“Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.” (John 19:25 NLT)
Who was there when Jesus was crucified?
It seems like each of the Gospel writers has a different account. Who were the witnesses?
In John’s Gospel, he lists four women and in the verse which follows he lists a male disciple, probably John himself. Who was Mary, the wife of Clopas? A significant person if she was allowed to stay for these emotional moments for his family.
It is hard to pretend that women do not have an important role to play in the early days of the church.
And as the Church of England moves towards the inevitable decision to approve women Bishops, it is wonderful to see that (not before time) women will be given equal rights to men.
I was puzzled this week to overhear someone call the church old fashioned. And then I read this and the thought struck me: how can we say it is not when we still treat women differently?
“Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha ).” (John 19:17 NLT)
It’s interesting that the Gospel of John contains many small details of the lives of the people in the story of Jesus’ life, but this dramatic moment is severely shortened to only one line.
What I found interesting was the woman who spoke to Peter as they were stood by the fire during Jesus’ trial. She was not just some random person, as I had always assumed. She was a relative of the priest whose ear had been cut off by Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane.
So much detail, and yet this line is so short and to the point.
“Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest.” (Proverbs 16:8 NLT)
Isn’t it? Given the recent controversy surrounding our MPs, this seems particularly relevant.
“Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit”. (Psalms 119:96 NLT)
The Lords Commands are more than perfect.
Psalm 119 is one of the iconic Psalms. Each stanza has eight verses and each verse includes a reference to God’s Law.
It’s worth reading up on and studying on it’s own merit.
“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.” (John 16:20 NLT)
What struck me here was the phrase, “the world will rejoice”. The world, it seems, does rejoice that Christians are suffering.
Not the whole world, but a vocal part of it.
But they are missing the point, as always. The joy is still to come. And on that day, we will be willing to share the joy for anyone who asks for it.
Are we being naive for being ready and able to give joy to anyone who asks? Perhaps. If being naive means letting go of cynicism and cold heartedness.
This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:17 NLT)
“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” (John 14:17 NLT)
By a coincidence, this is the very passage that I had been given to read this morning in church.
It’s not an easy read and I know I made a mess of one of the verses as I was reading. But Jesus is telling his disciples what is about to happen. He knows he is going to die. But that’s not the end of the story.
And I chose this verse because it sums up what this passage is all about. Jesus’ death wasn’t the end. It was the beginning.
But the world cannot accept that. Every day there are countless posts on Twitter from people who just don’t “get it”. They are not able, or unwilling, to see that the Holy Spirit is alive and working in every Christian.
And it remains the duty of every Christian to try to help the world recognise the Spirit. How do we do this?
By living our lives as Jesus has commanded. By being truthful and honest in everything we say and do.
And if the world still does not recognise the Spirit then what?
We keep trying. We love our neighbours, whoever they are…