We remember Jesus’ death on the cross today. We call it Good Friday, but I don’t think it was a good day for him or his friends and family. He died, remember.
Think about that for a minute. Jesus died. In order for him to die, he had to be a real, physical human being, with a real, physical body. In order for him to be a real, physical human being, he had to be born. In order for him to be born, what did he have to have? A mother.
We’ve been reading through John’s Gospel this year. I find it fascinating that the first thing Jesus says while hanging on the cross, in John’s account, is directed at his mother. Do you remember the last time Jesus’ mother showed up in John’s Gospel? She and Jesus were at a wedding party in Cana in John 2:1-11. The wedding host had run out of wine and Jesus’ mother urged him to do something about it.
This woman (never named in John’s Gospel, by the way, but only called “woman” and “mother”) was the nudge that Jesus needed to begin his ministry. Turning the water into wine was the first of his signs. There is no temptation story in John. There is no baptism of Jesus in John. There is no being led by the Holy Spirit through the wilderness and into ministry in John.
There is only Jesus’ mother.
She brought him physically into this world. Her birth canal was the channel through which the Word of God became flesh. She nudged him into ministry. Now, she returns to the story as the beautiful body of her son dies on a cross.
This period of time when the Word of God became human flesh is called the incarnation. It is the Good News that God is with us and God is for us; and it all happened because of a woman. A mother. A Family.
Jesus looks at her from the cross . “Woman,” he says, “here is your son.” He was talking about the beloved disciple standing right next to her, watching Jesus die. Jesus then looks at this man, tears probably streaming down the disciple’s face, and says, “Here is your mother.”
Why did John include this detail? I think it is because the incarnation of God happens within the context of a family. We are all born through a woman’s body. We all have people who raise us, called parents (biological, adopted, foster, extended relative). We all have people with whom we grow up—siblings, cousins, neighbor kids, classmates. We all live in an interconnected beautiful mess called the family of God.
We need each other.
As you remember Jesus’ death today, remember it as a family. Remember that, within the relationships of your family, whatever shape your family may have, God is made flesh among you.
Have a blessed Good Family Faith Friday.
(click here to see the full visual meditation on this passage)