Behold Thy Mother!
John Chapter 19
26 “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”
This Sunday marks the annual day on which people from all walks of life will celebrate mothers. They will buy cards, flowers, and other gifts to say, “thank you,” to the one who nurtured, loved, cared for, and provided for them. Regardless of whether she is a biological mother, a surrogate mother, an adopted mother, or a spiritual mother, Mother will honored at this time. But just as with some of our other major holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, this honor should not just occur on one special day. It should be continual, especially for those of us who expect our days to be long upon the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee (Deuteronomy 5:16).
This week’s text takes us to the cross, where Jesus entrusted his mother to one of His disciples, John. In these two verses, Jesus provides instructions on how we should honor our mothers (and also on how mothers should honor their children). The key word in both verses is “behold.”
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, to “behold” means “to gaze at” or to “look upon.” In addition, the term is “often used as an interjection with exclamatory force.” Webster’s calls the term, “an imperative.” In other words, Jesus did not suggest that John behold Mary; He commanded that he behold her (and the command was likewise for Mary.) He did not want John to just say that Mary was now his mother; He wanted John to see that Mary was now his mother. And that process of seeing occurred on multiple levels: 1. physical/social, 2. mental/emotional, and 3. spiritual. Interestingly enough, these three levels correspond with our three-part nature: body, soul, and spirit.
First, Jesus wanted John to honor Mary on a physical level. This form of honor began with John actually looking at her, and it continued with his taking her into his home (v. 27). John had to perform every physical or social act that indicated to the world that Mary was his mother. He was commanded to let everyone see this relationship.
In addition, John had to make a mental and emotional adjustment. Webster’s indicates that when we behold something, we “perceive through sight or apprehension.” So John had to do more than just keep up appearances. He had to believe (understand) that Mary was his mother and honor her as such, even when no one else could see him.
Most importantly, John was commanded to honor Mary on a spiritual level. Some theologians have suggested that Jesus dishonored Mary when He called her “Woman” (v. 26) instead of Mother. I beg to differ. We all know that whatever occurs in the natural realm must first occur in the spiritual realm. Jesus called Mary “Woman” because the transfer had already taken place! He had already seen Mary as John’s mother. In this regard, Mary’s spiritual well-being now became John’s responsibility. John would now pray for her, share the word with her, and instruct her in God’s ways.
We have a mandate from heaven to honor—with all our being— the mothers whom God has entrusted to us. So this weekend, as we pay homage to them, I encourage you to ask yourselves the question, “Am I truly “beholding” my mother?”
Happy Mother’s Day!