Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
MARY AT THE CROSS. That is the way many, especially esthetic natures, begin their discourse or their sermon when they set out to explain the passage we have placed at the head of this chapter. Well, in doing so they can appeal to old authorities. The classic
Stabat mater dolorosa
Iuxta crucem lacrimosa
has since of old in the church placed the figure of the oppressed mother at the cross, whose soul was pierced by the sword, in the center of the meditation. And in later days there has been no lack of poets and homiletes who felt the spirit of this “Stabat Mater” burn in their souls and who have written or spoken in the same spirit.
Indeed the picture in which the Bible sets off Christ in the company of His mother and His relatives is a moving one. At this point the drama is more stirring than at any other.
However, in our case, that is not our purpose, it is not the mater lacrimosa, but the filius lacrimosus, not Mary’s maternal heart, but the passion of her Son, of God’s Son, her Lord, which is being proclaimed to us here, and which must save us. The moment we put Mary and her grief at the center of our thinking, we have done injustice to the Son, and — fortunately! — to Mary also. It is not the fact that the mater dolorosa stood there, but the fact that Christ dolorosus hung there that is of significance in this preaching. A cause of our salvation is not Mary’s silence and Mary’s departure, but Christ’s speaking, and sending, and remaining where He was.
Again, therefore, by means of the statement Christ addressed to His mother and to the disciple whom He loved we want to find our Mediator and Surety, just as we have wanted to find Him throughout this book. We cannot agree with the claim of those who write of the suffering of Christ in a spirit of love, and who, as they approach the third utterance from the cross remark: “Yes, the first statement which Jesus pronounced on the cross, He spoke as the Mediator, the second as the Son of God, and the third as the Son of man who is anxious about the relatives He is leaving behind. In fact, we can say that in general we have objections to this attempt to point out the “qualities” which distinguish between Christ’s utterances from the cross. For we believe that Christ made all His statements as the Mediator, as the Son of God, and as the Son of man. And we also have our objections to the contention that Christ in this third utterance was laying a special stress upon Himself as a man among men, that in this statement He was placing His humanity “in the foreground.” In the first place, and speaking generally, it is an exegetical and dogmatic error to present Christ as though He turned Himself towards His mother on the cross, pointing His face as it were to the domain of “natural life,” and thus turning His back upon His “official life.” The domain of natural life, even its outermost recesses, is for Christ the domain of His office; besides, the argument itself as indicated in the few words which we cited as being typical, is unwarranted. It is said there that Christ is anxious about the “relatives He is leaving behind.” But that cannot possibly be right. Surely He had more “relatives” than His mother, and, if we work on this assumption, we face the question why Jesus sus, in this respect, does this work now, and not before. Or, again, why now, and not — though it may sound strange — later. Obviously, Christ knew that it would not be right to speak definitely of “relatives being left behind.” The Friday evening was at hand, the Sunday morning almost dawning, and on that Sunday morning Christ would be living again. And, even if after the resurrection His attitude to people and the world would be entirely different, there certainly would be time enough then to care for His mother, and to do this tranquilly and calmly. Indeed, if we think that we have exhausted the significance of the words which Christ addressed to Mary when we have explained them in the way indicated above, many questions remain unanswered.
 P. G. Groenen, op. cit., p. 498.
 John was in the room of the Passover; the burial was directly mentioned (in the anointing).
 After the resurrection; the departure on Good Friday is (if we regard these things as they really are) preliminary; the departure at the ascension is definitive, is final.
 We must state in fairness that the author mentioned in his further exposition of Christ’s statements suggests much broader perspectives than it is possible for us to indicate in the words quoted.
No, it is plain that in the historical events which have their manifestation now, in these as they are in their naked reality, our Saviour is coming to meet us, to meet us all. We are His “relatives” if we do the will of His Father. He is seeking His church, now also, His church and especially His God.
Nor must we distort the historical record which John gives by playing an allegorical game with it. Some do that. There are those, for instance, who present Mary as a type of the Israel which has remained faithful, as “the mother of Christendom.” Thus they look upon Mary in the struggle in which she is involved today. Hence they see in John the type of the new Christendom itself. The conclusion then follows naturally: “Mary” and “John” must find each other. The Israel which has remained and the new Israel must support each other, and must enter into the relationship of mother and son. “He is our peace, who hath made these two one . . .” Go one step farther, and you can use the narrative to point out an alliance between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism and this, too, has been done.
 Niebergall, Praktische Auslegung des Neuen Testaments, p. 254; Holtzman, referred to by Groenen, op. cit., p. 501.
 We by no means wish to say that these two stand in the same relationship to each other as do Israel and Christendom.
However, we shall say nothing more of the interpretation. We come not to see Mary, but to see Christ. At bottom Mary can do nothing but accept, but receive — just as we all. Today she cannot even be with Him in Paradise; the Son does not grant her this privilege.
Now it strikes us at once that Christ by addressing Mary is making a selection. His mother was not the only one who stood at the foot of the cross looking on. Besides Mary, we are told, these others were present: the sister of His mother; Mary, the wife of Cleophas; and Mary Magdalene. Four women: first, Jesus’ mother; second, Salome, the sister of Mary, and aunt of Jesus; third, Mary, wife of Cleophas, and inasmuch as Cleophas was the brother of Joseph, also the aunt of Jesus, just as Joseph was the “father” of Jesus in relationship to the law; fourth, Mary Magdalene. This was a small group but it “represented” all family ties. Here were the physical mother (Mary), and the aunt (Salome). Here were the aunt according to the law (the Mary of Cleophas) and the intimate relative according to the Spirit (Mary Magdalene) who learned to “do” the “will of the Father.” In addition other members of the family were present. From further information given in the gospels it appears that the family circle was very well represented. John himself was there; Salome and the other aunt have already been named; besides, there were many women, who had followed Jesus from Galilee and had served Him; and — the expression used in Luk_23:49 is as general as possible — all His acquaintances stood at some distance. Now it strikes us that the Saviour addressed none of all those persons save his mother and the more intimate disciple John. And Jesus addressed Himself to John only to the extent that He was brought into connection with His mother. Christ spoke to no others in the circle of the family and acquaintances. Nor do we find that anything was said to the group in general. We must say, therefore, that Christ’s address to His mother has peculiar significance. It represented a sovereign choice.
 There is a difference of opinion among interpreters about who are meant here. According to many the sister of Jesus’ mother is the same person as Mary of Cleophas, but if that is correct two sisters both had the same name (Mary). This fact, besides many others, results in a great many suppositions about the identity of Mary (the wife, or the sister, of Cleophas) and the relationships of the families in general. We agree with Groenen, op. cit., 491-494, and with Dr. S. Greijdanus, (an article “Salome” in the Chr. Encycl.) and with Dr. C. Bouma (Korte Verklaring des H. S., “Evangelic van Johannes,” p. 232) who says: “It is not likely that John is mentioning three women. Were that true both sisters would have borne the same name. And it is quite in accordance with John’s effort at anonymity for himself and his family that he does not name the sister of Jesus’ mother. By comparing Mat_27:56 and Mar_15:40 it appears that the mother of John stood at the foot of the cross, and that her name was Salome; and, inasmuch as John names three women besides Jesus’ mother, apparently the same, it seems likely that John’s mother was the sister of Jesus’ mother. Jesus and John were cousins. According to Hegesippus, Cleophas was a brother of Joseph, the husband of Jesus’ mother. This would make Mary, the wife of Cleophas, an aunt of Jesus. Therefore those who surround Mary Magdalene at the cross really represent one family. Thus we can say that there were four women at the cross.”
This is all the more striking if we remember that the last word which Christ spoke in the state of humiliation to men was this address to His mother. The remaining statements from the cross are all about Himself.
In this He is very obedient The last word by means of which Christ enters upon the domain of the second table of the law (the domain of the neighbor) is addressed to her who, according to the first statement of that second table, deserves the first attention according to the rank which she enjoyed in natural life. His thirty-three years of life, of life given to the fulfillment of the law, are being typified in this today and are being found acceptable to God and men. Observe how he gradually individualizes more and more. His first three statements affected men. He begins with those farthest away from Him (the enemies), follows by a reference to His friends (the murderer), and concludes by an address to the mother who had been placed first in the second table of the law (Joseph the father seems to have died already). A holy order, this. It does justice to the neighbor. Thus He passed over — just think of the fourth utterance from the cross — to the first table of the law. He came to God and had no other gods before Him even though God robbed Him of everything. This upward struggle of Christ toward the second, then toward the first table of the law, and this prophetic-servile emphasis on the first words of the two tables, is new evidence to us of His obedience, and of His faithful service to God and His mother. “He that loveth not his brother, his mother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
This alone suffices to point out the division we referred to above to the extent that we human beings are able to “explain” anything here. In one sense, Christ addressed Mary “pro omnibus”: He spoke to her for all. He spoke to her, not because this mother had to become “the mother of the church.” The church has no mother; the church is itself called the Bride; and it has besides a head, a father, a king. The church has no mother; she must herself become a “mother” (Galatians 4). Nor did Christ intend, by addressing His mother, to raise the “natural” relationship in which He stood towards her to the plane of the most important relationship in which He can ever stand towards men. We shall point out after a while that just here Christ is subordinating the natural to the spiritual, that He is putting the natural in the service of the spiritual, and that He makes the ties of blood subservient to the bonds of the Spirit. Christ does not permit Mary to come to the foreground here as the first among women because she had been His mother and because that fully accounted for her service and for His. For, to repeat, we hope to see that His statement to Mary is but a subordinate part of this relentless process of Word and Spirit, in which His mother as mother is thrust into the background, and finds her glory and her consummation not in the exceptional circumstance which raises her above the plane of all women (the motherhood of Jesus), but in that which she shares with all women, that which she has in common with all believing women (her being a member of the church).
 Not in the sense of “inferior.”
No, the reason for which Christ while dying directs His last statement given to men to His mother is that the law commands Him to do so. The law placed father and mother in the foreground in the second table of the commandments, and the law as the revelation of the Word would be so unreservedly trusted by us as to have us believe that whoever does justice to its first charges (for father and mother are that) thereby proves to be doing justice to his neighbor in all of the relationships of that concept. Whoever does justice to father or mother has fulfilled the whole second table of the law and has in principle kept the first table also. The paradigms of the law suffice because they are not paradigms but such as demand the whole service of the whole man. In the primary relationship existing between parent and child the beginnings of life unfold themselves, and the first imperatives of the law in reference to our neighbor there manifest themselves, and in them God comes to us in the forms of authority, and excites conscious life into being. The I-you relationship connects us with our neighbor, and more closely with those two who according to the will of both nature and Spirit are primary to us, namely, the father and the mother. Thus Christ, by means of His immediate sense of the harmony of the law, directs His last statement to His mother. To Him, she stood on the boundary line between two worlds, the two worlds He had to traverse today. In a certain sense He is speaking to her pro omnibus. If He fulfilled the law in reference to this closest neighbor He has fulfilled it in reference to all.
Nevertheless, even though this statement by which Christ seeks out His mother has a general bearing it also has a more specific tendency. Christ places Himself in a specific, individual relationship overagainst mother and disciple. For both He had a command, for both He had a mandate. He Himself, as standing overagainst these two, has received a mandate in respect to them from the Father of all. He puts Himself on a plane above them and on a plane beneath them also inasmuch as He bears their burdens before God, inasmuch as He takes upon Himself the cross for both of them, and inasmuch as He leaves them. Why does He leave them, why does He keep Himself at a distance from them? Because He, not today only, but in the days to come also, presently, that is, after the resurrection, must in an absolute sense be busy in the things of His Father and in those of all His people.
We do not know to what extent Christ saw His brothers as He hung on the cross. We believe that we must accept the fact that He had brothers, both according to the law and according to the birth given them by Mary. Were these brothers present? It is possible that these were numbered with “all His acquaintances” who “stood afar off.” Now if it is true that these were actually present at Golgotha, the choice, the selection, the division which He makes between family and family, and relative and relative is the more striking. He does not choose one of the brothers according to the flesh to care for Mary. He looks over all His brothers as they pass by Him one by one, and He chooses John, the “intimate” disciple, the candidate for apostleship, the young man who within a few weeks will not only be the spiritual brother of Mary by reason of the resurrection of the Prince of the Passover, but, by reason of the spirit of Pentecost, will also be her apostle. Apostle is a weighty concept. It means that John will be entrusted and fitted out with official authority over Mary as a member of the church; it means — think of Ananias and Sapphira — that he will have official authority over her life and death.
 We believe that we must on various grounds reject the interpretation of those who say that “the brothers of the Lord” were not children of Mary and Joseph. However, there would be no point in entering into a discussion of that issue at this time.
Now we can come to grips with the real issue of this matter. Yes, Christ, as He addresses this last statement to His mother, does so as the Son of man. For this name does, in the last analysis, include the general meaning that He is a man among men. As the Son of man He is identical with all men, but He is also the Mediator of God and of men; He is the Surety for His own; He is the history of all times; He is the Prince of the church and the world. As such He performs the work of His office: He compels the natural to serve the spiritual. He remelts the ore of natural life in order that it may again become an instrument which the spirit can employ as the great Worker of religion. He forces the blood into the arteries of the Spirit; He puts the mother on the ways of the apostleship; He makes natural birth the servant of spiritual birth; He makes the specific (Mary’s individual honor) subservient to the general (the formation of the Church). And thus He arrives at His essential business: namely, to provide a substitute Himself, as a blood relative and as an historic wanderer upon the earth. He puts John in His own place and thus fulfills the law of the Kingdom of heaven, fulfills it in and for Himself, and fulfills it in and for those He loves.
Those were weighty words; they were full of significance. But now let us observe their content by pointing out their meaning from the Biblical account read in terms of the unity of all Scripture, and in terms of the analogia fidei.
The story looks domestic and consequently is well known. When Christ, hanging upon the cross, saw His mother standing there among all the other relatives and acquaintances, and saw John standing next to her, He made some dying stipulations about His home. Well, that is also the municipium of all who are about to die. The Christ becomes one of these. And still we must correct our phraseology; for while giving His family those commands He is again in the state of His concealment. Giving His family commandments? But it was not His family; it was not His home. He could give His home no commands, for He had none. Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, and the Son of man lived under the law: the house, the home, remained that of His mother. Well, then, He gave the home of Mary certain commands. And, inasmuch as He is far more qualified than either you or I, He at once goes farther. He also gives commands to the house of Zebedee and Salome, the parents of John and James. He boldly interferes with the program of that home. He demands that the son of Salome support His mother. Woman, see thy son; son see thy mother. The statement does not include two commands, but is a double view of one and the same command. Mary may not with her own hands draw the sword away that is piercing her soul; this is to remain the privilege of her Son. It was for His sake that the sword had originally been thrust through her. He gives the care of His mother into the hands of John. This is the simplest possible meaning of the words. The mother must now give up her own son; for His sake she has been called blessed among women; He has made her life a thing to wonder at. Let the wonder also characterize the separation now: at His behest she is to have another son in His place. As if the wonder could be repeated! Yes, there are mercies which are very brutal. This other son is to be John. Undoubtedly John is the best whom Jesus can choose for this tender charge. Not that we can decide that positively ourselves; but we know that Jesus’ choice is infallible and is not an experimentation. He selects the disciple whom He loved especially; He chooses the son who was related to Mary by ties of blood as his aunt and to Jesus as his cousin. Him the Saviour places next to Mary, and sends them on their way home together; may the sorely wounded soul permit itself to be soothed by the most loved disciple and by the most trustworthy nephew. Thus these two went away hand in hand. And it was evening. And it was night. Thy people are my people, thy God my God.
Sometimes that must be said in this way: What thy God conceals, my God will conceal; what they people mock, mine will mock. This is a love greater than the love of Ruth and Naomi. Can this be the reason for which they conceived of no new name for Mary, and never called her Mara (Rth_1:20)?
 See what was said above in the note #1 above and also the article of Dr. S. Greijdanus on “Salome” in the Christelijke Encyclopaedie, Kampen, Kok, volume 5, p. 22: “The sister of His mother, then, is Salome (compare Mat_27:56 and Mar_15:40) and she, accordingly, proves to be the sister of Mary, the mother of the Lord.” Moreover, she was the mother of James and John (Mat_4:21).
But let us say nothing further about their love lest we forget the lost Son. It is for His sake and because of His love that the Holy Spirit is in action now. This Spirit admonishes us to look closely, for we may not accompany Mary and John before we have seen Christ ministering His office again, before we have seen Christ serving in the capacity of His Messianic office. Yes, He is in His office. Again He exercises the old law which held for all of His work of revelation up to this time. Again He is concealing Himself to “the flesh”; again He is being overlooked and misunderstood in His true essence; but to faith He lays Himself bare. To the believing person He manifests Himself as Prophet, Priest and King. In all these things He lays Himself bare, “even” in the things of the home, the garden, and the kitchen as the Messiah and the Surety.
 “Even”—between quotation marks. For the Mediatorship reaches out to all things in its passionate nisus towards redemption.
We mentioned a moment ago that Christ undergoes a concealment as far as the eye of man is concerned. You wonder what we meant by that? It is indicated in the title of this chapter. Christ is providing a substitute for Himself by putting John in His place.
Christ is concealing Himself. He is even concealing Himself from the members of the family. And is this the farewell of the One who after a few days will be the Prince of the Passover? Is this the tone which He adopts who, three days later, will greet the women and speak to Magdalene and John, and give them a message of life and eternal youth, which they are to communicate to His mother also? Once His brothers “did not believe on Him.” And no one knows with certainty whether they have come to the faith since then. Perhaps they have, but we do not know. It may be that they have, but if so this last statement of Christ, unless God prevents it, can again sweep them on in the course of unbelief, He speaks as if He is not to be found again in all eternity. He acts precisely as does everyone who must postpone the “meetingagain” until the day of judgment. He is hanging among His family and He is silent about the sweet mystery of His resurrection on Sunday morning. You say, He could not speak out freely because of the unbelief of the crowd. If only, then, He had said nothing to His mother. His silence, then, would not have been half so painful as this suppression of the idea of resurrection which now characterizes His statement. In the presence of the whole family He selects a substitute for Himself, a substitute in the home of His mother. Surely this seems to suggest: I am going now, and for the rest you can do nothing except to buy balm, and to let me lie until the last day; for the rest, look to the bosom of Father Abraham. Woman, see thy son — with these words the Messiah conceals Himself by virtue of His Messianic power. As we see it, He is not being “friendly,” the Messianic secret is preserved unimpaired. It is kept a secret even from the family. He seems so cold and distant — dare I use those words? — He leaves the family with the Scriptures as their only support. The Scriptures speak of the resurrection of the dead and of the Messianic day of life. For the rest these relatives had better deal directly with God, and, exercising their faith in the Bible, struggle with the concept of resurrection. This is the great concealment!
It is a concealment; also for John. It was the tenth hour when John had come from his former teacher, the Baptist, to Jesus, that Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Well, he had thought to himself that now the kingdom of peace would dawn and that now, after the powerful statements of the Baptist, sweet honey would flow from the lips of the “Lamb” of God. This must have disappointed Him; the new “teacher” accepted this nephew-disciple with an even stronger term: son of thunder, Boanerges. That is what he and James had been called by the new master. And he had accommodated himself to it, had struggled with the eloquent epithet; this much of it he had understood, that he had to bring much violence and tumult to bear upon the world, that he had to be a son of thunder. For three long years he had pondered the Messianic issue of how human beings make thunder, and how God lets the lightning strike in. But today! Where have the Master and his eloquent epithets gone, Alas, He Himself is quailing in the sombre night; and to the son of thunder, He serenely says, Son, see thy mother. Is this the world mission: to comfort fort a widow inside the four walls of a home and for the rest to await the salvation of the Lord, ad kalendas Domini? Of course, it may be a part of “religion” pure and undefiled to “visit the widows in their affliction” (James 27), but after all, if one has been called a son of thunder, one expects to receive weightier mandates. Jesus, why dost Thou conceal Thyself?
 According to general belief, Joseph, who is never mentioned again throughout the whole narrative, had already died.
Yes, He conceals Himself. He vanishes from the vision of His people behind the vessels in the home of a widow. Once this word had fallen from His lips so that the bystanders heard it, He could not escape the consequences. Now the mockers knew that He did not expect to come down from the cross. He is making His arrangements; He is talking to His mother. It is the preparation of His testament. There is not a single voice to suggest the sign of Jonah the prophet. Is He to be cast into the sea presently and then to be spewed back on dry land again? No, He is adjusting His business, and, to all appearances knows nothing about the great fish and the wonder. So forthrightly does He acknowledge that He Himself is expecting death, and so publicly does He avert His eyes from any sign of redemption, that the mockery, still to be heaped upon Him, will really be a rather flat and uninteresting kind of scoffing, for they will say: “He is calling Elijah; let us see whether he will come.”
Thus He conceals Himself. To what end? “In order that seeing they may not see, and hearing, they may not hear.” Mother, see thy son. What else is this but a reassertion and further maintenance of His maschil, here, among these unbelieving? Now this self-concealment of the “Christ” has its culmination in “Jesus’ ” substitution of another man for Himself. This is a strange matter: His place is to be taken by another. Can He be supplanted by another? He? Surely the Christ can have no adequate substitute. It is impossible to suppose that anyone in His stead could be His substitute, could fulfill the task of Jesus either partially or completely. Nevertheless, it is a part of the law of incarnation that He as Jesus, as an historical person who moves about on earth at this particular time, and lives here and there in Palestine, is to be supplanted by another in part. In His human activity, in His social relationships, He subjected Himself to the law which God laid down for all.
 Christ on Trial, chapter 5: p. 103 f., chapter 19: 363 f., and chapter 21: 388 f.
Yes, indeed, to a certain extent, Christ can choose a successor to Himself. We are not going beyond the bounds of reverence or faith when we say that, superficially considered, Jesus’ substitute in caring for His old mother could take much of Jesus’ work from His shoulders, could possibly give her even more than He Himself could. For Jesus in these last days surely could not have “meant much” to His mother. The office which God had assigned to Him laid its claims on His entire time. It carried Him far from home; it made Him the servant of all. The more the years elapsed, the more basically Mary had to relinquish her first born. Thus it is quite possible that on a “calm Saturday,” in which John gently comforted Mary, he gave her more of companionship and consideration than Jesus had given His mother for some time. Therefore, considered in general, much of the ordinary human contact between mother and son could be transferred to John; this would be quite possible, if only the substitute understood the soul of Mary, and if only he belonged to the “remnant of election” which in those day was concealed in Israel and shattered at the cross.
Nevertheless all these considerations do not remove the fact that Jesus as He was in essence and as He was in His true calling could not possibly have an adequate substitute. There is no “Seth” to take the place of this Abel for Mary (see Gen_4:25). Together with Him the great mystery entered into Mary’s life. Angels sent a ray of light down to her house straight from heaven. The power of the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. The wonder accompanied the Child. She was unique among women, but only because He was unique.
Now if it is true that Christ is allowing His place to be filled by His nephew John, what can we say of this except that it is a further instance of His self-concealment? “The” Son of man gives His afflicted mother an ordinary solace, as though He were “a” son of man. His name was an ordinary name, His house, His life, His business were as ordinary as those of others. So was His departure. In it a son was caring for his poor old mother.
If you would fathom the riddle contained in this, place the first mother on the first page of the New Testament next to the first mother on the first page of the Old Testament, place Mary next to Eve. Only by introducing both members in that way can we justify ourselves in comparing the one with the other. Both mothers stand at the beginning of a new epoch of time. But there is this great point of difference: The one mother bears sons which have adequate substitutes, but the other mother was given her firstborn son as one for whom there could never be an adequate substitute.
Eve had her Cain, and she had her Abel, and Seth came to her in Abel’s stead when Cain had put his brother to death. Seth is the substitute, the successor; the name which Eve gave him indicates that beyond a doubt. “I name him Seth because God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel.” Give Eve the privilege of saying this. She bears sons solely by reason of “the will of man.” The one can substitute for the other to the extent that is possible among men. For, Eve’s is the wealth of the poor. She has the many; her children are numerous; men can count them and give the number. And that which can be numbered, that which can be assigned a “number,” can be given a substitute. The limited and finite can fill the empty place left by the limited and finite. At least “to a certain extent.” And maternal feeling doubtless will not quarrel about the reasonableness of the phrase “to a certain extent.”
Now return to Mary. Hers is not “a” son but “the” son. She has given birth to the great Son, to the “man” child who was “to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Revelation 12). The relationship of Eve to Mary cannot be seen rightly unless it is seen in the light of Revelation 12. In that transporting chapter all the mothers who bore the “seed of woman” into the world are subsumed under the one visionary image of the “woman” who has her head in the clouds, the moon under her feet, filling all heaven and earth, she who gives many birth, but really gives birth definitively but once. She gives birth to many, for there is a reference to the “remnant of her seed.” Yes, there are many. However, there is but one definitive birth. For in the fullness of time she bears the one son, the man child, who by His power will dominate the clouds. That one is the Christ.
In this way everything is given its proper position, and in this way the relationship contained in the birth registers of the seed of the woman are properly delineated. Thus Eve takes the right position, and Mary also. And thus the mystery of the third utterance from the cross is disclosed.
For who is the woman of Revelation 12? She is not Eve, and she is not Mary. She is not a queen of heaven who happens to have been given a human name. For, all mothers giving birth by the Spirit for the church and in the church are included in this one woman. She is the church, and Eve and Mary are members of this one great body which is the church. Eve is one among these many; and Mary is one. To the extent, now, that Eve and Mary have been incorporated into the mystical body of the one church the maternal travail and the maternal joy of the one is set on the same historic plane as those of the other, and both become of coordinate importance together with their children. On the other hand, however, this chapter teaches us also that a great difference exists between these two mothers and their children. It is an eschatological difference, a very important difference. The son of Mary is the great One among all sons. He is the man child among those many anonymous persons who have been classified under the common title: “the remnant of her seed.” These others are incompetent to perform the “masculine” deed of turning the world upside down and ruling it.
To the extent, then, that this one masculine Son cannot be adequately replaced by any of “the remnant of her seed,” that which Mary accomplished by her travail as God’s religious woman can be compared with nothing. It is a unique thing. In this way we can find the connection between Revelation 12 and Luke 23. Here on Golgotha is “the man” son who was to rule the heathen with a rod of iron. Now He has become the weakest son of all. He sinks to a plane below “the remnant of her seed.” Never was any of them so weak, so emptied. He is “a worm,” and not a “man child.” He is the object of mockery and disdain. This is His objective concealment. Now, by means of His utterances, He is appropriately fitting Himself into that objective pattern. By means of His third utterance from the cross He is fitting Himself in with the legion of anonymous ones. These are the little ones who can possibly find their name mentioned in the books of history, but who are too insignificant to be specially mentioned in the apocalyptic vision of Revelation 12. The one man child takes one of those many anonymous sons, and substitutes this one for Himself. Thus He hides Himself, He who is unique among many, He who can be assigned no “number,” but is the head of all, and therefore irreplaceable in all eternity. He is the center, but He speaks as though He were the periphery. He is “the first of many brethren,” but He acts as though He were an ordinary brother, one who can be replaced.
Nevertheless, even in this concealment, He is revealing Himself to those who believe. It is precisely for those who believe that He asserts Himself as the unique man Child, whom none can replace, as Surety and Mediator. “Woman, see thy son.” He must help you to overlook him, and to understand the Great Son in His Messianic essence. Son, see thy mother, — but see her in faith; it will consume the honor of being my substitute, and give me alone the honor. Yes, Christ ministers His office, and, accordingly, does the work that can be transferred to no one. Faith detects its Prophet, Priest, and King, and in these constantly detects its Surety and Mediator.
Christ speaks as prophet. This is the work of a prophet: to place historical and natural life in the light of the eternal, the creative, the sovereign good pleasure of God. Thus Christ prophesies now. What is the salutation He uses? He does not say “mother” but “woman.” Is this a lack of respect? No, it is an assignment of position. Precisely by assigning another son to her and thus basically separating Himself from her eternally as far as the ties of blood are concerned, Christ is delineating the future and illuminating the present by means of eternity. Mary is no longer His mother; accordingly, she is put into her place. She is a member of the body of the church; her travail has gone by, but that of the church not yet. As for her, as a church member among many members she is given a general, and not a specific and individual name. From this time on she will no longer be regarded in a concrete, actual, historical connection as “the” mother of Jesus, but as “a” member of the church. Hence she is called “woman.” The Angel of the church, the King of the church, assigns a chair to her in the great congregation. The chair given her is not a chair of honor, such as Rome has provided for her, and such as Rome each day takes the trouble to dust off anew. For Mary must completely sacrifice herself. She, too, must spurn every display of glory which would place her in the center of things, which would darken the sun of Jesus. Her chair presently will be standing in an inconspicuous corner. That becomes apparent from the first chapter of Acts; in that chapter an irony sufficient to perturb us greatly is speaking. Presently a little group will gather “in an upper room.” There they are to await the feast of Pentecost (the return of Christ). There the company present are named in a significant order. The men first and the women afterwards. First the apostles, the office-bearers who have been called to their duty; after that those who were related to Jesus by ties of blood — Mary and the brothers of the Lord. First the spiritual family; then the “natural” family as members of the spiritual communion. Mary is seated in the background. The apostles now are seated in the place of honor; theirs are the best positions; their names are written first in the register, not the name of Mary. Mary no longer has a special position of honor, but the apostles, John included, are given a special mark of honor, a special privilege which distinguishes them from others. At the time Mary had been called to an exceptional service in the domain of nature, in the domain of flesh and blood. Now the apostles are to be called to a special service, and this time in the domain of the spirit. They are given an office which can be transferred to no one in the world. This office will be just as untransferable and incapable of substitution as Mary’s motherhood had been. Theirs will be the calling of the direct ministration of the office, of prophesying the Word, of ruling the church; this spiritual charge has been given them in a specially sealed letter of privilege. Mary, too, will presently have to bow reverently before this apostleship.
Now it is true that not all of this is proclaimed in the salutation “woman,” for Christ is concealing Himself; but that salutation does make room for these consequences. As often as Christ called His mother “woman” He wanted to assign Himself and her their respective positions in relation to the office. What we have here, therefore, is an instance of prophesying.
Thus the third utterance from the cross puts Mary in her place. In Luke 2 and in Luke 23, next to the manger and to the cross, she is standing on ground which has already been covered; there she stands head and shoulders above the others. But Revelation 12 sees this exalted figure dwindled into smaller size. Only a member of the church remains. These are the two methods of revelation contained in the Scriptures: the historic and the apocalyptic. The third utterance from the cross, together with its salutation, constitutes the link between them, and illuminates the connection between them. Step aside — this is an instance of prophesying. Woman, relinquish your hold on me and take another son. Endure the fact that he is to accompany you. Do not touch me, do not cling to me, that is what He will say to Mary Magdalene on Sunday morning. But in the complicated form of this self-concealing word He is already saying it to His mother, to her who formerly was His mother. Let go of me, Mary, do not touch me, for the ways of the kingdom of heaven, and the campaign songs of the Lord God which impinge upon history eschatologically, make for schism. Woman, let go of me; I am yours no longer; hereafter I belong to everyone; thus it is meet for us to fulfill all righteousness. I am still descending to Satan, ascending to my Father.
Thus He comes to His second office and becomes Priest. He gladly gives away the gifts of God. He gives Mary hers; what more can she ask? No man can live by that which distinguishes him from others; he lives only in fellowship with the common gift. Thus Christ blesses His mother. He gently leads her from the natural union with “Jesus” to the mystical union with “Christ.” He removes the form of “Jesus,” in order that the figure of “Christ” may take form in her. He does not lead her into temptation but delivers her from evil. She was being tempted — more than Thomas — to isolate herself from others because of her special experiences, to exalt herself above the apostles, to appeal to her beautiful past. Now He puts an apostle next to her. Very gently the Son leads the mother to the feast of Pentecost; there He will be returned to her, but to the others at the same time. He accepts the member of the church, and therefore He relinquishes the mother. He cuts the ties that bind Him in order that they may continue to bind. He thrusts her back, but essentially He strengthens her. He rescues Mary.
He has gifts for John too. John has been called “Jesuphile” in contrast to Peter who was given the name “Christophile.” The names were intended to show that Peter tended to elaborate the idea of Christ as God’s office-bearer, whereas John loved intimacy with Jesus in His historical manifestation as friend and rabbi. However, we shall not accept this distinction. Jesus, who chooses His intimates with great care, condemned it. It was John who had to sustain her in that conflict of soul which resulted from her relinquishing “Jesus” and accepting “Christ.” Thus it was John’s duty to help Mary become “Christophile.” Thus the Priest also puts John in his place. He ordains him for his work in life. As a mild Patron, He does this step by step, stage by stage. Just now John, as a son, is still subordinate to Mary. The priest keeps John in a condition of subservience because it is good for him. It is not the day of Easter yet, and therefore John, too, may not enjoy a premature Easter gladness. But, in the meanwhile, Christ prepares for new situations, and arranges these according to His good pleasure. John is subordinate to Mary now, for one person must anoint the feet of Jesus with nard, and the other must shed tears on Mary’s veil, and both must do it in preparation for His burial. Now the maxim still reads: Woman, see thy son; son, see thy mother. But after a few days, when Easter has come, these two will be the equal of each other in the exalted Lord. For in the “Kurios” there is neither man, nor woman, nor “mother,” nor “son.” Then the maxim will read: Sister, see thy brother; brother, see thy sister. And on the day of Pentecost — think again of the first chapter of the Acts — the relationship existing today will be reversed. Then John will be a prince of the church to Mary and she will be without office in a growing fellowship of church members. Then the maxim will read: Church member, see thy apostle; apostle, see thy church member. The Priest is in God’s house here; He assigns each to his own place, for in the house of the Father, here below also “there are many mansions.” And meanwhile, by virtue of the satisfaction He by His priesthood has achieved, He awakens their religious talents in them, and willingly takes the gifts of the Spirit from their trembling hands. O marvellous deed of the Priest. He Himself enters His catastrophes, but He saves His own from them. He sees to it that — in spite of their many troubles — the homogeen continuum of service is assured them. He sanctifies them.
 We shall return to this point presently.
Have you seen your Priest properly? For He is the Priest of us all. He relinquishes His mother, for He does not wish to belong to her by fleshly ties any longer but by spiritual bonds. O gentle voice of a priest. I hear Him saying softly but positively: Let the dead bury their dead, but do you two arise, and follow the Christ by seeking Jesus no longer. Perform your actual service in that way, for this before God is religion. Who is my mother, my cousin, my brother? He that doeth the will of my Father, he is my brother, and my mother, and my sister, and my cousin.
By this statement Christ also asserts Himself by virtue of His kingship. He is King on this occasion. You remember how often we related His kingship to the exercise of His right of requisition. On this occasion He proves to be a royal Requisitioner fully conscious of His authority. As a matter of fact, this third utterance from the cross is the crown of all His acts of requisition. Salome, the mother of John, and John himself are here. Now Salome, according to the belief elaborated above, was the aunt of Jesus, the sister of Mary. Always Christ demanded and laid claim on that which seemed best for Him, for His own official ministration. He interfered with the business, with the big business, of his uncle Zebedee, when he told James and John (two brothers), sons of Zebedee and Salome, and Jesus’ cousins: Follow me. They abandoned their father’s business and followed this remarkable cousin. This was the first act of requisition. By it He was saying to Salome: Aunt, woman, overlook thy sons; and He was saying to John: Son, overlook thy mother. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. That was the beginning. And then? Christ also interfered with the finances of the family. Not only did he take two representatives out of the firm — for they were active in their father’s business — but He also made demands on their capital. Salome gave him some of her goods; and it certainly was no easy thing to let thirteen people live for several years without working. And now — as if that were not enough — this moment. First He took Salome’s two sons from her, then He demanded money, and thus He interfered with the future of both. Now He is hanging on the tree, everything seems lost, but He does not hesitate to exercise His right of requisition, and take Salome’s son from her beforehand for the period to follow Hisdeath. John must leave his house and his ship behind for all time, must take Mary with him, and must take care of the aunt instead of the mother. Still it was true that John’s mother had also been wounded in her soul, for she had also loved Jesus greatly.
 See again the article “Salome” by Dr. S. Greijdanus in Chr. Enc., volume 5, p. 22, in which, however, we must not overlook the phrase “it seems likely.”
 This thought is based on the indication that hired servants were kept for the business (Mar_1:20).
Such is the will of the king. But who is there who would dare to contradict? He does not make His demands for Himself; His royal act is also the act of the priest. True, He acts in conformity with His dominant style. He began the week of the passion with a double demand. The first was for the city of Jerusalem by way of stating for the last time how matters stood (the foal of an ass). The second came by way of telling the church how matters would stand in all eternity (the room of the Holy Supper). Now He makes the last demand of the week. He makes a love-feast — an “Agape” the first Christians called it — of the Holy Supper. Just as the first Christians in their gatherings added the love-feasts to the Holy Supper; that is, they added the natural care of the needy whom Jesus had left behind (mark that modification here), to the proclamation of His death. And just as they in this united the requisition of the room of the Passover and of the soul of cousin John for Aunt Mary, so Christ willed that it should be. He is proclaiming ecclesiastical law, He, the King of the church. This represents a holy order, a lavish love; and at the same time it represents a regulation of the new church which is to arise out of this blood. Indeed this act of requisition is already a self-display of the coming prince of the Passover.
 Christ in His Suffering, chapter 5: p. 106 f; see also chapter 7: p. 150 f.
 Ibid, chapter 7: p. 150 f.
Hence we can also say unhesitatingly that this act of requisition is not less marvellous than Christ’s super-paradoxical “amen.” His last “amen” is being followed by a super-paradoxical requisition.
 See chapter 12: p. 245.
At this point the tendency of our thoughts returns to the point from which they departed. It is beyond doubt that the person who makes claims and the person upon whom the claim is made are two different people. And it is also true without any doubt that the person who demands and accepts the gifts of souls for himself is more than he who is claimed. The (absolutely) claimed one is the one who can (relatively) be replaced; but the absolute Requisitioner is always the One whose justice and beauty dazzle us. No one in the world can substitute for Him. To take something, if we follow it to its logical conclusion, is to take something absolutely; it is a simple deed, the deed of one, and not the deed of two or more; it is the deed of my Lord and my God. Therefore we say, that Christ, although He concealed Himself from the Jews and from “the flesh,” revealed Himself beautifully and gloriously to those who believed. He triumphed also in this act of requisition. His right to lay claim — we elaborated upon that to a considerable extent — was completely challenged and at bottom was denied (See chapter 11). When His coat was raffled, this denial, this acute, sharp, bitter and demonic denial issued in the extremest possible consequences. Nevertheless Christ, although He was completely naked, fully exercised His right to requisition in the presence of the rafflers and dickerers. Surely, this is triumph. He comes up out of the abysses of paradoxical conflict in triumph as a thinker when He utters His super-paradoxical “amen,” and in His super-paradoxical act of requisition He comes up out of the eternal abysses as the Owner. In the great, fundamental issues of the state of privilege and of the possession of privilege, Christ gloriously asserted Himself overagainst all appearances.
In all this He is our Surety. Blessed is he who is not offended by such a Surety. As Surety He proclaims the place of the history of revelation, the place of His death. That first. And as the Surety He also enters into this death. That next.
As the Surety He puts His own death on its proper plane by means of the third statement from the cross. He gives Mary and John work to do. He has no patience for letting Mary or any other person be troubled by His “death,” from the late Friday evening to the early Sunday morning (a day and two parts of a day). He does not want them to suffer because of the death in itself. Nothing exists “in itself,” He does not want to see a single day lived in lamentation about the death of Mary’s lost Son. His mother may not be a Rachel, for Rachel refuses to be comforted because her children are not. Woe to Mary, if she, a second Rachel, should make the death of her Son the uninhibited cause of comfortless sorrow. A Benoni is not acknowledged in God’s house. We are the children of His sorrow; let us not reverse the order. Thus He presents a Benjamin to His mother; He cannot die in God’s house. He places that disciple on her right and on her left side who was chosen of all men by the spirit of God to write the profoundest things which were ever said in the world about the interrelationship of God’s thoughts in the historical life of the man Jesus. He has His mother supported not by a “synoptic” soul, but by the spirit of John. John was the disciple who up to this time understood most about Him, and who was permitted to write about the Word made flesh under the impelling drive of the Spirit. John had apparently been predestined by the creative father of spirits in his thinking and being for that task from his birth on upwards; he had been prepared for it by virtue of predestination, and this man, Jesus places next to Mary. This is the quiet Saturday. That was a day in which Joh_1:14, the great prologue of the great gospel of John, was already approached by two seeking souls. On that day the Holy Spirit overshadowed those two who could say the most about the Logos made flesh. The flesh was Mary’s; it was torn apart by God. The spirit was John’s; it was torn apart by God. The one, Mary, knew how fleshly the Logos was; He had assumed her flesh and blood. The other, John, knew how truly the Logos had entered into the flesh: the Logos had assumed his spirit, the spirit of John, son of Zebedee. Therefore Jesus gave His mother the best He could give: He assigned the death suffered in His Suretyship to the right place. In other words, He strictly forbade these two intimate persons, intimate according to the flesh and intimate according to the spirit, to accentuate the moment of His death in a way cut loose from faith, or while their backs were turned to God, the God who implants faith in human souls. This third utterance from the cross resembles “natural” love (philein); but from A to Z it is spiritual love (agapaan). Christ’s most devoted care for His mother Mary is a strict command, carried out on Good Friday, not to look upon His death “erotically,” not to approach it “psychologically,” or “sensually,” or “naturally,” and not to become steeped in it by way of impossible grief. Francis of Assisi is helpless overagainst this utterance, and all erotic souls of every epoch are being summoned here to convert themselves to the spiritual love. Christ proclaimed His death as the death of His Suretyship (again on the assumption of faith). He said: This death is the way; it must take place thus; and therefore John, doctor dogmaticus that he is, and already waxing strong in the spirit, must support the mater dolorosa until he shall sometime write an account of the gospel. For it is not the nature of flesh and blood, but the spirit born of God, which can see the death of Jesus in the proper light, and can struggle through the transition from the last Sabbath to the first Sunday on a quiet Saturday.
So much for the first point. And this for the second. Christ also assumed His death in speaking that third utterance from the cross. To suffer shame in the presence of those nearest us, to see those nearest us as the ones who are really the most distant, is also an instance of the passion of the Surety, for it belongs to the essence of the penalty. In hell each person turns aside from every other, because there no one can love. Christ is not such; He can love, and He does. And hence He, by an effort, sets the others apart from Himself, and Himself apart from the others. But this active obedience is again related to the passive obedience. He is being segregated from the others, from those whom He loves. This is His suffering; this is His suffering of the penalty for our sin, a penalty which takes the form of disruption. What is sin at bottom but the primary and elemental principle of schism. It introduces segregation between father and mother, parent and child; it puts the single individual to shame in the presence of the most intimate communion which life knows. This penalty, and this punishment, He now assumes, looking it full in the face. Thus He suffers a spiritual death. However, He suffers as the Surety, that is, He gains the victory over the spiritual death. That capacity to unite by means of which He draws John and Mary together, consumes the disruptive influence of sin. This it does at the right time. For this power of disruption which is of the essence of sin had just accrued to Him on that stage of mockery which we discussed before. The mockery of hell with which He was afflicted was a clear manifestation and assertion of the disruptive power of sin. Hence we can say that the third utterance from the cross refers to the past as well as to the future. Rejected and abandoned Himself, our Surety makes a great effort to bind the disrupted together again. He unites disparate entities; He unites the profound spirit of John with the sensitive soul of the mother; He unites the man with the woman and makes sons out of cousins. The robbery which He commits against Salome becomes a blessed delight to her. This is because of His Spirit. He triumphantly metamorphoses the reflection upon the day of the definitive death, into a preparation for the most beautiful of days, the dawning of Easter.
In all this, however, the Surety assumes His isolation. For He cannot dispose of these profound feelings of love to anyone. His love is so spiritual (agapaan), that they can find no adequate forms in which to express themselves (philein). Such a love is a consuming love. At least it consumes human nature. Hence He must be consumed because of this love. No wonder, therefore, that it carries out its fatigued command immediately before His descent into hell. His love can no longer express itself without a struggle; He is approaching the edge of hell. He is alone. Another moment, and it will be dark upon Golgotha, and the darkness will last for three hours; thereupon the last struggle will impinge upon Him from the outside; when that happens Love will have forsaken Him entirely. Nevertheless He assumes His lot and His isolation. It is remarkable, is it not, that before the darkness, and before the great exclamation of the fourth statement from the cross, He sends His mother away. Did He know what was still coming? Did He feel it? We dare not say any more than we know, but we believe that He wanted to be in a right relationship with all men, with all forces of the earth, before He sank away in the bottomless abysses of the griefs of hell. And He knew that these would come.
Thus He enters upon His isolation.
At the Valley of the Shadow, we say, all friends forsake us. Yes, that is the way we put it. But He could not say it that way. When He enters upon the valley of death, He bids His earthly friends adieu, He puts Himself into a state of isolation. Again I understand Him better now as He says, not “mother,” but “woman.” Hereafter He will have no mother anymore. Even on Easter day and on the day of Ascension He will give His mother conspicuously little, much “less” than many others. The austere logic of His own sublime diction subsides not at all. Yes, woman, just go now; I am taking leave of mother for all centuries, and for all eternity.
Thereupon Christ entered upon the final trial. But by sending His mother away beforehand He in the final act as a Priest creatively fulfilled this stipulation of the law: Greet no one upon the way. In the hour in which one must serve God directly, no one must be spoken to enroute. Greeting God, one automatically greets all those who are His. And this must suffice for them, whether they understand it or not. Greet no one upon the way. For souls and movements of souls may not pause on the open routes of the Spirit. Just as a priest in Israel may not grieve because of the death of those dear to him, inasmuch as a priest may not allow himself to be interrupted in the ministration of his office, so Christ forbids, by way of making the command and its austerity even profounder, that any lamentation be made for Him without faith. The High Priest sends His mother away before the utmost of the penalty is demanded, of Him, and before the extreme of punishment tortures Him. He did not pause on the way; His eye was steady in spite of the proximity of His mother; He kept His gaze steadily upon His helplessly embarrassed people.
 Christ on Trial, chapter 8: pp. 161, 162.
Accordingly, we can say that this substitution on the part of the Nazarene was an instance of church-service. The family received the official ministration of religion. It grieved Him greatly, it caused Him extreme pain to minister this service. We alluded to Eve a few paragraphs ago, but the conflicts of Eve are explained here. When Adam had seen the light of evangelical grace dawning over a cursed world, he changed the name of his wife. First she was called Woman, but after God had pronounced the blessing of the Redeemer which should be born of her seed he changed her name to live, for she was to be the mother of all living. This in Adam was faith. The name woman is a name for the present. The man is for the woman, and the woman for the man. They play together in the present. But the name mother here is an eschatological name; it represents a struggle for the future, and a reaching out for benefits to come. God Himself had said that redemption was to come from their children, from their future. Hence Adam now names his wife not after herself, but after his posterity, She is no longer here in order to play an Arcadian game with him in the present (man and woman), but they together are here to suffer and to travail for the future which must produce the seed.
 In the familiar mother promise Gen_3:15.
However, his faith was still groping, was still uncertain. When was the Great Child to appear? Alas, Eve is the mother “of all living.” Hence it may still take a long time. . . .
Now that great birth has finally taken place. And the mother, she who could really be the mother of this prince of life, of this great seed of the woman, might stand here . . . but stand next to a cross. The woman has entirely disappeared, and the game, the game of life, has ceased. The mother arose; she was entirely broken, and the Great Son sends her to the house of hard consolations. He sends Himself into death. If Adam could have seen this hour from afar the name of the mother of all living would have died on his lips. But the second Adam who conceals all His strength in the words of His self-substitution, still asserts Himself as the Prince of life. The game had died out; but thus it was restored again. For, now that the issue is squarely confronted, it appears, not that the Child is to be explained in terms of the mother, but the mother in terms of the child. And hence the Child leaves the mother in obscurity. Only faith can remove the darkness.
Thus Christ is our peace also, in nature, in flesh, and in blood. Adam and Eve are explained today. The Son explains the parents. Yes, this Son explains His fathers and His mothers, all of them together. Father David, also, finds his explanation and fulfillment in David’s son. David, during his life, had also been aware of an afflicted mother who directed a question to his house. W