says they "were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus," and I love this, "and with His brothers."

The Lord willing, next Easter I've already planned to do a message on one of the greatest evidences of the resurrection, the conversion of the skeptic, Jesus's brother James. He grew up in Jesus's home. He saw Jesus every day. He saw His perfection lived out and he didn't believe on Him until he saw the resurrected Jesus Christ, and then he writes and calls Him, "My Lord."

We don't know for sure what happened to Mary after that Acts 1 reference. There are two separate traditions that have taken on in the church. One tradition says she lived with John in Jerusalem for 11 years until her death at the age of 59. According to this tradition John refused to leave Jerusalem as a long as she survived. It was only then that he left and went to Ephesus. The other tradition says that Mary, soon after all of this, moved with John to Ephesus and died there and her tomb is somewhere in the vicinity of Ephesus. We really don't know. But what we do know is this, John tells us here, the Apostle John made sure from that Friday on, as long as she lived, that she was cared for.

Now what are the lessons from this remarkable story? What are we supposed to learn from this story? There are three of them. Let me give them to you briefly. Number one, Jesus's example shows us that we too must always honor and care for our parents. William Barclay writes, "There is something infinitely moving in the fact that Jesus, in the agony of the cross, in the moment when the salvation of the world hung in the balance, thought of the loneliness of His mother in the days when He was taken away. Jesus never forgot the duties that were laid to His hand." You see, our spiritual responsibilities will never be as great as those of Jesus. Our earthly obligations, we will never have the same level of responsibility He had. And yet in the middle of all of that He cared for His surviving parent, His mother. This is what we're commanded to do as well.

Turn to 1 Timothy 5, Paul is talking about, under the inspiration of the Spirit, the widows the church is to support, verse 3 of 1 Timothy 5, "Honor widows who are widows indeed." That is, those who have no other means of support, no family, they're truly widows and they have, he goes on to say, been faithful in serving Christ throughout their lives. Verse 4, "but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they," that is, those children or grandchildren, "must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God."

If you're a follower of Jesus Christ, you have an obligation, a responsibility to care for your aging parents and grandparents. That sometimes will mean in your home, sometimes their care will require they're not being in your home, but regardless, we must make sure they are cared for and that they are loved and honored all the days of their life. That's our responsibility. In fact, verse 8 says, "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." This is our duty and Jesus set such a clear example. He's dying for the sins of the world and He's caring for His aging mother.

Secondly, Jesus's example shows us that we need the gospel. You see, by contrast in how Jesus acts here, He shows us that our disobedience to our parents, our disrespect of our parents, that those things are sinful and they deserve God's eternal wrath. You see, we see Jesus's love for His mother, we see His care for her, and we see a demonstration of how we should respond to our parents and should have responded consistently through our whole lives and yet did not.

If we haven't been the perfect sons as Jesus was or if we haven't been the perfect daughters, when we have disobeyed our parents, and we all have, when we have dishonored them, when we have been disrespectful of them outwardly, or when we have harbored disrespect for them in our hearts without expressing it, in all of those cases, understand this, every single time it was rebellion against God our Creator who set those authorities in place, who providentially put us within those homes. It's not that parents always deserve this honor and respect, but we are commanded to give it.

The fifth commandment in Exodus 20:12 says, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you." Listen, you are commanded and so am I, if you're in the home of your parents, if they are supporting you, you're living there, you're under their care and authority, you are responsible to obey them and regardless, you're responsible to respect them in your thoughts and with your words and your tone and how you act to them.

You say, how serious is this? Well, it's one of the Ten Commandments; it's one of the summaries of God's requirements of us as human beings. But let me tell you how serious it is, in James 2:10, James says this, "Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one, he has become guilty of all." In other words, think of it like this, if you went through your entire life living it perfectly but all you did was disobey and dishonor and disrespect your parents, your guilt and mine would be sufficient on that basis for God to condemn us to eternal hell.

So, even how Jesus, in the moment of His greatest pain and suffering, loves and respects and cares for His mother, points out by contrast our failure to honor and to respect our parents, and it shows each of us how desperately we need the gospel. We normally think of Jesus dying for those, sort of, big sins. Well guess what, this is a big sin. Jesus was dying on the cross to secure salvation for those, who as Paul puts it in his letter to Timothy, are disobedient to parents.

There's a third lesson from this remarkable story and it's that Jesus's care for His mother is part of the perfect righteousness necessary for our salvation. You see, this is a remarkable story in and of itself, a story filled with human pathos and drama, but John didn't have to include this story. In fact, he had almost limitless material to choose from. Look at the last verse of John's Gospel, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." There was so much John could have written. John's problem was not finding enough material. John's problem was limiting what he included. So why did he? Well, he explains in the previous chapter, chapter 20, look at verse 30,

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written [in other words, John says, I included these] so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

So the question is, how does the passage we just studied about Jesus caring for His mother, how does it serve John's reason for writing? It's this. Even this seemingly insignificant act is at the very center of God's plan of redemption. How? Because it shows that to the very end of Jesus's life, even in the worst of circumstances, He was still perfectly keeping God's Law for us. It illustrates that He was qualified to die in our place because He was the perfect Son. He was the perfectly righteous One. He did everything like He was supposed to do it. He never disobeyed, He never disrespected. He always cared for His parents and He did everything else the law required as well. And here is a picture that He was eminently qualified to die in our place because He was the perfect Son.

It also says this, for those of us in Christ, God can take that perfect life of obedience and credit it to our account so that now when God looks at me, He sees me as the perfect son. If you're in Christ, He sees you as the perfect daughter, not because of your righteousness but because of Christ's. No wonder John included this tender moment. This story reminds us of our sin and our need of a Savior. And it reminds us of Jesus's perfect qualifications to be that Savior and to die in our place. Because He was the perfect Son. Let's pray together.

Father, we are moved in our spirits by examining the perfection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You Father, for including, under the inspiration of Your Spirit, this account, it's such a human story, shows us the humanity of our Lord and yet Father, it shows us His perfect humanity.

Thank You that it shows us how qualified He really was to die for us because He was the perfectly righteous One and therefore eminently qualified to take the place of the guilty, to suffer for our disobedience to our parents, for our disrespect, for our angry words, for our hatred, for our bitterness. Father, thank You for the reminder as well, that that perfection of His, in grace, has become ours and now You see us as having lived that kind of life.

Father, I pray for those here this morning who don't yet know You through Your Son. Father, may even this simple story help them to see how desperate their true condition is, that if all they ever did was disrespect their parents, You would condemn them to eternal hell. And may this day they run to the perfect One in whom is found salvation. May they repent of their sins and put their faith in Him as their Lord and Savior, even this day. We pray in Jesus's name, amen.