It's the middle of the night, I've long ago learned not to pray to go back to sleep, but to seek the face of Jesus in the quiet of the night. With Good Friday only a week away, that's where my mind drifted...to the foot of the cross.
While Jesus hung here in the most horrific pain and humiliation imaginable, I probably would have been hiding out at home with a pillow over my head, so I couldn't hear the hammer hit the nails and praying "God save him!" The images on the movie/TV screens and in books are more than I can bare. Yet, the women who loved him most were there to be with him in his suffering.
How could Jesus's grieving mother, Mary of Nazareth, most likely a widow by this time, have stood this torment. Years ago, we watched one of our sons struggle for his life following a devastating car accident. While death tried to grab him for days, it was nothing compared to the public humiliation and false accusations which caused Jesus to be stripped, whipped, beaten, and hung on a cross. Right now a tear drips down my cheek as I think of Christ's mother.
Salome, whose name means "peaceful," had known Jesus before His public ministry began. Makes me think back to the many friends of our children who sat at my kitchen counter sharing a meal with our boys. Her sons, John and James, became disciples. She gave up her life as the wife of a well to do fisherman to follow Jesus and invest in his ministry physically and financially. Being seen publicly at the cross had consequences for her and her sons. She took the risk and stood by Him.
Mary Magdalene's presence doesn't surprise me. This woman adored Jesus! He had cast seven demons out of her and she was sold out for this man who brought her salvation and gave her newness of life. Her devotion was present at the cross, but also at the tomb. She was the first to arrive at the open tomb on that great Resurrection morning.
These women didn't run away and hide. They stood by their man.
The past two weeks I've prayed fervently with a large group of people for a thirteen year old, whose name is Josh. Josh just had a brain tumor removed and his mother has stayed by his side. Another acquaintance will not leave her home, because her husband is terminally ill. While two others who are dear to me have stood by their men in painful legal battles where false accusations have been hurled at them in courtrooms.
Who is God calling us to suffer alongside?
Are we willing to be uncomfortable?
Are we willing to make a sacrifice?
Jesus gave up incredible comforts when he left heaven and came to earth.
Jesus suffered great physical pain and emotional pain as he sacrificed His life for our sinfulness.
Jesus is walking alongside us today in every situation we face.
Here's a happy thought. Those gals of the Old Testament were sold out to the end and they received the greatest reward...being first to see the empty tomb! Interestingly, they were going there in suffering service again to anoint Jesus' body. When they got there it was quite the surprise party!
Stand up, stand up for Jesus!