“And there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister…” John 19:25
I, who was blessed to have three older sisters, am ashamed to say that these words in John nineteen never before caught my attention, and now it is only because someone near to me pointed them out. Perhaps God knew I would not fully appreciate their poignancy until I had lived long enough to appreciate the treasure I had, and have, in my own sisters. The Apostle John need not have pointed out that one of the women who was with Jesus’ mother at the Cross was her sister; but since he was the only disciple nearby, and the only one to whom Jesus spoke, his account of the Crucifixion is the most revealing, to my way of thinking. Then, too, from this day forward, his life and Mary’s would be intimately entwined until the death of one of them (vv. 26-27). Let me tell you two things that endear this lady, the earthly aunt of Jesus, to my own heart.
First, the bond between the sisters that this scene portrays was not severed by the attention—good and bad—that Mary lived with through her life. I tend to think she was an older sister, because Mary was so young when God chose her to be the vehicle for the human birth of His Son into the world. Theoretically, every young Jewish woman from the time the Holy Birth was prophesied, longed to be chosen for this high calling; and an older sister could easily have begrudged her younger sister this privilege, in much the same way the brothers of David harbored ill-will toward him because he was singled out. Yet, seemingly, being overlooked in favor of her sister did not faze this woman. Nor did the slurs and ridicule that Mary surely had to endure for many years (Matt. 1:19; Jno. 8:41) cause her to shy away from her sister’s company. If she was there in the end, it stands to reason, she stood with her in the intervening years.
Then, consider this. The scene at the Cross that day was horrifying, yet this woman stood next to her sister as she watched the Son she loved with all her heart, until every drop of blood was drained from His body. Surely, not even love for her sister would have kept her there those six agonizing hours. There were only three kinds of people there the day that Jesus died: those who helped to kill Him, those who hated Him, and those who loved Him. I have no doubt, she was in the last group. From this day on, these two women were not only blood sisters; they were Blood sisters. And I may only be speculating, but I believe that one of the “women” with Mary, who were with the disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, was Mary’s sister, the one at the Cross with her (Acts 1:14).
The camaraderie of brothers is at least matched by the communion of sisters. By their very nature (generally speaking), women love to bond; and when the bond is one of family, as well, we find it even sweeter. Ah, but deeper still is the attachment that combines not only these, but the added dimension of the Spiritual bond in the Body of Christ. A sister with whom we can share not only love of family but also love of Christ, is a gift from God that should never be taken for granted. Mary had such a sister, and so do I. In fact, I have two (one is in heaven). We can laugh, cry…and pray together. Like Mary and her sister, we meet at the foot of the Cross and stand together against those who hate our Lord. The bond we share will follow us to the gates of heaven, when all four “Hopkins girls” will be together once again in Glory!