Among the final words of Jesus, spoken from the place of unimaginable suffering on the cross, is this compassionate announcement: To His mother, Mary, “Here is your son.” To the disciple John, “Here is your mother.”
Even in His suffering, the focus of Jesus was on those he loved.
How deep is your faith that you are among those Jesus loves with exactly this kind of focused and unconditional love? How certain are you that nothing, not even suffering and death, can separate you from this love of God? I believe that God can no more stop loving you and me than God can cease Being.
God is Just Love. Love transcends time and space and circumstance. No separation from Love ever exists. Yes, of course, sometimes it feels like God’s love has lost. But that feeling is never, not ever, the truth. Love is the essence of the eternal relationships of Father, Son and Spirit, and that is exactly where we dwell, where we live and move and have our being.
From the cross Jesus focuses his attention on Mary and John. Jesus sees below him, suffering with Him, those who He loves, has loved and will love into eternity.
Friends, did you catch the phrase? “suffering with Him.” Where in the Bible does it say that Mary and John, and others at the foot of the cross, were suffering the pain of Jesus? Were Mary and John indeed feeling His anguish—not their own pain—rather, the pain of Jesus? ?
Preachers, and other interpreters of scripture, have various ways of deciding how they will understand a text. One of those ways is called revelation. Sometimes, as I am writing, a message seems to flow without conscious thought. Ideas pop into being and then, through the means of fingers and keyboard, end up on the computer screen. Only later, during a second or third draft, do I evaluate what has been written.
That is exactly how the words “suffering with Him” ended up in this meditation. But, later I had to ask, “Is that true? Were those beloved of Christ at the foot of the Cross feeling the pain of Jesus? How could I know?
For a couple of days, I held on to that question. Then, from a source I never look to for insight and inspiration, my phone sent me a “Word for the Day.” That word was “Compathy. What does “compathy” mean? This was the answer from my dictionary app; ”Feelings, as happiness or grief, shared with another.” The definition came with a story.
The word “compathy” was invented in the 20th century by a research psychologist who needed a term to describe the capacity of some people who responded to the suffering of others with much more than sympathy or empathy. These individuals did not just observe and care about another persons suffering—they felt it! Compathy is “feeling with” another person, feeling their joy or their pain.
Did the sudden appearance of the word, “Compathy,” on my iphone confirm what I believed about the capacity of John and Mary to feel the pain of Jesus? Certainly, of course, yes! That is exactly how I took this unexpected event. I experienced it as a God event, an answer to my question, to my prayer.
I believe that the beloved of Jesus, kneeling at the foot of the cross, felt His sorrow and His abandonment and pain. I also believe that we, on Good Friday or any day, may help Jesus, or anyone else who is suffering, to carry their pain. This is, simply said, one of the capacities of love.
As Jesus did on the cross, as Mary and John did at the foot of the cross, being in Christ means that we can carry one another’s burdens and sorrows. So be it.