There are two errors that the Christian church has made regarding Mary, the mother of Jesus.
One, an overemphasis of her correct role in the Salvation that Jesus has brought to the whole world.
Two, an underemphasis of her value and honor as a wonderful servant of the Lord.
No mother should have to watch her son die by crucifixion. The most brutal of executions, the agony and horror of death on a cross was unbearable. It is for certain that Mary was well acquainted with the emotions of her Son. She knew when He was happy, and she could tell, even from a distance, when He was suffering intensely. Mary had been there with Jesus time and time again when He had fallen and hurt Himself. She had mended His cuts and held Him in her arms on numerous occasions when He was in pain. Jesus mother stood at the foot of the cross when her Son suffered and died. The affliction of her soul, as she agonized through the 24 hours of her Son’s arrest, beating, and crucifixion, was greater than any other person who watched Jesus die.
There were also those who stood closely by Jesus’ cross, not to watch the spectacle of His death but to be there with Him as a source of comfort. There were also other acquaintances who watched Jesus from a distance, caring for Him, but not enough to be closely identified with His suffering. Finally, there were those who watched only to see Him suffer and die, with a sense of satisfaction that this one who had called them a sinner was finally going to die.
John 19:25-26 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”
A misguided doctrine
The Catholic church has stated that because Mary suffered along with Jesus, she also participated in His efforts to bring salvation to all people; therefore, she is called a “co-redeemer” with Jesus.
Pope Leo the 8th noted in Mary’s Annunciation:
“in a sense, she stood in place of all mankind.”
Pope Leo the 8th also said this regarding Mary:
“Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother.”
Mary is further described by the leaders of the Catholic Church as:
“suffering willingly under the cross and, in a sense, (she) offered Jesus’ sacrifice to the Eternal Father.”
The Bible nowhere describes Mary as participating in the work of salvation, but calls her Blessed or happy that she was given the great honor of serving God by being His maidservant.
Luke 1:46-47 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
It has been the consistent interpretation of the Catholic leadership that this verse from Luke 1:47, where Mary refers to herself as His maidservant, means that she is “Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Our Advocate.”
Mary said that she is simply the servant of the Lord, and the purpose of her soul was to magnify the Lord. This “Lord” whom she magnifies is her Son, her God, and also her Savior. Mary acknowledged her true state before God as she rejoices because her Son is also her Savior. Mary knew herself to be a sinner, as all human beings are sinners. She was not without sin, as the Catholic traditions teach. Mary was perhaps the greatest of all servants, for she bore the Messiah in her womb, raised Him to an adult, and stood at His cross while He suffered and died for her and the whole world.
The overemphasis of Mary’s role in salvation is a grievous error of the church. There is only one God and one Savior, and to Him alone is all glory due. No human being participated in any work that resulted in the salvation of humankind. All of the work of redeeming human beings was accomplished by Jesus. He alone suffered the penalty for our sins. Mary’s precious heart was broken at watching her dear Son die, but she did not participate in the work of redemption that Jesus accomplished by Himself.
Only one Mediator—Jesus
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus…
Jesus accomplished salvation for all of us “by Himself”:
Hebrews 1:3 Jesus, who being the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…
Jesus conveyed no special title on His mother, other than as a servant to God:
Matthew 12:48-50 But Jesus answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
Those who were with Jesus
Along with Mary at the foot of Jesus’ cross was the Apostle John, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the wife of Clopas. John’s great joy in life was to be forever known as the disciple whom Jesus loved.
John 13:23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.
John’s favorite place was leaning his head upon the chest of Jesus, where he could hear the beating of his Lord’s heart. Imagine hearing the rhythm of the heart of the One who made the whole universe. John’s desire was to be as close to Jesus as possible, whether it be at dinner when the disciples sat together, or at His final hour when He was suffering and dying for the world. For this special love that John had for Jesus, he was rewarded with the great honor of writing the Book of Revelation. Though all the other disciples were brutally killed, John was immune from the evil men who sought to end his life. It is said that John was placed in a pot of boiling oil, to which no harm came to him. In the Emperor’s exasperation over being unable to kill John, he banished him to the island of Patmos where there was no food, fresh water, or a single tree. This tiny volcanic island of just six by ten miles, thirty miles southwest of the island of Samos, was a common place of exile for the worst of criminals.
Mary Magdalene received her name from the town of “Magdala,” on the shore of the sea of Galilee. Known as a place of demonic inhabitation, her life was in desolation when Jesus first saw her. Mary’s life as a prostitute had enslaved her to many demons who took control of her body and her life. Jesus cast out these demons and forgave Mary of all her sins, to which she would be forever grateful. We find this Mary at the feet of Jesus, washing the filth from the day’s journey with her tears, and drying with her hair, those precious feet that brought her the good news. The love that Mary felt for Jesus compelled her to be wherever He was, even at the foot of His cross as He suffered through His final hours.
Mary the wife of Clopas was the sister-in-law of Jesus’ mother, Mary. Her husband was Joseph’s brother. We find her in complete dedication to Jesus during the final hours of His life, also at the foot of His cross.
The prophecy of Psalms 38:11 is that: “My loved ones and my friends stand aloof (conspicuously uninvolved) from my plague, And my relatives stand afar off.”
Here, we see that although there were a few family members and close friends who stood by Jesus’ cross, they remained conspicuously uninvolved. In other words, they were there but not completely there.
What did David mean by “stand afar off?” Far off from who and from what? The object of this prophetic Psalm was the crucifixion of the Messiah. The fact that this prediction states that the family and friends of the condemned would be watching His death aloof and far off gives us a hint. Some, such as Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary the sister-in-law of Jesus’ Mother, as well as John, were close by Him at the cross. The facts revealed to us by this prophecy—describes His mother, John, and the two Mary’s, as fully incapable of understanding the suffering that Jesus endured. No one but the Father could completely understand what Jesus was suffering through as He was fully committed to the salvation of all people, when He gave His life for the sins of the world.
This 99the prophecy from Psalm 38, reveals an otherwise unknown fact of the Messiah’s suffering. No one who stood close by Him, could possible comprehend the depth of His torture. Both His body and His soul were deeply pierced by taking all our sins upon Himself. His separation from the Father at the moment He became our sins—will forever be hidden from us.
None of us can fully appreciate nor understand all that was happening while Jesus was on the cross. He was accomplishing far more than the human mind or heart could ever grasp. There was an infinite dimension to His suffering that resonated throughout eternity. Jesus, the Son of God, had become sin. This was impossible, except that it is true. When Jesus became our sin and then died, the universe and all eternity was changed forever.
The remainder of Jesus’ friends and followers were far off, watching Jesus die in apparent embarrassment for His condemnation and death, by the Romans.
The largest group of those who watched while Jesus suffered and died, hated Him with intense indignation. He had called them sinners and told them that if they did not repent they would all die eternally.
As there were three groups of people who observed Jesus’ suffering two thousand years ago, there are these same three groups today.
- Those who love Jesus and stand near to be identified with Him, but are incapable of fully understanding the depth of His suffering.
- Those who admire Him but not enough to be identified publicly with Him.
- Those who hate Him and want Him to go away and leave them alone.
We should understand by the words of this 99th Old Testament Prophecy, that there is still much work that all of us need to do in fully committing ourselves to Jesus Christ. We might think that we would be amongst those who would have stood close by Jesus as He suffered. In reality, none of us would be any closer to fully understanding what Jesus went through than those who stood nearest to Him at the cross, 2,000 years ago. We all need to take a long look at what we consider the most important priorities of our life. We should understand that our deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) will never fully allow us to properly comprehend where we truly are in our commitment to Jesus. There must be a daily renewing of our love, our service, and our commitment to the Lord—to whom we are seeking to follow.
May we stand at the cross of Jesus daily, and pray for understanding to comprehend what it was like for Him to become our sin and be separated from the Father for the first time in eternity. I pray that we would earnestly draw near the Lord and increase our knowledge of Him, while we continue to tell people about what He has done for all people.
 1. Mark Miravalle, 1993 “With Jesus”: the story of Mary Co-redemptrix ISBN 1-57918-241-0 page 11
2. Schmaus, Mariologie, München, 1955, 328
 In commenting on St. Thomas Aquinas, S. th. III 30, 1. See Ott, Dogmatics, § 7 on Mariology.
 Leo XIII, encyclical Octobri Mense 4. Ott, Dogmatics, Mariology § 7 even thinks that, in spite of uncertain evidence in the Sources of Faith, a dogmatic definition does not seem impossible.
 1. “As the Blessed Virgin Mary does not seem to participate in the public life of Jesus Christ, and then, suddenly appears at the stations of his cross, she is not there without divine intention. She suffers with her suffering and dying son, almost as if she would have died herself. For the salvation of mankind, she gave up her rights as the mother of her son.” Pope Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter Inter soldalica.
2. “and sacrificed him for the reconciliation of divine justice, as far as she was permitted to do.” Benedict XV, ibidem. – “It was she, the second Eve, who, free from all sin, original or personal, and always more intimately united with her Son, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father for all the children of Adam, sin-stained by his unhappy fall.” Pope Ven. Pius XII, encyclical Mystici Corporis.
 Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem (2007) 600], “The Life of the Evangelist John”, The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to John, House Springs, Missouri, USA: Chrysostom Press, pp. 2–3, ISBN 1-889814-09-1