In 2004, I watched “The Passion of the Christ*” in the movie theater with some ladies from my church and let me set the stage. I had been widowed for three years and my focus the entire time was my children and their mental and physical well-being. I was hypersensitive emotionally and as a visual person allowed the entertainment to paint the picture. When the movie started, I sat in a movie theater in Grapevine, Texas and for the next two and half hours, I was transported to Jerusalem over two thousand years ago. I could feel the dry, dusty dirt on my body, the heat radiating off the sun and the immense hatred of the crowd who wanted Jesus crucified. I could hear the men screaming and women wailing and watched the merciless beating of Jesus. What caught my eye was observing Mary, mother of Jesus, in the back of the crowd, gazing at her precious son and connecting with her as a mother.
I am not sure if it was the timing of this movie in my life or the intensity of the film, but I was extremely moved as a woman and a mother at Mary’s part in the final hours of Jesus on earth. I have not lost a child nor am I comparing my children to Jesus, but I can relate to a woman who gave birth to a child, raised him, provided protection, and prayed for him. I found myself in the theater sobbing and grieving right along with Mary as a Christian and as a mother.
I realize in the movie there were added components to make it more dramatic, but I was curious what if anything was mentioned in the bible about Mary in Jerusalem. In reading through the four gospels, I found it interesting only one mentions Mary, the mother of Jesus, specifically which is in the book of John. In John 19:25-27 it reads, “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciples whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”** Jesus identifies his mother and the disciple mentioned in this passage as John who wrote the gospel.*** There is not a great amount of detail around Mary but it does put her at the cross where Jesus was crucified. I also know from history women of this time were not considered as important as men, so it is a safe assumption they would not be near the crosses but in the background. I find it fascinating Mary and a few other women, made it to the base of the cross and with His dying breaths, Jesus acknowledged and spoke to her and John. Mary demonstrated even when her actions went against the norms of the day, what a mother will risk in order to be there for her child.
As a mother, I would want to try and deflect any type of pain, sorrow, embarrassment, or failure from my children. I wish my children at a young age did not have to experience the death of their father. I wanted to “fix” them with therapy, love, church, and praises. I could not take this pain from them and they each had to go through the grief, grow into it, and accept it as a part of who they are. Mary had to stand at a distance and watch her son ridiculed, mocked, beaten, tortured, and eventually hung on a cross to die. We both could do nothing but be a witness to the pain and suffering of our children. We are the mortal women who carry the burden of birthing, nurturing, protecting, loving and fearing for our children.
Easter is about the good news of Jesus and how he died and rose again for each of us. I celebrate this joyous occasion and understand because of His sacrifice, I have a new everlasting life. I additionally see Mary in a different light, as a mother, during this Easter season and have come to appreciate her role in the event which exhibited the sacrifice and true love for all of mankind.
*The Passion Of The Christ-A Mel Gibson Film-2004-Icon Productions
** The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
***Bible Hub 2016 and Berean.Bible-Benson Commentary John:25-27