14, Teach Young Women

Meditations in Titus: 14:  Teach younger women

Titus 2:4,5   Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

We now come to the third group who need specific teaching in the local church, the younger women, but there is a difference here. It is not Titus who should be teaching them but the older women. Why not Titus? Because he’s not a woman, not a wife and not a mother. The best he could hope to do would be to speak theory, but the older ladies come with a wealth of knowledge and experience from having been homemakers, from having been wives, and from having been mothers, and having gone through the trials and tribulations that such roles entail. I am saddened whenever I come across a couple who have chosen not to have children because they will come to the end of their lives having missed out on so much, and so much of that will be the things that change and sanctify us.

Now when you start looking in detail at this teaching from Paul, he says the older women should ‘train’ the younger women. That is not merely passing on information, it is being alongside to bring about change in behaviour. When you ‘train’ someone you teach them to do something practically and you cannot be any more practical than when you are raising a family. There are six things these younger women are to be trained to do.

  1. To love their husbands and children. The basis of a marriage is love and we may think that is natural but why is it that we have so many divorces today? The answer has got to be because the couple allowed love to grow cold. To hold a marriage together and to create an environment in which to raise children requires effort to maintain love because love has a sacrificial element to it and also a practical element to it. When children are having a tantrum it is the mother’s love that hangs in there and sees past it and is still just there for them. In older people if someone threw a tantrum you would walk away and leave them to it and possibly the relationship might end, but when you are committed to someone, as the mother is, as the wife has said she will be, then you hang in there and are not deterred by glitches along the way.
  1. To be self-controlled. The mother carries all the daily pressures of the marriage and of bringing up the children. Traditionally the man was the breadwinner and she was the homemaker. He could escape the drudgery of being there with the children all the time, being up in the night with the latest baby, and so on, by going out to work. She is there performing what can be the most fulfilling vocation in the world – but which can at times be hard and stressful. Self wants to rise up and scream out, ‘”Let me out of here!” but if she is to be there for them all, then she needs self-control to hang in there and be a rock for her young family. How tragic many modern families are who have not learned this.
  1. And (to be) pure. We have already said that the wife-mother is the creator of the home environment to which the husband returns at the end of the day and the children live in. It is an environment where they should experience love and feel secure, where they are cared for and provided for. Observe the difference in two people, one who has had a loving family life and the other who had either a hostile family life or none at all. They are different people and so much of the difference is because of their experience of life in (or out of) a family. We often think purity is only in respect of sexual matters but I suggest that it should include anything that might pollute life, bad attitudes, poor moral standards, playing with the occult, so many things that can pollute the little minds she cares for and disturbs the environment she is creating.
  1. To be busy at home. I suspect that many of these words must be alien to many modern young women who have been deceived into believing that fulfilment can only come through a career. No wonder we have so many shallow or fragmented family situations. Our materialism has lead us to believe we can only live off two incomes. Perhaps the greatest picture of an industrious women is that amazing chapter 31 of Proverbs (or at least verses 10-31) This woman makes most career women look mere beginners when it comes to achievement. She is amazing! And her family is blessed – because of her! The call to be busy challenges idleness. We may think we have labour saving devices and need to do less but that misses the point. She is industrious and she is fulfilled and her family is blessed. How many children just get the dregs or leftovers of their tired mother’s life today?
  1. To be kind. Look ‘kind’ up in a dictionary and you find such words as ‘sympathetic, friendly, gentle, tenderhearted, generous, cordial, loving; affectionate.’ It’s not a word we use much today but it covers who whole spectrum of good attitudes and good behaviour and speaks of the nature of the wife-mother and of the environment at home that she creates.
  1. Subject to their husbands. Don’t confuse this with being servile. I have encountered wives in Jewish culture and in Indian culture, wives who are indeed subject to their husbands but who rule their home. They are the power house of the home and although they respect and honour the husband and give him pride of place in the family (which builds and changes him for good), they all know who is the power in the home! The woman of wisdom recognizes her husband’s need of esteem and recognizes she can be the prime provider of that for him but her wisdom also makes her a queen in this place.

But then Paul finishes with a reason for all this: “so that no one will malign the word of God.”   In the community the family is so often identified through the wife. She (traditionally at least) is the one who is around and she is the one the other wives, and therefore other members of the community, will speak about. She is the one who so often, in the eyes of the community at least, conveys the integrity of the family. The way she lives, the way she is a wife, and the way she is a mother will either add to her testimony as a believer or detract from it. Paul says these things so that she will not detract from her testimony.

As I have said, I have a feeling that of any meditation, this particular one will feel alien to the modern young women, which is sad because it indicates that we have lost something of the wonder of God’s design for families, in the name of freedom and fulfilment. We are realising more and more that so called freedom in respect of sex is destroying the realities of having real relationships and experiencing real love. One of these days we will wake up to the poverty of modern family life in comparison to the possibilities of God’s design for it. We have often said in respect of Christian leaders that the order needs to be God, first, family second and the ministry third. For wives we might slightly change that to God first, family second and career third. To abandon that order means poverty of ‘life’. Please ponder on that.

7. Families

Meditating on the Wonders of the Ten Commandments:  7. Families

Ex 20:12   Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Deut 5:16  Honour your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Eph 6:1-3  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise– “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

The fifth commandment moves from speaking about a right attitude towards God to having a right attitude towards people. Jesus summed up the Law with, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mt 22:37-39, being a combination quote of Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18) The first four commands are about loving God and the latter 6 about loving everyone else (‘neighbour’ simply means everyone with whom you come in contact.)

But in starting to bring laws that protect humanity, this very first one is about the building block of civilization, which is under such attack today. If the Bible says Satan is a lair and a destroyer (and it does) then we should not be surprised that his strategy in the Last Days is to destroy the basic building block of civilization, families. How many families today in the West are missing a parent (mostly a father) and how many are torn by dissension as parents war against each other and children war against parents. We have ignored this command and we have ignored it at our peril.

The command is simple and straight forward: “Honour your father and your mother.” The big question is what does ‘honour’ mean? First of all it means to esteem or think highly of (see Prov 4:8). It is also in scripture linked with caring for or protecting (see Psa 91:15) and it certainly has a ‘respect’ element to it (Lev 19:3). Indeed the opposite of respecting and honouring might be considered to be cursing and the Law specified the death penalty for cursing your parents (Lev 20:9); that is how significant this is. Rank ongoing disobedience and rebellion also brought the death penalty (Deut 21:18-21), Those latter verses end with a significant, “You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.” (Deut 21:21).

So honouring includes respecting, obeying, esteeming, caring for and protecting (these latter two apply more obviously in older age). Of course there are two sides to every relationship and parents are charged with loving and caring for their children and Paul’s instruction to fathers is not to be overbearing in disciplining them: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph 6:4) In passing, it is interesting to note that in the past forty years, say, the roles of fathers appear to have changed dramatically, sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better. For the worse, many fathers abandon their children through separation and divorce. For better, many fathers take a much greater part in looking after and caring for their children. Where the father stays with the family, the picture of the distant Victorian father who has little emotional attachment to their children, is rare.

Now we have already indicated how important this simple command is to God by the references to the death penalty for cursing parents and for ongoing outright disobedience and rebellion resulting in a dissolute life (that’s what the Law indicates) but the second part of the command further shows this. In the original impartation of this command on Sinai, it simply says, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Ex 20:12) The apostle Paul spoke of this as “the first commandment with a promise.”  The promise is of ongoing blessing in their new land IF they followed this law. We have already referred to the family as the basic building block of civilisation and it most certainly was, in God’s eyes, as they settled in the Land.

In repeating this on the plains before they entered the Land, Moses slightly changed it to, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deut 5:16) which separates the original, “so that you may live long in the land,” into “so that you may live long” AND “ that it may go well with you in the land.” Length of life indicates God’s blessing generally and reference to going well in the land also implies His ongoing blessing on their life and security in the Land. However you look at it, God promises blessing on those who hold to this command and, by inference, curses those who don’t.

The apostle Paul expands this double promise to apply to us who don’t live in the Land to, ““that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  When he says, “that it may go well with you,” he is referring to the daily lives we live, under God’s blessing, and of course the latter part of the verse refers to length of life.

The message is very clear: family division that comes from children breaking away from their parents is NOT God’s will. There is a message here that many modern children would do well to heed. The cry of the defence is always, “You don’t know my parents!” True, but psychologists tell us that when children reach their teenage years they start to sense their uniqueness, i.e. that they are distinct from their parents, and they seek to show their independence. How they do that is all important and it is also important that parents give them space for them to become themselves. They can rebond with us when they have done this, but they do need to do this, and this is the danger zone when it comes to this command which still applies today!

Learning who you are, young person, does not mean you have to demeans or reject your parents. Yes, they were less than perfect but so will you be this side of heaven. Nevertheless, they were there for you (hopefully). If they weren’t then you have much greater need of the Lord’s grace to cope with that. Something I have observed over the years, is that the revelation of what the parent was going through sometimes helps. It doesn’t excuse them leaving you, but it may help in understanding and if and when they seek your forgiveness, it makes giving it easier. Don’t ever say, “I will never forgive them,” for you step out beyond the Lord’s love at that point. With God’s grace you can, as and when they come seeking it. Honour them by seeking God’s grace to be able to say, “I do” if and when they should come asking for forgiveness. This is a minefield in the present age, so don’t let the strategy and works of the enemy ruin your life. God’s grace is there to enable you to comply with this law, as difficult as that sometimes seems. Confronting with grace and talking through the past with grace, may bring a healing to your relationship and his life (it is usually in respect of the disserting father) and healing within the whole wider community.

Thank the Lord that His grace is available to us today through Jesus to counter the lies and works of the enemy who seeks to destroy our lives and communities. May we receive that grace to do that.

4. Good Advice

Short Meditations in John 2:  4. Good Advice

Jn 2:5    His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

There are times when a verse or piece of Scripture almost seems too simple to heed. Mary has brought to Jesus’ attention the fact that the wedding party has run out of wine. We might wonder, in retrospect, if the son of God ever needed anything drawing to his attention! Nevertheless she has done so and he has declined to do anything about it, but perhaps she knows her son and has faith in him that he will not see a need and not do something about it. Whatever is in her thinking she simply says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now this suggests she has a relationship with the wedding party whereby she could give orders to the servants and they would obey, or was she simply someone of such stature in the community that she was used to giving orders. The possibilities are interesting but we aren’t given any background.  Whatever is the truth, she instructs them accordingly with an instruction which of itself is so simple and, in the light of all that we know of Jesus, must act as the summary of all that is required of a Christian: do what Jesus tells you.

What she thought Jesus might do again is merely a matter of speculation. What Jesus might tell me to do today again is purely a matter for conjecture because until it happens I won’t know. It must have been like that being a disciple of Jesus, wandering around Galilee, following him wherever he went, not knowing what the day would bring, never knowing who they would meet and what Jesus would do.

When the apostle Paul wrote, “We live by faith not by sight,” (2 Cor 5:7) his intent must have been something like this. Where Jesus leads, we follow, what Jesus says, we do, or at least that is how it is supposed to be.  The fact that today we have his word as general guidance and his Spirit for specific daily guidance – and the latter is not always easy to hear – it may be that we sometimes miss it. Yet that surely must be our intention – to do what he says because putting it most simply, the Son of God knows best. His knowledge is unlimited and his wisdom is unlimited and he knows everything there is to know about us, and he knows what is best for us.

I wonder if, in reality, that is how we live our lives as Christians, with the knowledge that Jesus knows best and we need to learn to hear him and then do what he says, whatever area or aspect of our lives it covers, for that surely is what being a disciple is all about.

19. On Schedule

Jesus in John’s Gospel : 19 : Jesus, working to a schedule

Jn 2:3,4 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

Living in the twenty-first century, many of us have highly pressurized schedules.  Work demands press in on us and we feel squeezed by the demands made upon us.  People demand our time or effort and the already heavy schedule becomes heavier still.  We allow ourselves to think that we are indispensable and so we take on more and more.

When we examine the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Gospels, we might expect, with all the power at his call, that Jesus would take any and every opportunity to use that power to bless people, yet the truth is that he seemed to calmly work at what was there and did not allow himself to be put under pressure. In previous meditations we have seen that Jesus does only what he sees his Father doing (Jn 5:19) so if the Father was not moving the Son did not either.  Also, under-girding his ministry was the basic desire to do the Father’s will (Heb 10:7) with a plan decreed before the foundation of the world (1 Pet 1:20). Thus there was purpose with no rush.

Our verse here today does not tell the whole story though. There was a problem at the wedding and Jesus’ mother looked to him to help out in some way.  As a friend of the family and a good mother she is naturally concerned. Jesus’ twofold answer seems to have a human and a divine element to it. The first part seems to ask “What do you expect me to do about it?” but in the light of the second part might be more likely to mean “Don’t go dragging me in, that’s not how it works!” That seems partially at least to be the human side of his reply. The latter part is clearly the divine aspect; it’s like he is saying, “I’m working to my Father’s schedule and he hasn’t indicated He’s going to do anything here.” Now we can only take Jesus’ statements at face value and so as at the end of his statement his intention is not to get involved, yet a few moments later it seems he is instructing the servants. What changed?

The answer has got to be, the following response of his mother: His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (v.5), which is a response of faith.  Now one of the things we need to do is learn to observe when the Father is moving, what are the signs that He is moving?  We suggest that Mary’s response was as a result of the prompting of the Father.  Faith, the Bible says comes from hearing God’s word (Rom 10:17).  In every healing, in every miracle, there is faith – in someone – indicating the Father’s intention to move. Thus Mary’s faith here is the sign of the Father’s intention to move, so the Son instructs accordingly.

So what do we have here?  We have an awareness in Jesus that he is working to a plan which will culminate in his death at the end of three years’ ministry. Within that plan, within that schedule, the controlling issue is what is the Father’s intent for the things immediately before us? So yes, he has a schedule but within that schedule there is movement and flexibility according to the Father’s heart. The Father knew the times perfectly. Time was always significant in Jesus’ ministry: The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near (Mk 1:15), Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come (Jn 7:6) At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come (Jn 7:30). Lessons for us?  Recognise God has a plan which involves time. We need to learn to be sensitive to His moving within that plan!

7. Parents

Lessons from the Law: No.7 : Honour your Parents

Ex 20:12 Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you

The fifth commandment that we have here in our verse today, is a link between the first four that are all about the Lord, and the latter five that are all about relating to the rest of the world. Interestingly it isn’t about the marriage relationship – that comes later – but is about our fundamental attitudes towards our parents. It is almost as if the Lord is pointing out that the most fundamental attitude to be checked out, is that towards our parents. Every single one of us has parents. We may not get married  and we may not have children and so rules in respect of that would be irrelevant to us, but this is an all-encompassing law that applies to everyone one of us.

Now before we move on in this mediation and move on to consider the remaining of the Ten Commandments, I would suggest that if we ignore the first four commands, it is probable that we will ignore the remaining six. The reason I say that is the if you push God out of the equation of your life, you have no foundation upon which to determine what is right or wrong, and very soon selfishness will be the predominating characteristic observed in your life. No longer is it, what is right because it conforms to how we were designed to live best, but now it is simply what do I want, what gives me the most pleasure regardless of the outcome. It is not surprising therefore, that where in Western societies we see the rejection of God, we also find a complete abandoning of the remaining six commandments – and it starts in the family!

Again, before we really get in to focusing on this command, we would do well to note a grave danger that hinders obedience to it. It is the observance of our parents as failures. Tragically we now are in a downward spiral where this appears to get worse and worse. Fifty years ago most families stayed together. Divorce was relatively rare. That didn’t make marriages perfect or even always good, but it did mean at least that the parents were there for the child. Now I believe it true to say that most marriage failures came because of the husband. The wife is emotionally linked to the children but there is not such a strong link for the father.

Men also historically had greater freedom and so when we think back to characteristic ‘bad fathers’ they were those who drank too much or betted too much. Such ‘freedoms’ were not available to the mother who was historically linked to the home. It is probably true to say that infidelity mostly came as initiated by the husband and when there was abandonment of the family, it was by the husband. It is this latter thing which is mostly observed by the children, reinforcing their negative ideas about marriage. Even if it wasn’t something like this, we can all look back to remember the shortcomings of our parents. All of us who are parents fail to be perfect; our children will always have something to feel negative about. It is what living in a fallen world is about – and perhaps that is one of the reasons that Lord places this command before all other commands about relating to others.

The fact is that we cannot disregard this command because out parents were less than perfect. We must leave our parents’ failings for the Lord to deal with. Our call is to ‘honour’ our parents. What does honour mean?  It means to exalt or esteem or acknowledge distinction. Why should a child do this of their parents? First of all, because God says so, and He makes it a condition of a good life! Yes, this command carries an outworking with it: so that you may live long in the land.” Failure to keep this command suggests that our lives will be impaired – the implication IS there! Long life normally comes in Scripture as a result of the blessing of God. If God’s blessing is withheld then life will be limited. Note again what we suggested honouring means: to exalt or esteem or acknowledge distinction. It is a mind thing, an attitude thing first and foremost and then when the attitude is right, right actions will follow.

Now this is not to say that we should be blind to our parents’ shortcomings or even excuse them, but it does mean we put them aside and purpose, nevertheless, to adjust our attitude so that we exalt or esteem them for who they are apart from their sin. Now for some this is very difficult because they may have been abused throughout their childhood by their father. Now this raises lots of other issues, for example about blowing the whistle on their sin. If you have been abused, don’t keep quiet about it. You first of all confront your father with his wrong and if he fails to repent and seek your forgiveness, you share it with your mother or some other close adult. Can you ‘honour’ a father in such circumstances? With immense difficulty and only by the grace of God. If we are a Christian, we still want this man to turn to God and be saved. This is the ultimate of our desires for our parents if they are not Christians, and it may be this desire in particular that motivates you to view your parents through different eyes.

Often in counselling we have seen an individual be shown by the Lord what their parent was really like. One abused daughter in particular in my memory, wept for her father saying, “I didn’t know what he had been through to make him like that.” It did not excuse what he had done but it did explain it and the understanding helped her put aside the years of abuse and cry for his salvation.

Most of us fortunately were not abused physically, but it may have been abuse verbally or by neglect. We don’t excuse it ever, but with God’s help we can explain it, and that may help us be able to put aside the hurt of the past and cry for our parents. There is so much more that could be said but space prohibits it. In Ex 34:7 we find the Lord spoken of as one who punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Ex 34:7) but the truth is that at any time we can turn to the Lord and find forgiveness, cleansing and a new life. We don’t have to take on the sins of our parents which do so often trickle down through the generations. A good sign, seen so often, is the decision of new young parents not to go the way of their parents. With God’s grace you can be different and in so being you can bring honour to your own parents and, if they are still alive, your life can eventually be used by the Lord to change theirs. Now there is a challenge, but make sure your attitude is right to start with.

4. Punishing/Loving

Lessons from the Law: No.4 : Punishing & Loving

Ex 20:5,6 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Quite occasionally we will have a family meal. We invite my wife’s mother (our only surviving parent) who is ninety one, and my daughter and her family which includes two young girls. We have taken photos of the four generations together: a great grandmother (my wife’s mother), a grandmother (my wife), a mother (her daughter), and grandchildren (her daughters), which means three generations of believers (the grandchildren are too young). Paul spoke similarly of Timothy and his family: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also,” (2 Tim 1:5) but there are also families where unbelief or sin runs through the generations. The grandfather is an unbeliever and despises the Lord and his unbelief is carried through the following generations.

The thought of generations comes, somewhat surprisingly, in the midst of these early commandments. In the second commandment the Lord has warned against making idols and bowing down to them. This speaks against a culture of superstitious belief that fearfully sees power in the wind or the sky or in fertility or the sun or the moon or the river. It is a culture that seeks to appease the ‘gods’ by sacrifices of children and other abominable practices, practices that still require wives to be burnt on the funeral pyre of their husbands. These are superstitious practices that are far from the rules of God that bring love, peace, order, safety and security to a community. They are things that are born out of pure superstition, of irrational fears of the unknown. These cultures also relish self-concern which often does nothing for the poor and needy. They allow the rich to become richer at the cost of the poor. These become cultural things handed down from one generation to another – and they hate the Lord. Oh yes they do! They see the Lord as a threat to their man-controlled practices and they are driven on by the enemy playing on their superstitious fears. These generations and these cultures we suddenly find in the sights of the Lord.

This is the first reference to punishment in the Law. It says that God will hold people answerable for their lives and He will punish them. What is the purpose of the Lord’s punishment? Is it simply to be spiteful as some foolish atheists suggest? No, it is always with specific purpose which is either to remove the perpetrator who is acting like a cancer in society, or to bring them to their senses if He sees that they are open to that. It is a mystery why some people, like Pharaoh, simply harden their hearts and refuse the Lord, while others quickly heed, repent and change. The Lord’s primary desire is change, as He said through Ezekiel: Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezek 18:23).

But is fear and punishment the main thrust of this warning? No, look at what follows: showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” The sin of one generation may filter down to the following generations but the focus is on God’s love that wants to flow down through thousands of generations. This says that God’s intent is to love people and that is love expressed. It is obvious that that cannot be seen when there are generations refusing that love. But He doesn’t sit back and leave them to it; He disciplines or judges to bring change. He wants His world to be blessed, He wants His world to know and experience His love.

Later in Exodus we find the same thing: “the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Ex 34:6,7) There the emphasis was put first on the positive aspects and the warning only follows as if to say, “This is the wonderful God that He is, but don’t take Him for granted, don’t think you can get away with sin, for He will not sit back and let sin take over; He will deal with it.”

There is one aspect of our verses today that we have not covered: that God is a jealous God. Don’t see that as a negative thing in any way. One aspect of love is jealousy. Jealousy is a protective thing. It rises up in defensive protectiveness to guard and protect the object of our love, and to protect the relationship. It is right to be jealous for your marriage partner, to rise against anyone who would seek to lead away the object of our love and to destroy the covenant relationship. Parents who watch their teenage children being seduced away by drink or drugs know the defensive anger that rises up in a desire to protect their children from these things that they know can destroy them. Jealousy in this context is simply a right protective instinct and the Lord has it. He has it when He sees the enemy try to seduce His world with imitations or substitutes that can do nothing for people except act as crutches while he leads them further and further into deception and away from the Lord’s goodness.

These are serious verses and wonderful verses. They warn us that God’s love prompts Him to act against anyone or anything that would harm His world. His primary intent, when it comes to people, is to bring them back to their senses, to a place where they can know and experience His love, but if they will not heed, then He will, when He sees that this is the situation, remove them from the earth. In the meantime His wonderful love is there for all to receive.

Even More Caring

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took here into his home. John 19:26,27
We have seen Jesus caring for all those who unknowingly were involved in the greatest tragedy in history, which was also the most glorious event in history (think on that!), and then we saw him bring hope and assurance to a dying sinner.  Now he brings care and attention to his mother.
If God had been anything like us, it’s fairly certain that at this point of his human experience, Jesus would be raining down curses on mankind, curses on every being in sight, who ultimately brought him to this place.   If he were like Job (see Job 3) he would curse the day of his birth, and perhaps even his mother for bringing him into this world.  That is not an uncommon thought in those whose lives have been less than a blessing!  Yet there is nothing of that in Jesus.   As he hangs there in agony he sees, through the bloodshot eyes and screaming agony, his mother and the apostle John standing there, helpless, just looking on.  His heart reaches out and he feels the agony she feels as she looks on and sees the horrendous thing that are doing to her son.    He also senses in her a fear for the future – what now?  In three quick ways, possibly sparing his breath as the torture of the cross bears down on him more and more, he conveys a wealth of meaning.Dear woman,” he addresses his mother.   Not ‘mother’ which would have driven the sword through her heart even more (Lk 2:35).  “Dear woman” was how he had addressed her at the wedding in Cana (Jn 2:4) where he was separating himself off from her, indicating he was a man with a mission, not merely her son.  Similarly now, he gently disengages from her and her from him.  It’s time for her to let him go as her son, for soon she will see him as her Lord.  This is the Son of God redeeming the world, not just ‘her boy’.
Here is your son,” taken out of context might be taken to mean, “Here I am your son. Take in what you see,” but the context clearly indicates that he is referring to the apostle John, often referred to in this Gospel as ‘the disciple whom he loved’, who was standing next to her.   It’s as if, in disengaging from her, he says, “I’m no longer your family, John is.”  And so he turns his eyes to John and mouths, “Here is your mother.” John knows Jesus and understands.    He probably nods, and from then on he takes her into his family and cares for her.
In these words, in this incident, there is a divine transaction taking place.  So far, for the last thirty years or so, the Son of God has been relating to people as a human being. There have been a number of significant relationships.  Now, and we use that word a third time, it is as if Jesus is disengaging himself from human relationships.
We have referred previously to the sin offering in the Law of Moses, that prefigured Jesus.  The flesh and hide were taken “outside the camp” and burned (Ex 29:14) and the writer to the Hebrews identified Jesus with this (Heb 13:11,12).   On the Day of Atonement, that we have also considered (Lev 16), there were two goats. One was sacrificed as a sin offering (v.9), and the other was to be cast out into the desert as a scapegoat, a goat that would carry their sins away (v.10,20-22).   Could it be that the two goats represent two aspects of Jesus, one the humanity of Jesus that died on the Cross taking our punishment, and the other the Son of God side that could not die but would carry the sins away to hell?   As the end draws near, the Son of God prepares to disengage himself, in love, from those he has loved.   His human life is coming to an end and the divine is preparing to carry our sin away. Is this what was just starting to happen, for you and me?
Lord, we recognise that what was taking place on the Cross was a mystery. You have shared some of the truth with us and have left us to wonder and speculate about the rest. Even as we wonder and speculate, we realise that we are just grasping to catch a wonder that is beyond our wildest dreams in the incredible thing that you have done – paid our price and taken away our sins.   Thank you so much!