Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
How can we have the mindset of Jesus towards the members of our family?
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Our text finds us with Jesus on the cross. He has been arrested, found guilty of blasphemy, crucified, and is now dying. Jesus looks at his mother, Mary, and says, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ At first glance, the reader might think Jesus is referring to himself. After all, he is in a pitiful state — nails in his hands and feet, bloodied from his beatings and scourging, and the end is coming soon. However, Jesus is not referring to himself, rather to his faithful follower, John (the writer of this Gospel). He is indicating to his mother that she is now to regard John as her son and look to him for the obligations of a son.
Thinking of others
After speaking to his mother, Jesus looks to John (‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ is how John referred to himself) and says: ‘Behold, your mother.’ Jesus is transferring his earthly responsibility for his mother’s well-being to his faithful disciple. Even as he is dying, Jesus is making sure that his human mother is taken care of. As the first-born son, he was responsible to make sure his mother (since his adopted father had died) is provided for and cared for in her old age. The One who came from above and who said he was returning to his Father is making sure is earthly mother is in good hands.
Isn’t it amazing that even in his death Jesus was thinking about those he was leaving behind? ‘I will not leave you as orphans’, he said to his disciples (John 14:18), and now he is saying to his mother that she will not be left alone either. Jesus leaves for his disciples an important example that is often overlooked by his modern day followers. Are we responsible enough to make sure our earthly families are provided for and cared for when we die? Do we take the time to make sure we have a Last Will and Testament with instructions on what to do when we are taken home to heaven? This is an important responsibility not just for people who are older in years, but young people as well since we never know when our time to depart planet earth will be.
Our Last Will and Testament should give instructions on who should care for one’s children (godparents, family members, etc.), how to distribute your assets and possessions, and not least, your testament (witness) of your conversion to Jesus Christ and your walk with him. This is such an important gift to give your children and grandchildren—even in your death for them to hear in your own words how you came to follow Jesus and how you lived for him! Sadly, too many followers of Jesus do not want to think about death, especially their own, and when the unthinkable happens, their families are left not only in grief, but in confusion and helplessness.
Jesus reminds us that even his death, he was thinking not of himself, but his precious mother in her grief and old age. Because of this transferring of responsibility, Mary would have a family with whom she could live, and would not have to live in poverty as a beggar.
Questions for Reflection
1. What does this passage tell us about Jesus?
2. Why do you think Jesus did not give this responsibility to his brothers (Matthew 12:46)?
3. Do you have a Last Will and Testament of your own?
Look with mercy, O God our Father,
on all whose increasing years bring them weakness, distress, or isolation
Provide for them homes of dignity and peace;
give them understanding helpers,
and the willingness to accept help,
and as their strength diminishes,
increase their faith and their assurance of your love,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
From the ACNA Book of Common Prayer (2019), page 663.