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Tonight, with Gods help, well get back to the study we started a few weeks ago. Its called Matthew Henry on the Seven Sayings. The seven sayings, of course, refer to the things our Lord Jesus Christ said while He was on the cross. He may have said other things, but these are the only ones we have in the Bible.
Thus far, weve looked at the first two sayings: the first was spoken to God: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. The other was spoken to the penitent thief: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise. Its good to know our Lord Jesus Christ prays for sinners! And that even the worst sinner who repents will find a place in His kingdom.
Matthew Henry breaks up the third saying into three parts, the first of which is this
Theres nothing practical in what Mary does for her Son. She could not take Him off the cross or bring Him any comfort at all. Her presence, in fact, may well have added to His pain. Yet she sets all this aside to be with the Lord in His agony and death. And He notices her devotion and pays tribute to it.
Just being there for people in pain is important. The time wasted at the bedside of dying friends is not wasted! Even if theyre not conscious. The time spent with them is preciousif not to them, then it is to Jesus Christ! If the Lord had been more practical He might have told His Mary to go home and do good for the poor or read the Bible or something. But He says no such thing.
Though the sight of her Son on the cross must have sickened her, it was the right place to be. In a world without sympathy, our Lord found some in His dear mother, a beloved disciple, and a few other women. Its shocking, isnt it? A city had sung His praises just a few days before, and now, the only compassion He gets is from a man and four women.
Sympathy is never wasted. Tears may be the only comfort the dying receive in this life.
Thats the first thing Henry says about our Lords Third Saying on the Cross.
THE LORDS CARE FOR HIS MOTHER
Sympathy runs in the family, of course. The tender care Mary offers her Son is more than returned to her. Seeing His mother and John below Him, He says,
How do we understand this? I always took it to mean, Mary, look at Me, your Son, Lord and Savior. I think I got this from Arthur W. Pink (who is excellent on most things). But Matthew Henry understands it quite differently (and it makes more sense, it seems to me):
This is not the clearest thing Henry ever said, so let me try to put it into plain English: When the Lord said, Behold your son He doesnt mean Himself, but rather, He means John who was not Marys natural son, of course, but would become a son to her and take care of her for the rest of her life.
The other view is also truethat Mary, like all sinnersmust look to Christ for salvation, but its not whats being taught here. What we have here is the Lords tender compassion for His mother and the practical steps He took to care for her after His death.
In this saying, Henry sees an unselfish Lord,
When times were good for the Lord, He put others before Himself. But not only when times were good. Even in death, He stays in characterits this same Jesus! If any man ever had a right to think of himself first, it was our Lord. Yet He didnt. Even on the cross He was thinking of others.
And not just of their souls, but also of their bodies. Mary was still a comparatively young woman (probably in her mid-forties). She had to eat for the next twenty or thirty years. And the Lord remembered that! Even in the agonies of the cross, He put the concerns of other people above His own.
Henry also sees an example to carefully mark and follow:
This is a powerful rebuke to a selfish generation. A man I know (whos now with the Lord) was very much in love with a girl named Jane. They were about to be married when the mans father died, leaving his mother without means of support. Do you know what the man did? He broke off his wedding plans to care for his mother, which he did till she died many years later. The man lost the woman he loved for the sake of taking care of his mother. Was he a mamas boy? No, he wasntnot at all. In fact, at the time, he wasnt even a Christian. What he was was a responsible young man. By the way, he finally did marrythough not Janeat age 72!
Today, wed look at him as a fool! But I wonder if God looks at his choice in the same way? In any event, our Lord set an example of
An example wed do well to follow.
THE LORDS CONFIDENCE IN JOHN
After speaking to His grieving mother, the Lord turns His attention to John, who is called the disciple whom the Lord loved. To him, He said,
What does this mean? Henry says,
The Lord had brothers: James, Judas, Joses, and Simon are named in the Bible and also sisters (who arent named), but are probably married. Yet the Lord does not commit Marys care to any of them.
He wants John to do it. Why? Because He can count on him. John is not a perfect man, a sinless man, of course, but he is faithful. He swore to follow the Lord and, though he gave in to fear for a few hours, he was back. His return proved his character to the Lords satisfaction.
Henry underlines two things here:
First, we have the great honor conferred on John.
The Lord has given you something to do. And He has given you people to take care of (a wife, kids, aged parents, friends who look up to you, weaker brethren in the church, and so on). Instead of looking at these things as burdens to bear, you ought to see them as medals pinned on your chest by the Lord Jesus Christ! It is a high privilege to serve Christ and to care for anyone He loves.
Secondly, we have Johns obedience.
Taking care of Mary sounds romanticto live with the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ! But, I suspect it wasnt that way at all. Mary had to eat, of course, and that means John had to work harder to make a living for her. As she got older she needed the doctor more often and couldnt do much around the house anymore. She was not sinless and so maybe she bickered with Johns wife or horned in on the kids. I suspect living with Mary is a lot like living with anyone else! With all the joys and aggravations of life under the same roof.
But John did this work cheerfully, Henry says. We ought to care for the Lords people with the same willingness. Will they be a lot of bother? Sure they willeveryone is! But with the bother goes the blessing. Surely if Jesus Christ bothered with us, we ought to bother with each other.
Matthew Henryit seems to mehas taken us all over the map on this Saying. But the main lessons need learning, again and again. They are:
1. When you can do nothing for others, just sit with them. Being there is doing something for them.
2. Youre to put others firsteven when things arent going well for you.
3. Material things matter to God.
4. It is a high privilege to serve the Lord by serving His people.
5. You ought to serve others eagerly, for God loves a cheerful giver.
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