The New Family
Traditionally, there are seven sentences that Jesus says on the cross. We call them “the seven last words.” Three of them are in John. One of them is about family that turns into community.
Woman, behold thy son; son behold thy mother. (John 19:26-27)
If you know about Jesus’ family, you understand the power of this statement. He isn’t married, and his siblings think he’s crazy until his resurrection. At the wedding in Cana, Jesus’ mother Mary wants Jesus to use his power on her schedule. Jesus isn’t a performer in a parlor game. He is the Son of God.
So he tells us to take a close look, to “behold.” It would have been one thing if Jesus came to earth and lived as an isolated hermit, maneuvering around with a heavenly glow. The Gospel writers, however, take time to show his humanity. One way they illustrate it is through his relationships. He is the Son of a Mother. He has to clean his room, wash his face, help around the house. He takes care of her when his father is gone.
After Joseph is off the scene, one of the last things Jesus thinks is, “Who’s going to take care of my mother?”
Jesus’ love on the cross is so great that it reconnects us with the people who love us the most, and frustrate us too. He does it by changing the nature of family relationships. On the cross, he reframes his relationship with his mother. He says, “Look at your son as he really is; this is the picture of your son.”
He connects parents to new siblings, entrusting his mother to one of his disciples. He redefines what a family is. No longer knit by biology, this kind of family is a community, held together by the cross of Christ. Jesus adopts us into himself and adapts whatever we bring so that he can make it part of his family. He connects us, or re-members us to people who love us in new ways. Like Jesus and the beloved disciple, we’ll never look at family the same.