Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.…
I purpose to consider the text with reference to —
I. THE INDIVIDUALS spoken of in it. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all take particular notice of the women who ministered unto Jesus, and followed Him to Calvary, but St. John is the only one who mentions three of them by name. He does so, perhaps, as writing subsequently to the others, and as having himself stood with the Marys by the cross and observed them there. They were, moreover, persons peculiarly characterized, and therefore also worthy to be specifically mentioned. Mary, the mother of Jesus, would naturally feel a deep and solemn interest in all that befell her Divine Son. It is not determined in the original whether the second Mary was the wife, the mother, or the daughter of Cleophas: but it is generally believed she was his wife, and that he was also called Alpheus, and therefore the mother of James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas (Matthew 12:46; Mark 6:3). Be this, however, as it may, she was ardently and devoutly attached to her Lord. The other Mary, Magdalene, was a woman of Magdala, a large and populous town, near the lake Tiberias, in Galilee, and out of her Jesus cast seven devils. "There," might Mary the mother of Jesus say, "dies my Son." "There," might the wife of Cleophas say, "dies my Friend." "There," might the Magdalene say, "dies my Saviour."
II. OURSELVES. And first observe, that the cross, which the Marys beheld with their bodily eyes, we must behold by faith. Others' personal witness does not supersede the necessity of our belief.
1. Would we have our sins forgiven? Let us stand by the cross of Jesus. Though by "wicked hands He was crucified and slain," yet in His death was the meritorious means of our forgiveness.
2. Would we have our iniquities subdued? Let us stand by the cross of Jesus. There is with Him "a power whereby He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." Our will, our affections, our memory, and imagination, He can bring into sweet and entire subserviency to the law of the Spirit of Life.
3. Would we be softened? Let us stand by the cross of Jesus. How were the pious sensibilities of the Marys moved as they stood and mourned for Him! When we can most feelingly enter into the condescending kindness, and the dying love of Christ, then shall we ourselves be most truly kind and conciliating.
4. Would we preserve serenity and peacefulness of spirit? Let us stand by the cross of Jesus. Nothing will so effectually quell mental strife as meditation on the death of Christ. Wild may be the tumult of conflicting opinions, and contrariety may pervade all human schemes and devisings; but, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace," &c.
5. Would we be crucified unto the world? Let us stand by the cross of Jesus. What was the world, either in its prosperous or adverse circumstances, to the Marys. When any feel it to be hard to give up some carnal pleasure or worldly advantage, let them inquire whether they recollect their Saviour's cross?
6. And as Jesus our Lord "endured the cross, despising the shame," would we take up our daily cross with cheerfulness? Let us stand by the cross of Jesus. Let us quell every complaining of our heart with the question, "Did not Jesus suffer?" "Therefore let us both labour and suffer reproach;" and "esteem," like Moses, "the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt," or all the wealth of worlds.
7. Would we truly love the Lord and Saviour of our souls? Let us stand by His cross. Boundless is the love we owe Him.
8. Would we descend ourselves into the grave resignedly? Let us stand by the cross of Jesus. If we go down into Hades from Calvary, we need entertain no distressing fear: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."
(W. Mudge, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.