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“The Characters of Lent: Virgin Mary”
John 19:25-27

Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Lent Service IV—March 18, 2009

There are so many ironic coincidences between the beginning and ending of Jesus’ life.  It was Herod the Great who tried to kill the baby Jesus, and his son, Herod Antipas, who questioned the prisoner Jesus.  The Wise Men had asked, “Where is he that has been born king of the Jews?,” and the sign posted above Jesus on the cross read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”  The Wise Men presented the child Jesus with myrrh, and when he was crucified, Jesus was offered, but rejected, wine mixed with myrrh to dull the pain, and with myrrh his body was prepared for burial.

Did Mary think of these things and ponder them in her heart as she watched her son, Jesus, being crucified?  Did she remember the words Simeon had spoken in the temple when Jesus was just a few weeks old, proclaiming him to be the promised Messiah and then ominously telling Mary: “And a sword will pierce your own soul also”?  The sword Simeon prophesied was the pain and anguish Mary endured as she watched her son die on the cross.

The crowd around the cross was insulting and taunting Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, save yourself!  Come down now from the cross and we will believe in you!”  In this angry mob Jesus sees two friendly, familiar faces: his dear mother, Mary, and his closest friend, the apostle John.  It seems Mary is a widow, and, as her oldest son, it is Jesus’ responsibility to take care of her.  Even in the midst of all his horrible pain and agony on the cross, Jesus shows his love for his mother by commending her to the care of John, as John reports in his own Gospel: “[Jesus] said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is you son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’  From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

Paul says in Ephesians, “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God.”  On the cross Jesus showed his deep love for his mother by committing her to the care of John.  And on the cross Jesus also showed his deep love for you, by giving himself up for to pay for all your sins.

That is the lesson of the Lenten story of the Virgin Mary.  Amen.

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