an excerpt from A Mary Like Me
…But I’m sure Mary never felt such doubt and confusion and pain as she experienced standing at the foot of the cross.
I can’t imagine the fear that gripped her heart as she watched her baby boy endure crucifixion. She must have been very brave or incredibly faithful. Perhaps she held on to hope that God would intervene and empower Jesus to powerfully jump down from that instrument of death. Perhaps she envisioned Jesus leading an army of angels to take the Roman government by force, thereby ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven. But then, perhaps she had lost all hope of such victory, and it was just her mother’s heart that wouldn’t allow her to be absent that day.
I can imagine watching her, standing there, almost unable to breathe. If I were her, my mind would’ve been reliving the history of my life with my son. Perhaps she stood questioning all that Gabriel had said; if so, she might have thought the same thoughts we have when situations don’t make sense. Perhaps she could hear running through her mind the words she’d learned as a small Jewish daughter: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,” declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8).
I can hear her crying out, “Oh God, I don’t understand! Let me take His place! Why is this happening?”
May I indulge my imagination a moment to envision what Mary N. could’ve been thinking?
I’m sure her mind was flooded with memories of the past. Perhaps as she watched Jesus, the Savior of the Jews and of all mankind die, she realized with each memory that nothing of Jesus’ life was what she had expected it would be.
His birth should’ve been her first clue that His life would not be as she dreamed—that cold, painful, lowly birth. She probably had never expected to give birth to any of her children away from family, out in the open, under the sky… much less the Son of God. She had to lay the Christ-child in a watering trough filled with hay. She knew at that moment she and Joseph had nothing to give Jesus—nothing but their love. And so as she stood beneath her dying son, she again found herself helpless and unable to give Him anything but her presence.
With the memory of His birth, her heart was flooded with the images of the angels and the shepherds gathering around their small family and giving praise to God. Would they come this time? Would they come to proclaim her son the King and remove Him from this splintered cross? Maybe, just as hope appeared in her soul, Jesus cried out in pain and her hopes would be crushed. Would He ever fulfill the prophecies of Gabriel? He was dying. Hope seemed lost forever.
“Oh Adonai, my heart hurts so! It is like a knife is cutting it!”
As Mary endured the pain of her broken heart, I’m sure she remembered the haunting words from Simeon, a man who held the baby Jesus in his arms on the day of His circumcision. Do you remember Simeon’s prophecy to Mary? “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35).
Mary’s heart was pierced.
Would you have been able to stand there?
Much grace and peace,