First words were to his Father (for us and especially those responsible for His death)

Second to a terrorist

Third caring for family

Jesus, in agony, dying, is teaching us it is always first about others

John 19:23-27

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.” So that is what they did. 25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.

What was going through John’s mind? It could have been thisJ

Can you imagine what it must have ben like to watch your best friend die? Or even worse your son die?

Everyone at the foot of the cross, took a risk at being there, they too could have ended up on a cross of their own but their love overcome their pain and their fear.

So did Jesus’ love, as his body has been torn apart, His back ripped, shredded by a cat of nine-tails, rubbing up and down against splinter filled wood, every breath caused him to push up on the nails in his hands and feet, the thorns from the crown digging ever deeper into his scalp yet with love he looked through time to see you and me to say, “forgive them”, with love he looked at a broken, hopeless individual who looked Jesus in his broken condition but had seen enough of his reaction on the cross, heard the stories of this man and despite being in the same condition he knew Jesus to be God and Jesus welcomed him into paradise with Him

Through all of this pain, he cared about His mother and the disciple that he loved, John. He could have asked one of his brothers to care for her but he knew it would be good for John as well as Mary.

What incredible love to put the needs of family before your own? Have we lost that in our culture? When we put our families needs before our own we are reflecting Jesus

Dads when you are tired and weary after a long day and the kids want your time to play or read to them and you do, you are being Jesus. Mom’s when you get up early and pack the kids lunches or spend those precious few moments talking with them preparing them for school…you are being Jesus to them…when both of you have done all of these things for your children and you continue to do them for them even as adults but have still not heard “thank you”….you are being Jesus to them

But there are times where we can’t be there to fix it, to help…things happen to our children and as a parent you would gladly do anything for them, even take their place if you could  protect and defend your children, we can’t stand to watch our children hurt..can you imagine what Mary felt that day

Mary was not alone she was with the other two Marys and John. When we go through difficult places we need people who will be WITH us. We need people in our lives that will as John states here  regarding Marys and John, they will “stand by” and “stand with” us…Let’s look at something for a moment…Peter made this statement in 1 Peter 2:9

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”

The idea of a priest is a person who will stand by us and stand with us.God has placed His Holy Spirit in us, He is meant to lead, guide and bring all things to our remembrance but He is also to help us pour into the lives of others that is part of the reason for the gifts and fruit…a priest is WITH others so you can take what God has given you to pour into the broken and hurting.

Even in Jesus’ pain, he was loving, caring, being our savior and friend. Even in His pain he was working to pour out what he had in him to others so they might be cared for and become who God had called them to be…he was reflecting the Father as he was WITH them….There is a rather odd, almost out of place scripture verse I want us to look at

John 5:17

But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”

This is what Jesus was doing from the cross,  he was being WITH his mother caring for her from the cross and WITH his best friend he was being present in their lives even in His moments of pain…he was giving us an example of how we must be always WITH all of those he places in our lives….

Too often we look for a plan or a program to impact the lives of others, even for our church to do it…and they do but they are most effective when you have spent the time to be WITH those in your family, at work, in your neighborhood and school. It is the caring, loving being Jesus to the world before that makes everything else work so much better to help people find their true calling and purpose in Jesus

Leonard Sweet in his book “Nudge” says sometimes it is less about our witness than our “with-ness”

Being present with people allowing them to come along side of us, seeing our lives and what Jesus has done and is doing for us so they can understand what he can and will do for them is being “WITH” them in a way that Jesus was with John and his mother even at the cross

Rather than needing to preach at people they need us to be with them, then they will understand our hearts…

It is why Jesus went to the cross so that we might understand that because Jesus went, God is now with us always as the Holy Spirit fills us to overflowing everyday if we allow Him to do so…He wants you then to take that understanding of His being WITH you to being WITH others so they might get to know the Jesus you know…because they see HIM in you as you are WITH him

Remember the scripture I read earlier about us being royal priest? In order to be a priest you must be with people being one who stands between them and God being with them.

I know it is often difficult to be there for people, to be “with them” but once again let’s look at Jesus example from the cross

John 19:26,27

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.

I know often it is not convenient to be with people, to care for them, to love on them, sometimes it robs us of our comfort to comfort others, it robs us of our time to be there for other, the phone calls, the texts, the times of encouragement face to face…if we look again at what Jesus said we see even in pain seeing the pain in others and loving them more even though they were separated by the cross…he was WITH them

Mothers have you ever had a time when you saw you child in overwhelming pain it breaks your heart, I’m sure every person in this room has felt the heart break for someone they love going through pain…it is in these times that the church is there to be WITH you…we are a family and when you are not going through your pain…you are to be there to be WITH others…that is Jesus example on the cross

But it goes beyond our getting our needs met we see Jesus in his personal agony not biting the heads off of others, not is he lashing out even though he is under great stress and duress instead we see him patiently still loving

Our hurts, pains, stresses, wounds do not absolve us from still acting loving and kind toward others….no matter the hurt and pain you are in look at Jesus example…we no longer have a pass to say “I’m just having a bad day” we have to be loving and “In the moment” because he is always WITH us…we need to learn to live in his presence and be WITH others even in our pain.

What we see in this moment on the cross is that before Jesus said “it is finished” he loved and cared for those most vulnerable

Despite the brokenness of his body and circumstances He was WITH those in need

So where are you today?

If you are broken and hurting the church is here for you…you are loved and we will be WITH you

BUT at the same time

In your pain, you need to challenge yourself to reflect Jesus to be loving even in your pain

For those who are not hurting the challenge is look to be WITH the people around you…don’t just go through the day to day with people all around you that need what you have inside…find ways to be WITH them….be a good WITHNESS to everyone around so they can come to the freedom you have come to know.  It is not convenient, nor is it comfortable but we have been saved so we might have relationship with Jesus and so we might also share that relationship with others..

As a priest you are called to “stand beside” people to be the one who stands in the gap until they come to know the love you have come to know