Read: John 19:17-30
Growing up, my dad would bombard me with lengthy lectures on the value of responsibility. At the time I didn’t really know what it was, or why he thought it was so important. It seemed to be associated with school, chores, and jobs, all things which just took up time I would otherwise be doing something fun. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was living under a misunderstanding of what responsibility was. It wasn’t until my first job that I realized responsibility wasn’t a waste of time, it was a measure of character. Being given a responsibility no longer meant loss of valuable free time, it meant someone valued my character and abilities enough to trust me with a certain difficult task. I found I enjoyed tasks given to me at work more, not because they were in any way enjoyable tasks, but because I felt worth in being entrusted with the task.
Today’s passage is the crucifixion in John 19. Our hearts buckle under the weight of the disciple’s grief, seeing Jesus hanging there on the cross, suffering an excruciating death. But, amid all this pain, Jesus did something extraordinary which John doesn’t skip over. Jesus used whatever physical strength was left in His dying body to provide for His mother. Mary was there, at the foot of the cross, watching her son be tortured and killed.
But, using some of His last breaths, Jesus gave John the responsibility to take care of Mary as his own mother, and gave Mary the responsibility to console John, Jesus’ beloved disciple. Even while on the cross, Jesus was providing for His people with relief and responsibility.
The depth and significance that go into John’s crucifixion scene are too vast for me to unpack here—but I think it would be easy to misunderstand the sacrifice of Jesus if we don’t grasp the significance of the relief and responsibility that comes with it. When Jesus died, He did not eradicate sin and suffering. There are still widows and orphans; pain and hurt are still normal human experiences in the world—but now there is a body of believers, little blazing torches in the dark, filled with Holy-Spirit energy, able to make a difference for the Kingdom of God!
It’s an enormous responsibility to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as His followers, but He gave the job to us. Scripture tells us we, the Church, are the body of Christ in the world (Col. 1:18). Christ today is ministering to the hurting world through the Church, of which we all make up a part. Jesus didn’t just fix the problem for us, He gave us a chance to stand up and, in His grace, heal the world as His body—the bridge between the broken world and the Kingdom of God.
Are you willing to be a John? Or maybe, are you willing to let someone else be a John toward you? Jesus left His believers in the world to grow His family. Look at your local church—as messy and broken as it may be—this is the body of Christ, and you are an active agent for the Kingdom of God in it. There was a saying in the early church, “God is our Father, the Church is our Mother.” “Behold, your mother” (v. 27), go and serve Her the way Jesus taught John to serve the poor and the outcast, and you will find in serving Her, you have become more like the Jesus who died for you.