“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people. Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow.” – James 4:8-9
I don’t think that people ever really consider that Jesus had a physical family – that although He was still God, He was human. He had a mother and a father while on earth, and they loved Him just as any parent loves their children, if not even more. What’s really hard to think about is that His family lost their loved one because of my sin and your sin that was paid for at Calvary. Jesus died not long after His ministry began, and, like with any death, His family grieved the physical loss of Jesus. They knew Jesus well before He publicly began His ministry. And they understood Him and His mission far better than outsiders could. So today, as I consider the humanity of Jesus, I mourn for Joseph, I mourn for Mary, I mourn for Jesus, and I mourn for His family.
Being in the form of a human, Jesus was subject to the laws of nature just as we are. The Bible tells us that He grew in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and with people (Luke 2:52). Jesus grew, and his father Joseph and mother Mary had to have had a hand in the great man that He grew to be (1 Timothy 2:5-6). They raised Him. I’m sure that the integrity, the strength of character, and the courage of Jesus to face the cross was a direct reflection of the kind of man that Joseph was as His father.
It was Joseph who followed the commands of the Lord to take Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:18-21). He was a man of honor (v. 19). When Caesar Augustus made a decree for all people in each town to be registered, Joseph carried out his duty as a citizen of the country (Luke 2:1-5). He protected Jesus and Mary (Matthew 2:13-15). He provided for his family as a carpenter and taught Jesus the trade (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:13). He and Mary dedicated Jesus back to the Father (Luke 2:22-23). He was a good man. I am sure that Jesus loved him dearly.
And Mary was chosen by God to bear the Savior of the world. Her cousin Elizabeth said it best when she exclaimed, “You are the most blessed of women, and your child will be blessed” (Luke 1:42). She had to have had an incredible faith in God and a strength like none other. I admire her. Jesus came from an all-around respectable, respectful, lovable, and loving family.
Much is not mentioned of Joseph in Scripture after a certain point, so it is likely that he passed away. Evidence to that point is given when Jesus made provisions for His mother by way of His disciple John as they both stood at the foot of the cross of Jesus. If her husband had still been alive, Jesus would not have had to have done that, and Mary would not have gone to live with John as his mother (John 19:25-27).
Just from a physical standpoint, that had to be devastating for Mary. I know that her heart had to have broken remembering all the things that she held dear (Luke 2:51), and my heart breaks for her and all that she endured as the mother of Jesus.
His mother and father knew what kind of a person Jesus was; they also knew that He was the Savior of the world. So “when they heard what people were saying about Him, they were amazed” (Luke 2:33). They cared deeply for Jesus, sought out His best interests, and only wanted the best for Him (Mark 3:20-21). So, when Jesus died, although Mary knew His purpose – what He had set in His heart to do for the ones that He loved – it hurt. It already hurts to think about how Jesus had to suffer for my sins and your sins (Romans 5:7-8). But to think about the pain, the agony, the frustration, and all the undue stress that Mary and her family surely experienced during Jesus’ day, and if only for 3 days or for 50 at Pentecost, brings me to tears.
While I am so thankful that Jesus didn’t stay dead – that He rose to newness of life so that Mary, His earthly family, and you and me can have an eternal home with Him (Acts 1:14, 4-14) – it is sobering and humbling to think about the humanity of Jesus and how that the sins of the world cost a family their Beloved member. I think we should be considerate of Jesus’ humanity more often; it brings you right back to the cross and the saving love of our Lord. I don’t hold to the Catholic false doctrines of divinity of Mary, but I would love to have a conversation with Mary (not pray; the Bible does not teach that we should pray to Mary but to God). What I would say to her would probably go something like this:
Dear Ms. Mary,
Thank you for being the kind, sweet, and loving woman that you are – the kind of woman who raised our Sweet, Dear Jesus to be the man that He came to be. You bore my Savior, you wiped His tears as a child, and you stood at the foot of the cross. You endured so much loss, so much hurt, so much pain. The strength that you exhibit is the kind that I hope to someday have. I realize that you would not have lost your son had it not been for me – really the whole world. I recognize, completely, that it should have been me at Calvary. It really should have been me. Jesus didn’t do anything wrong. All He did was love and give Himself in my place.
And to think of how they treated my Savior and how you had to stand there and watch and hear all the vile and hateful things that they did and spewed against such a great man while He suffered…it should have been me at Calvary.
I’m so sorry for the part I played in His crucifixion. I’m so sorry that He died – that you lost your son after you were widowed. If I could give my life over and over and over again a million times so that He wouldn’t have to suffer, I would. I wish that I could. It should’ve been me. I’m sorry for how He was mistreated on account of me. I’m sorry for your grief, for your pain, and for your loss. I didn’t deserve His goodness, His kindness, or His sacrifice. But He loved me. He knew my heart, and He sacrificed it all for me to have a home in heaven with Him. And I am so, very, eternally grateful. Not a day goes by without me remembering my Savior. I love Him so much. With whatever lies within my power to do, I will lift His name on the earth..
Thank you for sharing your son with me – with the world. There’s not another like Him. I long to see His face in glory, just across that evergreen shore. He loved you and Joseph dearly. And because He cared for you, I care for you. I care for you, also, because of the good-hearted, kind-natured, and God-fearing people that you had to have been. Sweet mother of my Dear Jesus, I’m so sorry, and I love you.
“Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted.” -Matthew 5:4