25.Now there stood by the cross of Jesus. The Evangelist here mentions incidentally, that while Christ obeyed God the Father, he did not fail to perform the duty which he owed, as a son, towards his mother. True, he forgot himself, and he forgot every thing, so far as was necessary for the discharge of obedience to his Father, but, after having performed that duty, he did not neglect what he owed to his mother. Hence we learn in what manner we ought to discharge our duty towards God and towards men. It often happens that, when God calls us to the performance of any thing, our parents, or wife, or children, draw us in a contrary direction, so that we cannot give equal satisfaction to all. If we place men in the same rank with God, we judge amiss. We must, therefore, give the preference to the command, the worship, and the service of God; after which, as far as we are able, we must give to men what is their due.
And yet the commands of the first and second table of the Law never jar with each other, though at first sight they appear to do so; but we must begin with the worship of God, and afterwards assign to men an inferior place. Such is the import of the following statements:
He who loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me,
If any one hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, he cannot be my disciple,
We ought, therefore, to devote ourselves to the interests of men, so as not in any degree to interfere with the worship and obedience which we owe to God. When we have obeyed God, it will then be the proper time to think about parents, and wife, and children; as Christ attends to his mother, but it is after that he is on the cross, to which he has been called by his Father’ decree.
Yet, if we attend to the time and place when these things happened, Christ’ affection for his mother was worthy of admiration. I say nothing about the severe tortures of his body; I say nothing about the reproaches which he suffered; but, though horrible blasphemies against God filled his mind with inconceivable grief, and though he sustained a dreadful contest with eternal death and with the devil, still, none of these things prevent him from being anxious about his mother. We may also learn from this passage, what is the honor which God, by the Law, commands us to render to parents, (Exo_20:12.) Christ appoints the disciple to be his substitute, and charges him to support and take care of his mother; and hence it follows, that the honor which is due to parents consists, not in cold ceremony, (171) but in the discharge of all necessary duties.
On the other hand, we ought to consider the faith of those holy women (172) It is true that, in following Christ to the cross, they displayed more than ordinary affection; but, if they had not been supported by faith they could never have been present at this exhibition. As to John himself, we infer that, though his faith was choked for a short time, it was not wholly extinguished. How shameful will it be, if the dread of the cross deters us from following Christ, when the glory of his resurrection is placed before our eyes, whereas the women beheld in it nothing but disgrace and cursing!
Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. He calls her either the wife or the daughter of Cleophas; but I prefer the latter interpretation. (173) He says, that she was the sister of the mother of Jesus, and, in saying so, he adopts the phraseology of the Hebrew language, which includes cousins, and other relatives, (174) under the term brothers. We see that it was not in vain that Mary Magdalene was delivered from seven devils, (Mar_16:9; Luk_8:2;) since she showed hersclf, to the last, to be so faithful a disciple to Christ.
(171) “En froide ceremonie.”
(172) “De ces sainctes femmes.”
(173) ”Il y en a aucuns qui pensent que c’ la femme de Cleopas: mon opinion est que c’ plustost sa rifle.” — “ are some who think that she was the wife of Cleophas: my opinion is, that she was rather his daughter.”