Filial Love Strong in Death
John 19:26, 27
When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold your son!…

Notice -

I. THE INFERIORITY OF HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS. Our Lord addresses his mother as "woman" - a term of tenderness and respect; still suggesting at once the inferiority of human relationships when compared with spiritual ones.

1. Human relationships belong to this world. They belong to the natural, physical, and visible order of things. They are the outcome of our existence, the arrangements of wise Providence, and important for the government of the human race, their social order, progress, and happiness, and capable of serving our highest interests.

2. Christ spoke of and treated them as inferior to spiritual relationships. Although he was the most obedient, affectionate, and exemplary of sons, yet he ever spoke of his spiritual and Divine relationships as being superior and more important - those arising from a Divine and spiritual birth, from the will of God, as superior to those arising from physical birth, or the will of the flesh. The former had ever his preference, and he was louder of his relations after the spirit than of those after the flesh. Once. when told that his mother and his brethren were outside, seeking him, he said, "He that doeth the will of my Father," etc.

3. At death human relationships are merged into those of a higher life. He saith, "woman," not "mother;" and, pointing to John, and not to himself, "Behold thy son!" As much as to say, in the old sense of the term, "Henceforth I cease to be thy Son, and thou ceasest to be my mother." She had to think of him, not as her Son, but as her Lord and Savior. By the regenerative influence of Christianity and the transition of death, the material is lost in the spiritual, the human in the Divine, and the temporal in the Eternal.

II. THE PERFORMANCE OF FILIAL DUTY. "When he saw his mother," etc. This duty involved provisions for the future support and comfort of his mother.

1. This duty is felt and admitted by Christ. This implies:

(1) That human relationships involve special duties. Brothers have special duties to brothers, parents to children, and children to parents. Christ felt that his widowed mother was dependent upon him for support and comfort, and he feels it his sacred duty to provide for her.

(2) These duties are incumbent, although the relationships whence they arise are about to cease. Jesus was about to cease to be Mary's Son, in the old sense; he was about to enter into a higher life. Still he felt it is duty to provide for her. The spiritual does not atone for the material. The obligations of every state of existence should be performed in that stage. Our obligations survive the relationships which gave rise to them.

(3) Christianity makes all under its influence more alive to the duties of human relationships. It is not Christ-like to leave the world as thieves and those who loved and were dependent upon us as absconders. The higher life of Christ inspired him to perform the duties of this, Christianity ennobles every relationship, and consecrates every duty of life. The Christian son will be the most affectionate and careful of his surviving mother.

2. This duty was performed by Christ under the most trying circumstances. This duty was done amidst the most excruciating sufferings, physical, mental, and spiritual. It was done in the very act of dying. When uttering these words of tenderness, he was in the grip of the most painful death. It was done when performing the most important work of his life. When providing for the spiritual wants of the world, he provided for the temporal wants of his mother. These facts prove:

(1) His utter self-obliviousness. "He made himself of no reputation." Not himself, but others. Not his own agonies, but the comfort of his surviving and stricken mother.

(2) His wonderful sovereignty over the most adverse circumstances of life. In the midst of sufferings and indignities he was perfectly calm and self-possessed. He had full control over his feelings, actions, sufferings, and even death. He kept death at bay till he performed the last duty of love pertaining to this life.

(3) The strength of his filial affection.

(4) His continued inherent interest in those he loved. In his beloved mother and disciple. And this interest, which blazed so brightly in the gloom of death, was net likely to be extinguished in the happiness and effulgence of the life beyond.

(5) The minuteness and. tenderness of his loving care. While we contemplate this, his last act of filial love, under the circumstances in which it was performed, we are ready to exclaim, "How human! how Divine! how comprehensive! how minute! how God-like! How like the Father of all!" While he governs and sustains the vast universe, he forgets not a single object - not even the smallest. He lights the sun and guides the stars, but forgets not the glow-worm - nor to smile on the rose and the lily. And so the Divine Son now on the cross, while he made an atonement for sin, satisfied justice, and honored the Law; still, at the very time, his mother is not forgotten.

3. This duty was performed in the best way.

(1) in the most efficient way. He entrusted her to the care of his best earthly friend, one with the means and the heart, the will and the way. He could do nothing else. He had no means to bequeath to her; but he had a loving heart at his command, which would ever be kind to her.

(2) In the most natural way. What could comfort the bereaved mother as much as another son, and so loved by and so like the lost one? John would remind her of Jesus, and their society would be congenial, and their conversation sweet as to the past and the future.

(3) In the most suitable time. Up to this time he was with her; there was no need of any one else. But now his life is past hope; his mother was in the suppressed agonies of grief and sorrow - the sword was through her heart. Then another son was introduced who would never cease to care for her - a very present help.

III. THE EXERCISE OF LOVING OBEDIENCE. This is illustrated in the mother and in the disciple.

1. The new relationship is most naturally felt and realized. It jars not on the feelings of either; but a flush of a new kinship passes over their countenance.

2. The sacred charge was most cheerfully accepted. There was no need of along lecture; only the brief introduction, "Behold," etc.! By his Spirit and providence he had prepared both for the new relationship.

3. It was practically accepted. He took her to his own home. Loving obedience is ever practical and full. To his own home, which was the home of love.

4. It was immediately practical. There was no delay. "From that hour." The obedience of love is hearty and prompt. Probably that very minute he took her away.

(1) For her own sake. She could scarcely stand the heart-rending scene any longer. Her motherly instincts would cling to the cross till the last; but the tender instincts of her newly adopted son would considerately lead her away. It was enough.

(2) For Christ's sake. His human eyes should see the obedience of love. The sacred charge would be taken at once, and his will immediately executed. This should not press a moment on him. A weeping mother should not hold him back from death. Would not even Christ die more happily after seeing his mother cared for?


1. There are some whom Jesus loves more than others. John was such. He specially loved him on account of his specially loving qualities and his likeness to him.

2. Those whom Jesus specially loves he specially honors - honors with his confidence, friendship, mind, and treasures.

3. The greatest honor which Christ can confer upon us is to employ us in his special service.

4. Jesus has many poor relations still in need of care. Those who befriend the orphan and the widow are doing Jesus special service. We hear still from the cross the words, "Son, behold thy mother!" etc. - B.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

WEB: Therefore when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son!"

The Sympathy of Christ
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