Earlier this year on Mother’s Day, I shared a story that was really sacred to me. It was about Jesus and his mother Mary, particularly at a point when it became obvious that he would no longer be around.
Jesus had four brothers, but at his death, right there nailed to the cross, bleeding profusely, his life gradually seeping out, he did the most unusual thing. He entrusted the care of his Mum, not to his “almost-twin” younger brother, but to the one man He trusted – His best friend, a gentleman known as J.Zebedee. OK, we know him as John the son of Zebedee. “Dear woman, here is your (new) son.” he said to his mum.
“When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:26-27
What? What just happened? How did we even get to this point? What happened to James? Why would He give out His Mum to a complete stranger to live with? Totally unbelievable.
I know we love to think of Mary as a superhuman being, a Saint even. YesYes, that’s right. But while they were here, Mary was just a mother, a woman with unusual responsibilities, a Mother of Five Boys, and maybe plus two girls to balance the mix. And a Mum whose first two sons didn’t seem to get along. NO THEY DID NOT.
Evidence suggests that Joseph the husband of Mary, the same Joseph in the Nativity story, he has already passed on.
As the first born, it became the responsibility of Jesus to see that his mum was well catered for. Which he did quite well as he took over his (earthly) father’s business. He took over the carpentry business and he did a good job. People no longer referred to him as the Carpenter’s son, but they called him the Carpenter, because he was their local Carpenter and of course they enjoyed his services.
But Jesus was not your regular Carpenter, He was also the “Son ofGod”. He came with a mission, which had nothing to do with wood nail or hammer. He started His Public Ministry of preaching the Gospel. He would leave his home at Nazareth and would go anywhere the Spirit led.
Leaving a successful family business at the age of 30 was not particularly a good business decision. It had economic implications especiallys immediate family. It seemed like a selfish decision. What would happen to them? How would they survive now? But Jesus was leaving Nazareth, for good, and nobody could stop him.
Hebecame unpopular to his brother, to his native town of Nazareth. He was probably the son who left his family to suffer while He wandered. He came back to Nazareth a few times, but He was not really accepted. He couldn’t perform much miracles among them.
The big drama happened the day He was preaching and His Mum and brothers came to take him away, because they were sure he’d gone crazy. That day he too refused to see them. In fact He denied them as He asked the famous question: “who are my mother and my brothers? Anybody who obeys the word of God is my mother and brother and sister.”
His brothers clearly did not believe in him throughout his earthly ministry. They made fun of him even. Jesus too did not force himself to have a relationship with them. His mother tried to be supportive of his ministry, but one can assume it was not an easy decision. Especially as she was torn between them, and she was not sure of who to side with. They were all her children.
Anyways, long story short, on one fateful evening, Jesus was arrested. On that same night, he wad tried and sentenced. And eventually brutally executed in a slow painful way.
He was alone!
Guess who showed up?
Judas Iscariot who betrayed him obviously couldn’t show his face, but he probably followed from a distance.
OK Peter came. John made sure the door was opened for him. But instead of being the good guy, Peter was busy denying Jesus up and down. “I don’t know that Jesus”, ” I don’t know whatyou’re talking about. I’m definitely not His disciple.” At a point, he started swearing to proof he’s innocent. Peter stop lying!
His brother James was visibly and noticeably absent. He was not there to say goodbye to his big bro, and he was not there to support their Mum who was obviously heartbroken. It was her son that was being mercilessly executed…
Jesus looked down from the cross where He hung. He looked at His Mother one final time. There was no insurance, no life cover, no temple support, no welfare package, no social grants, no pension and definitely no job for his mother. Without support, she would suffer. Right there, standing next to his mother at the point of her greatest sorrow was his best friend forever. The guy the Bible records always “laid on Jesus’ chest”. I won’t even try to explain what that means in our contemporary world. But they seemed quote close.
John the son of Zebedee. He was there. And Jesus found a perfect replacement. Besides, John was a man of means. Hr appeared to have enough resources to take care of a middle aged/elderly lady. Jesus made a brief ” christening”: John meet your new Mum. Mum, here’s your new son.
Neither of them protested. And from that spot, John took Mothet Mary straight to his own house, to love and care for her. Mary was well cared for, and everybody was happy.
That’s not how the story ends… It goes on for longer, but I’ll stop it here. We don’t know why Jesus did not consider James fit to take care of their Mum, we can only guess…
This story will be incomplete if o don’t mention this very important fact:
Jesus did not give up on His younger brother James. After He resurrected, guy who He visited? Yes, He went to James with His resurrected body. Blood is always thicker than water. James not only repented and believed in Him, James became the Presiding Bishop at the Church in Jerusalem. He became a Missionary and together with his wife (yeah he got married), they visited the churches that were planed. He further went on to write The Epistle named after him – the Book of James in the Bible.
Yes, it was written by James the brother of Jesus. It’s such a lovely book to read!
Happy Mothering Sunday.