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Reading Classics Together - The Seven Sayings (Chapter 3)

This morning those of us who are reading some Christian classics together are going to be looking at the third chapter of A.W. Pink’s The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross. You can read more about this effort here: Reading the Classics Together. This week we move on to the book’s third chapter.

Summary

Jesus’ third saying on the cross is the word of affection. While hanging in agony he looked down to his mother and to his dear friend John. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”

The chapter follows this outline:

  1. Here we see the fulfillment of Simeon’s prophecy.
  2. Here we see the perfect man setting an example for children to honor their parents.
  3. Here we see that John had returned to the Saviour’s side.
  4. Here we discover an illustration of Christ’s prudence.
  5. Here we see that spiritual relationships must not ignore the responsibilities of nature.
  6. Here we see a universal need exemplified.
  7. Here we see the marvelous blending of Christ’s perfections.

Discussion

I felt that in this chapter Pink did a really good job of drawing out some of the implications of Jesus’ words to his mother and his friend. This chapter may not have been quite as meaty as some of the ones that have come before (and some of the ones to come) but there was still plenty there to chew on. There were two areas that really spoke to me.

The first of these was that this word to John was an example to any of us as we consider how we relate to our parents. “It is too often assumed,” says Pink, that the “fifth commandment is addressed to young folks only. Nothing can be further from the truth.” Just yesterday I was speaking to a friend about responsibility to parents and this chapter seems to tie in well. In our culture we value autonomy and feel that our parents should be able to support themselves indefinitely. This seems to be uniquely western since in most other cultures, and certainly in biblical culture, it is assumed that the parents would support the children and, when they were older, the parents would receive support from the children. Pink disagrees with this way of thinking. “In the course of time, the children grow to manhood and womanhood, which is the age of full personal responsibility, the age when they are no longer beneath the control of their parents, yet has not their obligations to them ceased. They owe their parents a debt that they can never fully discharge.” Children are to continue to esteem their parents and to care for them in whatever way is necessary. I believe those who adhere to other faiths tend to see this as more of a responsibility and put Christians to shame in this area. When we learn from Jesus’ example we see the unique responsibility to care for elderly parents.

Does this example of Christ on the cross put you to shame? It may be you are young and vigorous, and your parents gray-headed and infirm; but saith the Holy Spirit, “Despise not thy mother when she is old” ( Proverbs 23:22). It may be you are rich, and they are poor; then fail not to make provision for them. It may be they live in a distant state or land, then neglect not to write them words of appreciation and cheer which shall brighten their closing days. These are sacred duties. “Honour thy father, and thy mother.”

The second portion that jumped out to me was the one that discussed John’s return to the Saviour’s side. It is easy to forget, as we read these words, that John had earlier fled from Jesus. At some point he had migrated back to Jesus’ side and stood there before the Lord. But Jesus did not rebuke him. Jesus did not hold this against him. He did not say a word about it. Instead he bestowed upon John a great honor and responsibility. Though he had been scandalized by Christ and ashamed to be seen with Him, John returned and Jesus forgave. What an encouragement this is to those who have wandered away from God in their hearts. “Christ did not rebuke John on returning; instead, his wondrous grace bestowed on him an unspeakable privilege. Cease then your wanderings and return at once to Christ, and he will greet you with a word of welcome and cheer; and who knows but what he has some honorous commission awaiting you!” God is far more willing to forgive sin than we are to commit it. What a great God He is.

Next Time

We will continue next Thursday with the fourth chapter of the book and look at Jesus’ word of anguish.

Your Turn

I am eager to know what you gained from this chapter. Feel free to post comments below or to write about this on your own blog (and then post a comment linking us to your thoughts). Do not feel that you can only say anything if you are going to say something that will wow us all. Just add a comment with some of the things you gained from the this week’s reading.