And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
We know that the people whose lives are recorded in the Bible were real. Abraham, Noah, Daniel, Hagar, Rahab, Mary…and the others, were all real people who lived a life on earth with all their joys and trials, and heartaches and triumphs. They did their jobs, sang and laughed, worshiped, prayed, ate, relaxed, and did everything real people do.
Sometimes we read about their lives on the pages of the Bible and as inspired as we are, we tend to think of these people as object lessons, as in, what can I learn from their lives that will inspire me to further obedience or knowledge of Christ?
I see people close to me going through difficulties and heartaches. Some have aging parents in poor health, some are experiencing grief because of death, some are parents with ill children or have children who have received dread diagnoses.
The Lord saw fit to place me in this era and in this nation, where, as a Christian, I am not currently being stalked, hunted, killed, persecuted, or arrested. I know our brethren in the closed countries are, but as of now I personally am not. Sometimes I feel guilty about that, but then again, this is when and where the Lord created me, He appointed times and seasons for everything, so I cannot speak back to the Potter.
I think some of the greatest agonies ever endured. Number one has to be the separation Jesus endured when God withdrew from Him on the cross. “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?” Jesus cried. (Matthew 27:46–47). The glory and intimacy He had enjoyed for all eternity with the Father was broken, and Jesus was alone in the dark, spiritually bereft.
If there is a number two agony someone had endured, could it be Jesus’ Mother, Mary, watching her Son hung up as a criminal, beaten, tortured, and dying in front of her eyes? Most mothers believe in their sons. Moms tend to err on the side of their innocence, proclaiming their son’s non-guilt to anyone who would listen. However of all mothers who ever lived, Mary alone knew she had a perfect Son. He never did a wrong thing. He never harmed anyone. Growing up, He treated everyone with perfect courtesy, perfect consideration, perfect attention, perfect honor, perfect trust, perfect love…the list is infinite because Jesus’ qualities as God were perfectly and fully manifested in His human life.
So for Mary to see her beautiful Son, hung up as the lowest criminal, on the most dastardly method of execution ever invented, must have been a grief only mothers can conceive of, and even all other mothers can’t know the depths of her spiritual and motherly despair.
Jesus knew His mother’s temporal agony would be great and her future as a widow would be uncertain. The Lord is good and kind.
When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” So from that hour, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)
He also knew her spiritual agony would be great too. As Barnes’ Notes says,
Yea, a sword … – The sufferings and death of thy Son shall deeply afflict thy soul. And if Mary had not been thus forewarned and sustained by strong faith, she could not have borne the trials which came upon her Son; but God prepared her for it, and the holy mother of the dying Saviour was sustained.
The Lord of all is so great, kind, wonderful. He is the originator of our faith, the pinnacle of perfection. And yet even as he looked ahead to the sure knowledge of imminent separation from the Father, a moment none of us can even plumb the surface of, never mind the depths, Jesus cared for His weeping and agonizing mother. He sustained her in her faith and spiritually carried her through her agony.
Whatever agony you endure, especially if you are a mother, remember Mary. Remember that even though her crisis was one that no other mother can even attempt to understand, we can still sympathize. It gets even better, because Jesus is there to help us, sustain us, give us the courage to endure. He did for Mary. He will for you.