Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at the cross.
It’s an unimaginable picture. Why would any mother, anywhere, intentionally attend the execution of her adult child? Why would her family even allow her attendance?
Fact is, Mary didn’t come to Jerusalem for the crucifixion.
She came for Passover.
Mary and Joseph had kept a long-standing practice of attending the Passover celebration in Jerusalem. “Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover,” is the way Luke 2:41 records it.
At some point, Joseph died. But Mary kept going to Jerusalem for Passover.
It was a long, brutal trip. Almost certainly, Mary walked the entire 75 miles, taking the better part of a week to complete the trip. The last leg of the journey included the 18-mile climb from Jericho to Jerusalem, one of the most difficult hikes you’d ever want to tackle.
The year Jesus died, Mary didn’t make the long journey so she could witness history’s most important moment.
The year her son was stripped naked, scourged until he could barely stand, beaten until he was nearly unrecognizable, she didn’t go to Jerusalem so she could be there when his lifeless body was finally removed from the stakes of torture.
Mary went to Jerusalem because she loved God.
From childhood, Mary had loved God. From childhood, Mary had been completely devoted to God. She had a pure heart and clean hands. She was so innocent in her devotion to God, the Almighty had chosen her to be the mother of the Christ.
Her nature had not changed. Her devotion had not stopped.
And so she set out again to walk to Jerusalem, ready to celebrate the Passover meal with other family members and friends who’d spent their lifetimes doing the same.
This forces a terribly uncomfortable question.
Is this how God treats those who love Him with all their hearts, souls and minds? Is this how God rewards those who’ve been most faithful? Is this what you might have to expect if you commit your own life to a Mary-level of faith in God?
I can’t imagine what it was like to crumple at the base of the cross and to feel the splatter of blood coming from your own child. I cannot allow my mind to comprehend what she saw.
He was naked. In agony. The spikes in his feet were close enough to touch. Did she reach for them … and try to pull them out?
He saw her, spoke to her, loved her. Blood covered him. His scalp was torn and his flesh hung in ribbons. He gasped for air and screamed in pain.
Why, we demand to know, would God allow any mother to watch this?
Certainly there are still mothers who know the agony of a child’s suffering. You’ll find them in every children’s hospital. You’ll find them in the home of a special needs child. You’ll find them as they care for a wounded soldier-child, or one broken by a car accident.
There are lots of hurting mothers – and fathers – in the world who still manage to love God.
This despite the fact that God allows such suffering.
Maybe we need to look at Mary’s story from God’s point of view. Perhaps God could have prevented Mary from going to Jerusalem that particular year. Surely He could have. But perhaps God wanted Mary to be in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified.
But from God’s point of view, she wasn’t there for the crucifixion.
From God’s point of view, He’d brought Mary to Jerusalem for the resurrection.
If Mary hadn’t come to Jerusalem and endured the worst pain of her life, perhaps she would not have been in Jerusalem on Sunday … when she would experience the greatest joy of her life.
But first, the cross. Pain, unfortunately, is a reality of life. It is a horrible, undeniable, unavoidable part of life.
Are you one who loves God, even in the midst of your pain? Let Mary remind us of a wonderful truth today. As long as you know Jesus, your story isn’t over.
Endure the cross, if that’s your lot today.
Just don’t forget one very important fact.