Why did Jesus say
WOMAN, BEHOLD THY SON?
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Question: Why did Jesus say, "Woman, behold your son!" to his mother Mary while he was on the cross?
Answer: In the book of John we read:
"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to his mother, 'Woman, behold your son!' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home." (John 19:25-27, NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted.)
The Amplified Bible quotes verse 26 of John 19 as follows:
"So Jesus, seeing His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing near, said to His mother, [Dear] woman, see, [here is] your son! "
According to A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament by G. Abbott-Smith, using the word woman to refer to a female was "a term of respect and endearment." Bullinger's Companion Bible notation for verse 26 refers the reader to John 2:4 where Jesus also uses the term "woman." In the notes pertaining to this verse, "woman" is "a respectful form of address."
Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible for this verse makes an interesting comment as to WHY Jesus might have used the term "woman":
"But why does not Jesus call her (Mary) mother? Probably because he wished to spare her feelings; he would not mention a name, the very sound of which must have wrung her heart with additional sorrow."
John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible adds another interesting facet as to why this designation might have been used:
"Christ calls her not mother, but woman; not out of disrespect to her, or as ashamed of her; but partly that he might not raise, or add strength to her passions, by a tenderness of speaking; and partly to conceal her from the mob, and lest she should be exposed to their rude insults"
Luke 2:7 tells us that Jesus was Mary's firstborn Son (See also Matthew 1:25). Matthew 12:46-49, Matthew 13:55-56, Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 8:19-21 all refer to Jesus' family but none mention Joseph, His legal father, who had probably died years earlier.
Since Jesus was the oldest son, it was His responsibility to insure the care of His mother. This was Jewish custom and part of honoring one's parents in accordance with the commandment.
Jesus knew, as he hung on the cross, that His death was near. He was in severe pain and knew He was about to make the ultimate sacrifice according to His heavenly Father's plan. In spite of the agony, Jesus was concerned about his mother and her care after he was gone. He made provision for His mother by charging one of his disciples, whom He deeply loved, to take care of her as if she was his mother. As is written in John 19:27, Jesus' oral statement before witnesses made the obligation to the beloved disciple (John) binding.
Verses 28 to 30 of John 19 record that Jesus was thirsty:
"After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!" Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.
"So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit." (John 19:28-30)
The meaning and significance of John 19:25-27 is that we are to love our parents and to provide for them as much as we are physically able. By so doing, we also show our love for Jesus and for God our Father.
Written by: Tommy West