Why did Jesus give Mary into the care of John?

Discussion in 'The Gospels & Acts' started by Bill The Baptist, Apr 9, 2018.

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  1. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    Of all the papist arguments presented for why Jesus is the only child of Mary (i.e. his brothers were cousins, his brothers were step brothers from Joseph’s previous marriage), most of these are not particularly convincing. One argument, however, that does seem to at least bring up a valid question is that if Mary had other sons besides Jesus, then why would he have asked John to care for her after his death? Would not his brothers be responsible for this? Just curious as to your thoughts.
     
  2. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Interesting question. John would almost certainly have been the better man for the job, but how does that release sons from their duty toward their mother?
     
  3. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I would imagine that since "His brothers did not believe in Him" (John 7:5) and the other disciples abandoned Him, John was the best choice.
     
  4. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Both scenes in John with Jesus' mother (the wedding at Cana where this 'hour' is foreshadowed, and here at the cross) seem to challenge natural relationships with their claims and redefine them around the true mission of Christ. Marianne Meye Thompson points out that this is very much in keeping with teaching in the other gospels, citing Matt 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; and Luke 8:19-21.
     
  5. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Jesus' brothers did eventually come around to faith. But I think what Heidi said makes the most sense.

    Jesus sees family in a different way than the world does. He first thinks of the family of God. And who better to take care of anyone than a person who is especially close to Jesus?

    Rather than wonder too much what the incident at the cross says about Jesus' brothers, we ought to ponder what it says about the church.
     
  6. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    Interestingly enough, the mindset of a Roman apologist never so much as enters the mind of an ancient commentator such as Cyril of Alexandria, who points out that Jesus' first concern was for the law of God. And Cyril then explains, that John, unlike others, would be able to explain to His mother the reason for the "turmoil of perplexity" that she would endure from the "sore distress" over the crucifixion of her son.

    Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch 412-444) commenting on John 19:26-27: He took thought for His mother, paying no heed to His own bitter agony, for His sufferings affected Him not. He gave her into the charge of the beloved disciple (this was John, the writer of this book), and bade him take her home, and regard her as a mother; and enjoined His own mother to regard him as none other than her true son—by his tenderness, that is, and affection, fulfilling and stepping into the place of Him,Who was her Son by nature.
    But as some misguided men have thought that Christ, when He thus spake, gave way to mere fleshly affection—away with such folly! to fall into so stupid an error is only worthy of a madman—what good purpose, then, did Christ hereby fulfil? First, we reply, that He wished to confirm the command on which the Law lays so much stress. For what saith the Mosaic ordinance? Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may he well with thee. His commandment unto us did not cease with exhorting us to perform this duty, but threatened us with the extreme penalty of the Law, if we chose to disregard it, and has put sin against our parents after the flesh on a par with sin against God. For the Law which ordered that the blasphemer should undergo the sentence of death, saying: Let him that blasphemeth the Name of the Lord, he put to death, also subjected to the same penalty the man who employs his licentious and unruly tongue against his parents: He that curseth father or mother shall surely he put to death. As, then, the Lawgiver hath ordained that we should pay such honour to our parents, surely it was right that the commandment thus proclaimed should be confirmed by the approval of the Saviour; and as the perfect form of every excellence and virtue through Him first came into the world, why should not this virtue be put on the same footing as the rest? For, surely, honour to parents is a very precious kind of virtue. And how could we learn that we ought not to lightly regard love toward them, even when we are overwhelmed by a flood of intolerable calamities, save by the example of Christ first of all, and through Him? For best of all, surely, is he who is mindful of the holy commandments, and is not diverted from the pursuit of duty in stormy and troublous times, and not in peace and quietness alone.
    Besides, also, was not the Lord, I say, right to take thought for His mother, when she had fallen on a rock of offence, and when her mind was in a turmoil of perplexity? For, as He was truly God, and looked into the motions of the heart, and knew its secrets, how could He fail to know the thoughts about His crucifixion, which were then throwing her into sore distress? Knowing, then, what was passing in her heart, He commended her to the disciple, the best of guides, who was able to explain fully and adequately the profound mystery. For wise and learned in the things of God was he who received and took her away gladly, to fulfil all the Saviour’s Will concerning her. See Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Vol. 48, John IX-XXI, trans. Thomas Randell (London: Walter Smith, 1885), Vol. 2, Book XII, Chapter xix, pp. 634-635.
     
  7. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Also of note, there were and are great reformed men who believe Mary had no other children.
     
  8. KGP

    KGP Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes. What comfort could James have given to his mother if he did not believe as her? Regardless of his contribution, it would have been mixed with sorrow for her I am certain. In John she had a kindred spirit from which to lean on in earnest. It was a gracious declaration Jesus made.


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  9. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    Which simply goes to show that even the best of men will stubbornly cling to their vain traditions. Their is simply no good reason to suppose that this would be the case, and a plain reading of scripture indicates that Mary indeed had other children. Even the Catholic Study Bible concedes that the Bible seems to indicate that Jesus indeed had siblings, but that church tradition has revealed otherwise.
     
  10. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    There are also some strong arguments against the Apostle being the ‘Beloved Disciple’.

    David, you appear to agree with Cyril on this. Can you direct me to some good resources?
     
  11. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    I do agree with Cyril's gloss on John 19:26-27. I'm not sure I understand your question as such about "good resources" - please forgive me for being slow.
     
  12. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    It's more of an aside to the main point of this thread or the quote from Cyril, but I had a question about this part:

    I am sure he did understand what was in Mary's heart and mind -- he was so wise and loving, and able to sympathise with all our human thoughts and feelings. But if he was given knowledge beyond his human capacities for empathy and insight would it not have been given through the Holy Spirit rather than his own divine omniscience? I'm sorry if I'm not phrasing this well.
     
  13. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    Some commentators hold that John was first cousin to the Lord through “His mother’s Sister.” So in that sense she was committed to the family. But it is interesting that both in John2 at the marriage in Cana, and in John19 at the cross, our Lord addresses Mary as woman not mother. It is muted that at the cross He shows that earthly relationships are no longer significant , He is her Lord and Saviour. Indeed if we think back to when Christ was talking to the people ( Math 12:47-49) He asks “who is my mother?and who are my brethren?. And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren.” The use of woman is not a disparagement but conveys His real role.
    John is the disciple whom Christ loved, which was a prophetic love, for to Him was committed the care of the future church. John wrote five books, three epistles, one gospel, and the book of Revelation. And it is Revelation that is the guide, the encourager of the Church through its struggles, sufferings, and comfortings in its pilgrimage through this vale of Bacca. And it is meaningful in opening Revelation that he identifies with the church as, “ I John, who am also your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” His is the last voice across 2000 yrs of the tribulation journey of the Church. And it is in that sense I interpret (John21:21-23), “And Peter seeing John, saith to Jesus, Lord,and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? John remains our brother and companion through all the changing scenes of life, still teaching and directing us in this barren land.
    This is why he commits her to John with whom He had this intimate prophetic relationship. As for John 2 that has another significance.
     
  14. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I don't want to take the thread off topic, but I wanted some resources behind your convictions, over against many theologians, that the 'Beloved Disciple' is the Apostle John, and that he was the one largely responsible for the writing of the Gospel, let alone the Epistles and Revelation.
     
  15. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    Sorry, I am not going to indulge in a defense of Johannine authorship.
    He knew the same way he knew in John 2:25. The incarnate Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, did not cease to be God when he became man.
     
  16. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm glad you bring this up. I recently (in the last year) have become more open to theories suggesting John was not the 'Beloved Disciple'. The matter is certainly at the foundation of the poster's question. However, it does seem the poster assumed without reservation Johannine authorship.
     
  17. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    Some matters must be left to the church to decide lest we have perpetual uncertainty. Authorship and canonicity are two such things, and as it pertains to the the authorship of John, the historic church has indeed spoken. Consider this: has all the critical scholarship of the last two centuries actually made the authorship of Scripture clearer? Or has it only made it less certain?
     
  18. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    I could place some uncommon extreme reservations to your statement but I think I would be missing your point to do so. Mostly, I am in harmony with you on this, and I do hold to the Johannine authorship of the fourth Gospel, at the same time I felt the need to connect to Ken's statement because I have found some interesting alternatives to consider. I am not suggesting this should be debated in this or any other forum, however.
     
  19. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    He didn't say.
     
  20. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Thank you. This is one of the most confusing areas of Christology to me -- whereas it makes sense to me when Jesus says he does not know the day or hour in Matthew because that is recognisably human limitation. Some versions attach 'people' after Christ knowing 'all' in v.24; and that section at the end of ch. 2 leads onto further statements in 3 about Christ being able to bear witness to heavenly things because he knew about them -- which gets carried through in John's and his disciples' witness bearing and their discussion of Christ's witness: it feels like a drumbeat that keeps emphasising witness as firsthand information. Jesus could bear witness to what was in God because He was God. Perhaps it is for the same reason he did not need anyone to bear witness about what was in humans; but it seems possible to read it the other way -- speaking of his real firsthand experience of humanity?
    I just don't understand how the Son's omniscience could be *available* to Christ's human mind and we can still speak of a fully human mind. But, except as it relates the mechanism of what Cyril is saying, it is probably not germane to this thread! And it may be one of those complicated things one never quite understands.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  21. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    Indeed, but I seriously doubt this would do much to silence RC apologists.
     
  22. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    As the oldest brother, Jesus had the duty to care for his parents. We hear nothing of Joseph, so I assume he died before this point. I believe one implication is that Jesus, before going to the Cross, was not going to leave his mother uncared for.

    This has implications for how we treat our aging parents I think. Right now my father injured himself in the States trying to haul brush and burn brushes and cut wood by himself at 75 years old. I am wondering what my duties are on the mission field if he does not recover well. It appears Jesus thought so much of our duties to elders that he paused during the process of His Grand Work and made sure his own mother was cared for. I think this is an overlooked implication for us in the West (a culture that puts their old folks in nursing homes left and right).

    Next, I think it shows his care for His mother. Jesus never disrespected His mother, and neither should we. She is an example of faith. I believe Protestants disparage Mary sometimes, but that we ought to highly regard her.

    Matthew Henry says, "He calls her woman, not mother, not out of any disrespect to her, but because mother would have been a cutting word to her who was already wounded with grief. He directs her to look upon John as her son: "Behold him as thy son, who stands there by you, and be as a mother to him."

    John 7:5 seems to tell us that Jesus' brothers did not become believers until after the resurrection. This tells us that in our own wills and the care of our families that spiritual kin is closer than physical kin.

    My question is why John was picked and not Peter, the lead apostle. I think it was due to John's nature and his relationship with Jesus.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
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  23. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    I don't think it is that complicated but assuming that this is John the Apostle and the biblical writer, John was the only apostle that didn't get martyred. Our Lord knew this was to be and committed his mother to John as she no doubt would need the protection and provision. Though I'm not dogmatic about this it is another reason to think that Jesus didn't have any first degree brothers or step brothers as he would have entrusted her care to them in that case.
     
  24. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Keep in mind, too, that John was probably younger than Jesus' half-brothers. Jesus was around 33 years old when He was crucified, and his half-brothers were probably from one or two to a few years younger than Him (in descending sibling order, of course).

    I would guess that John was probably around 15 years old at that time. I don't think I would want to make him much older than that (remembering that he possibly lived until early into the second century: AD 33 was 67 years before the turn of the next century, making John 82 in AD 100 if he was, in fact, 15 at the time).

    So, it's interesting to think that our Lord commended His mother to the care of someone who was possibly significantly younger than His own half-brothers.
     
  25. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Where did you get these numbers? I have a really hard time thinking of John as a young teenager.
     
  26. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Common sense. If John lived into the early second century, he couldn't have been much older than 15 or so at the time of the crucifixion. As I said, it's nearly 70 years from then until the end of the century - when, if John was 15 at the time, he would be in his early 80s.

    Also, in our culture now, 15 is a "young teenager." But, in that culture, 15 was, for all intents and purposes, adulthood. Girls were being married off and starting their own families at 13 or 14 in those days (Mary was probably around that age when Jesus was conceived in her and when she married Joseph shortly thereafter).
     
  27. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Why can't John have been born in AD 6 and die in AD 100?
     
  28. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    It's possible, I suppose, but not probable. As far as I know, not many people lived to be 96 in those days.
     
  29. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Maybe. Maybe not. We just don't know.
     
  30. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    Not many. Isocrates lived to be 98. Our Lord knew when all the Apostles, like everyone else, was going to croak.
     
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