Jesus’ Sacrificial Love: A Reflection on His Final Moments on the Cross

Jesus sacrifice on the cross

The scene

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

John 19:25-27

As the soldiers gambled over Jesus’ clothes, the scene had to look like defeat to Mary and His followers. In John 19:25-27, Jesus gives them a powerful demonstration of His sacrificial love on the cross.

Four women and the Apostle John overcame their fears and stood at the cross:

  • Mary, Jesus’ mother: Simeon warned her about this moment in Luke 2:34–35.
  • Mary’s sister is there. Matthew and Mark suggest that this is Salome, the mother of John and James. Mark says she brings spices to anoint Jesus’ body.
  • Mary, the wife of Clopas was there. We don’t know much about her, but she went with His mother to the tomb.
  • Mary Magdalene: Luke says she had seven demons that Jesus cast out. We don’t read much about her until the resurrection.

Jesus’ compassion

They were standing close enough to hear Jesus. If people were able to get close enough to read the sign Pilate had placed above His head, they could get close enough to hear Him. Jesus couldn’t commit Mary into the care of his half-brothers, because they didn’t become believers until after the resurrection. So, He commits her into the care of John. The language that Jesus uses “Woman, here is your son.” “Here is your mother.” Is language similar to what was used in adoption at the time. They are now family.

He does this as He is hanging on the cross. Crucifixion began with the Persians, but the Romans perfected it as a slow, agonizing torture. They could keep people alive for days in absolute agony, half suffocating until their bodies finally gave out and couldn’t lift themselves to breathe anymore.

Thinking of those He loves

Jesus is in his most distressing moment. He’s in agony. The skin has been peeled from his back in the beating. He has a crown of thorns digging into his head. He’s exhausted. He’s nailed to the cross and hanging. To breathe, much less speak, he has to push himself up with his feet, which have a nail through the ankles. His raw, open back would scrape on the wood. And he pushes himself up in pain to tell his widowed mother she’s not alone. He wanted to make sure she knew that. She was going to be okay.

In the middle of his greatest sacrifice and excruciating pain, Jesus is thinking of those He loves. He’s making sure they’re taken care of. That’s the Savior’s love and compassion. That’s the security and strength of the Savior. Jesus provides for us through his sacrificial love on the cross. The world doesn’t have that, but they desperately need it. They’re searching for it.

In our doubt

Jesus knew that James and his half-brothers were going to become believers. Here’s the thing: Mary didn’t know it. Jesus made sure she knew she was going to be okay. He loves us the same way. Specifically, His Word ensures us that if we’re connected to the vine, we’re going to be okay, no matter what happens here, because this world isn’t all there is.

When Pastor Tony Evans’ wife, Lois Evans, passed away, his son Jonathan gave the eulogy and it went viral. If you haven’t seen it, look it up and watch it. This is part of what he said:

“I was wrestling with God the last few days because this was a great opportunity that we can tangibly see Your glory. Everybody was praying, not only in Dallas, but around the country and around the world. People were watching. Where are You? This was an opportunity to see Your glory.”

“And as I was wrestling with God, He answered. And He said, ‘Number 1, You don’t understand the nature of My victory. Just because I didn’t answer your prayer your way doesn’t mean that I haven’t already answered your prayer anyway.’”

“‘Because victory was already given to your mom. You don’t understand because of the victory that I have given you.There were always only two answers to your prayers—either she was going to be healed or she was going to be healed.’”

“‘Either she was going to live or she was going to live. Either she was going to be with family or she was going to be with family.’”

“‘Either she was going to be well taken care of or she was going to be well taken care of. Victory belongs to Me because of what I’ve already done for you.’”

Victory belongs to Jesus

“‘The two answers to your prayer are yes and yes. Because victory belongs to Jesus.’”

Isn’t that powerful? The situation at the cross had to look like defeat to Mary and the rest of Jesus’ followers. They had to be wrestling with God with their questions, doubts, and fears. Jesus takes the time as He bears the sin of mankind in agonizing pain to tell Mary she’s going to be okay. Jesus demonstrates His sacrificial love on the cross caring for His people in every detail.