When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold your son!
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Woman - This appellation certainly implied no disrespect. See the notes at John 2:4.
Behold thy son! - This refers to John, not to Jesus himself. Behold, my beloved disciple shall be to you a son, and provide for you, and discharge toward you the duties of an affectionate child. Mary was poor. It would even seem that now she had no home. Jesus, in his dying moments, filled with tender regard for his mother, secured for her an adopted son, obtained for her a home, and consoled her grief by the prospect of attention from him who was the most beloved of all the apostles. What an example of filial attention! What a model to all children! And how lovely appears the dying Saviour, thus remembering his afflicted mother, and making her welfare one of his last cares on the cross, and even when making atonement for the sins of the world!
Woman, behold thy son! - This is a remarkable expression, and has been much misunderstood. It conveys no idea of disrespect, nor of unconcern, as has been commonly supposed. In the way of compellation, man! and woman! were titles of as much respect among the Hebrews as sir! and madam! are among us. But why does not Jesus call her mother? Probably because he wished to spare her feelings; he would not mention a name, the very sound of which must have wrung her heart with additional sorrow. On this account he says, Behold thy son! this was the language of pure natural affection: "Consider this crucified man no longer at present as any relative of thine; but take that disciple whom my power shall preserve from evil for thy son; and, while he considers thee as his mother, account him for thy child." It is probable that it was because the keeping of the blessed virgin was entrusted to him that he was the only disciple of our Lord who died a natural death, God having preserved him for the sake of the person whom he gave him in charge. Many children are not only preserved alive, but abundantly prospered in temporal things, for the sake of the desolate parents whom God hast cast upon their care. It is very likely that Joseph was dead previously to this; and that this was the reason why the desolate virgin is committed to the care of the beloved disciple.
and the disciple standing by; either by his cross, his mother, or both:
whom he loved: meaning John, the writer of this Gospel, who for modesty's sake often describes himself in this manner; he being distinguished by Christ from the rest, by some peculiar marks of affection as man; though as God, and as the Redeemer, he loved his disciples alike, as he does all his true and faithful followers:
he saith unto his mother, woman, behold thy son; meaning not himself, but the disciple, who was her son, not by nature, nor adoption; but who would show himself as a son, by his filial affection for, care of, honour and respect unto her. Christ calls her not mother, but woman; not out of disrespect to her, or as ashamed of her; but partly that he might not raise, or add strength to her passions, by a tenderness of speaking; and partly to conceal her from the mob, and lest she should be exposed to their rude insults; as also to let her know that all natural relation was now ceasing between them; though this is a title he sometimes used to give her before.When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
from that hour … took her to his own home—or, home with him; for his father Zebedee and his mother Salome were both alive, and the latter here present (Mr 15:40). See on Mt 13:55. Now occurred the supernatural darkness, recorded by all the other Evangelists, but not here. "Now from the sixth hour (twelve o'clock, noon) there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour" (Mt 27:45). No ordinary eclipse of the sun could have occurred at this time, it being then full moon, and this obscuration lasted about twelve times the length of any ordinary eclipse. (Compare Ex 10:21, 23). Beyond doubt, the divine intention of the portent was to invest this darkest of all tragedies with a gloom expressive of its real character. "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried, Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani … My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Mt 27:46). As the darkness commenced at the sixth hour, the second of the Jewish hours of prayer, so it continued till the ninth hour, the hour of the evening sacrifice, increasing probably in depth, and reaching its deepest gloom at the moment of this mysterious cry, when the flame of the one great "Evening Sacrifice" was burning fiercest. The words were made to His hand. They are the opening words of a Psalm (Ps 22:1) full of the last "sufferings of Christ and the following glories" (1Pe 1:11). "Father," was the cry in the first prayer which He uttered on the cross, for matters had not then come to the worst. "Father" was the cry of His last prayer, for matters had then passed their worst. But at this crisis of His sufferings, "Father" does not issue from His lips, for the light of a Father's countenance was then mysteriously eclipsed. He falls back, however, on a title expressive of His official relation, which, though lower and more distant in itself, yet when grasped in pure and naked faith was mighty in its claims, and rich in psalmodic associations. And what deep earnestness is conveyed by the redoubling of this title! But as for the cry itself, it will never be fully comprehended. An absolute desertion is not indeed to be thought of; but a total eclipse of the felt sense of God's presence it certainly expresses. It expre'sses surprise, as under the experience of something not only never before known, but inexplicable on the footing which had till then subsisted between Him and God. It is a question which the lost cannot utter. They are forsaken, but they know why. Jesus is forsaken, but does not know and demands to know why. It is thus the cry of conscious innocence, but of innocence unavailing to draw down, at that moment, the least token of approval from the unseen Judge—innocence whose only recognition at that moment lay in the thick surrounding gloom which but reflected the horror of great darkness that invested His own spirit. There was indeed a cause for it, and He knew it too—the "why" must not be pressed so far as to exclude this. He must taste this bitterest of the wages of sin "who did no sin" (1Pe 2:22). But that is not the point now. In Him there was no cause at all (Joh 14:30) and He takes refuge in the glorious fact. When no ray from above shines in upon Him, He strikes a light out of His own breast. If God will not own Him, He shall own Himself. On the rock of His unsullied allegiance to Heaven He will stand, till the light of Heaven returns to His spirit. And it is near to come. While He is yet speaking, the fierceness of the flame is beginning to abate. One incident and insult more, and the experience of one other predicted element of suffering, and the victory is His. The incident, and the insult springing out of it, is the misunderstanding of the cry, for we can hardly suppose that it was anything else. "Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias" (Mt 27:47).Woman. See PNT Joh 2:4.Verse 26. - Jesus then, seeing the (his) mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, saith to the (his) mother, Woman, behold thy son! The term "Woman" was on his lips an honorific title rather than an expression of coldness. No atom of disrespect or failure of affection is evinced, nor can we conceive it possible that our Lord was here separating himself in his mediatorial character from all relationship with the mother who bore him! This view, adopted by Hengstenberg in part, by Steinmeyer, Luthardt, Alford, and originally by Professor Hoffmann of Erlangen, seems utterly inconsistent with the spirit of Christ. True, he had warned her not to intrude upon his modes of activity (John 2:4), and had said that his disciples were his brothers, sisters, mother; but the greatness of his heart is human to the last. No Monophy-site explanation of the status majestaticus, no Nestorian severance of the Divine and human Christ, is needed. Christ yearned over the mother whose heart was being pierced by his agony, and with filial anxiety entrusted her, not to those brothers of his - whatever was the degree of their relationship to him - who, nevertheless, did not believe on him, but to the disciple whom he loved.
See on John 2:4.
Canon Westcott remarks upon the four exclamations in this chapter - Behold the man! Behold your King! Behold thy son! Behold thy mother! as a remarkable picture of what Christ is, and what He reveals men to be.
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