Exaltation of the Holy Cross, John 19:6-11, 13-20, 25-28, 30.

The Gospel reading for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, John 19:6-11, 13-20, 25-28, 30,  recalls the crucifixion of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. Most biblical scholars agree that chapter 19 of John’s Gospel ironically indicates that even when men are pushing their own agendas to accomplish something they desire, they are in fact fulfilling God’s Will without realizing it. In this case, the Jews wanted Jesus to die according to the Law because He made Himself the Son of God but they didn’t realize that His mission was precisely to die a sacrificial death because He was the Son of God. Ironically as well, Pilate in an effort to provide mockery, inadvertently actually declares Jesus to be the King of the Jews. Pilate said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” (John 19:5), and “….Shall I crucify your King!” (John 19:15). Pilate then inscribed a title to be put on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”.    The title was inscribed in the three languages of the Roman Empire: Hebrew, Latin and Greek, so all people (Jews and Gentiles alike) would know that Jesus was called “King of the Jews” by Pilate who was an official representative of the Roman Emperor.

Jesus’ followers who were at the foot of the cross were His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary Magdalene and the disciple whom He loved, John. What is different about this part of John’s Gospel as compared to the Gospels of Mark and Luke, is Jesus’ care of His mother which He entrusted to His beloved disciple, John. This is the first time the Mother of God is mentioned in Scripture since the Wedding of Cana in Chapter 2. Contrary to modern usage, the term “woman” in the ancient world and as used sacred scripture, was actually a term of dignity and affection.   Most Orthodox theologians agree that when Jesus said to John, “Behold your mother”.. And to the Virgin Mary, “Behold your son”….He not only saw to it that His mother was taken care of, but He also symbolically established the Virgin Mary’s role as the mother of all those who are the followers of Christ—the Mother of all Christians.

References:  The New Testament, Johannine Writings, Paul Tarazi, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, John and Acts, Vol 9, Merrill Tenney, Rochard Longenecker, Zondervan; The Gospel of John, Beholding the Glory, Lawrence Farley, Ancient Faith Publishing; KJV.

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