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They took him away Wednesday night. John told me that at dinner, He had said He would be betrayed. All were shocked. Along with others, John asked “Lord, is it I?” They could not imagine turning on their beloved Rabbi, with whom they had lived, walked, eaten, and learned from over the past three years.

And yet, the human heart is weak. These twelve had seen Him perform miracle after miracle, from turning water into wine, to raising a weeping woman’s son from his burial bier. Yet they knew their hearts could deceive them.

Later, in the Garden, Jesus and eleven men walked and talked until they saw torches headed toward them. Torches held by Temple leaders, followed by a crowd. And there, among them, was Judas.

Judas, one of their own.

Judas, who ate at my table.

The one who kept the purse for the group, dispensing coins for food or other needs.

The disciples gasped as Judas walked forward and kissed Jesus on the cheek, identifying Him as the one the Chief Priests sought, before the Temple guards took Him away.


The next morning, I rushed to the Palace where the Chief Priests had taken Jesus for sentencing. It was evident that during the night, He was tortured, a jagged crown of thorns pressing into his skull, causing rivulets of blood to run down his face, which wore the deep red of dried blood, the ashen of suffering. He had been beaten, kicked, mocked. The clean white tunic he put on yesterday was in tatters, covered with a mixture of blood, dirt, and sweat. Through its shreds I could see the bloodied scourge of the whip, the angry red welts, the torn and swollen skin, and I shuddered. I could smell the iron of His blood, the sweat of His captors, the fear on the faces of many.

Oh, my heart cried out. My son, my son! My child, whom I nursed at the breast thirty-three years ago. I felt the cut of that thorny crown, the agony of those whips on my own body, but could look at no one but Him.

Photo by Brian Esiobu on Pexels


I remembered the words of the angel Gabriel before Jesus was born. He told me the Holy Spirit would overshadow me and I would conceive and bear a son, Jesus.

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end…. (he) will be called ‘holy–the Son of God.’” These words, from an angel of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, have never left my heart.

When He was but eight days old, Joseph and I presented Jesus at the Temple. Simeon, that dear, wrinkled old man took Jesus into his arms and said he had now seen the salvation of the Lord and could die in peace. He also told me a sword would pierce my soul. Ah, how I felt it now!

This was my son, but He was also God’s Son. How could God’s promise through the angel come to pass if Jesus was killed?


And yet, so many times God had spared us from death.

An angel told the kings from the East not to return home by way of Jerusalem, where Herod would ask where the child was.

An angel told us when to leave Bethlehem for Egypt because Herod was on a rampage.

In his anger and fear, Herod killed all the male babies under two years old in Bethlehem, trying to rid the earth of this new King.

At the age of twelve years, our son remained behind in the Temple, talking with the priests and elders with great wisdom.

And other times. The time the people tried to push Him off a cliff and He simply walked back through the crowd safely.

The Father had watched over His Son all these years. What was He doing now?


I feared the burden would crush me. The hands of several—Mary Magdalene, John—held my elbows to steady me. And when the crowd began shouting “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”, I simply raised my hands to heaven in supplication. These were the same people who had greeted Jesus five days earlier, calling Him blessed, Messiah, shouting hallelujahs. How could their hearts turn against Him so quickly?

“Father, this is the Son you gave me through the Holy Spirit.” I wailed, feeling as if my heart, my body, were about to break in two with grief. “Jesus is Your Son too. How can I bear it?”

And I seemed to hear a quiet voice whisper, “I am with you, to the end of the age.”

Though stooped with pain, Jesus’ presence was still compelling. When Pilate asked if he was King of the Jews, Jesus responded with “You have said it.” Most of the time the child of my heart kept silent.

The Cross offers New Life

The Romans placed a rough-hewn wooden cross on Jesus’ battered body.  He staggered under its weight and grimaced at the pain of it pressing on his already-severe wounds. I tried to get through the crowd to help him carry the cross, but was pushed back at every attempt.

Then Jesus fell to the ground. I felt my heart thud with the weight of the cross as it bounced on the earth, and my hands flew to my mouth to cover my scream.

The soldiers looked around and, seeing a Cyrenian who looked big and strong, told him to take up the cross and carry it. I don’t know if this man even knew who Jesus was, or why He was to be crucified. But the big man leaned over, picked up the cross and carried it to the place of crucifixion as Jesus limped alongside Him.

Did they speak during that time? Was the Cyrenian angry that he was pulled into this task? Did he hear truth from Jesus’ lips to cause him to believe? I don’t know.

My face was wet from my falling tears. I could hardly see through the film over my eyes. My sobs, my cries of agony were covered by the sound of the crowd, jeering, laughing, taunting my Son as He walked to His place of death.

Then the Cyrenian laid the cross between two others. The soldiers told Jesus to lie down on it, arms outstretched. I couldn’t watch. I hid my face in Mary Magdalene’s chest as they struck hammer blows to the rusty nails that drove through his hands and feet, crushing his bones. I felt as though each of those blows struck me too.

The soldiers raised the cross and dropped it unceremoniously into a hole in the ground, jarring Jesus’ body. He moaned.

His Robe

I had woven a beautiful, seamless robe for Him, knowing Jesus needed shelter from cold and winds as He traveled about, healing the sick, freeing the downtrodden, bringing salvation to all who would believe. The soldiers recognized its quality and, since it was seamless, decided to gamble for it rather than cut it into pieces. There they sat, on the ground, callous as three men began to die the worst of Roman deaths next to them. The soldiers threw dice to see who would get the robe.

I wanted to slap their faces, to tell them how cold they were, that it was my Son who hung there. But all of us who loved Him were afraid. We knew Rome was too big to fight.

My agony increased as Jesus worked harder to breathe, hanging from hands and feet. It became more and more difficult to pull Himself up to take air into His lungs.

The Price was Paid for New Life

And my Son, the one who came to deliver the world from sin, agonized on that cross. Was this the price required to remove the penalty of sin? This ugly, horrific scene a picture of how awful our refusal to follow Him is to a holy God, who cannot look on sin? And now the rebellion of the world was on my Son’s shoulders, in every drop of blood that fell, in every stroke of the lash, every agonized breath He took.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His voice was raspy, but clear.

He turned to look at me, and His bloodshot eyes met mine. I saw such love, such sorrow, such compassion in His face.

“Woman, behold your son,” He said as he nodded with difficulty toward his disciple John. He then turned to John.

“John, behold your mother.” John agreed.

Even in His agony, Jesus cared for me, His mother. I held his feet, trying to help Him push up to breathe.

Forgiveness and New Life

A thief was crucified on either side of Jesus. One jeered and mocked with the crowd. “He can’t save Himself. Come down from the cross and we’ll believe you!”

But the other spoke up. “We die for what we have done. This man is innocent.” Then he turned to Jesus. “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus spoke. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Even there, the one who recognized Jesus as King received forgiveness and eternal life through the One dying beside Him.

Then Jesus spoke again.

“I thirst.”

A soldier dipped a sponge into sour wine and held it to Jesus’ lips.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

He raised his voice and called out “It is finished.”

His head fell to his chest, and He died.

The Torn Veil Brought New Life

Suddenly there was a great earthquake that scattered most of the people on Golgotha. We heard the veil of the Temple, the most holy place, as it tore in two, shattering the gulf between God and man.

I thought my heart would break like the veil had torn. How would God use this awful death? Was this an end unforeseen by the Father? Or was it all part of His plan to redeem us, to reconcile us to Himself?

After Jesus died, the centurion in charge of the crucifixion knelt at the cross and looked up. “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

We Felt Lost

I went with Joseph of Arimathea, who had asked to bury Jesus in the new-hewn tomb he had built for himself and his family. Now he offered it to Jesus. I kissed my Son’s beloved face. Then Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas, and I cleaned His body, partly with our tears. We prepared Him for burial with loving hands, putting a facecloth on Him and wrapping Him in clean linen and the myrrh and aloes Nicodemus brought.

After we finished, the soldiers rolled a giant boulder and posted a guard in front of the tomb. What were they afraid of?

That night Jesus’ followers met together to grieve, to talk of our hopes and fears, to wonder what Yeshua would bring to pass from this unspeakable loss. We were afraid of the Jewish religious leaders who had killed our Lord and Master.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I kept praying, “Father, Thy will be done. Oh Lord, my heart aches for this beloved Son whom you put into my caregiving for a time. Be with Your Son, even now in death. Thy will be done.”

Two days later, in the early morning, Mary Magdalene, Salome and I went back to the Tomb. The Sunday morning sky was bright. It seemed surreal. Jesus was dead. The sun shone. How could both be true? And how could we anoint His body with that stone in front of the Tomb?

The Stone was Rolled Away

But when we reached the place, we saw that the stone was rolled away! Our hearts dropped. Had the soldiers moved Jesus’ body? We entered the Tomb.

A beautiful man in white, light shining all about him, asked “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen, just as He said.”

My breath caught in my throat. Jesus. Alive again! Just as He promised. All the miracles we had seen Jesus do were simply a precursor to this greatest of miracles, the resurrection! But at that moment I couldn’t even process all this.

black cross on top of mountain

Photo by Jonathan Borba on

Joy in a New Life

I simply rejoiced. With the others, I ran out of the Tomb, trembling and astonished. Once again, God had proven true. The prophets, including Isaiah, had spoken of a Messiah who would die to redeem His people. Somehow they understood this pain and agony must be the final offering, the last sacrifice, for those who would trust in Him. Isaiah said

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities….He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

As I reflect, I think that must be what Jesus meant when He said “It is finished.” Not that His death was finished; but that the penalty for our sin was paid in full there at the Cross.

I wanted to dance, to sing, to jump up and down with the joy that threatened to explode inside me. I couldn’t wait to tell the disciples and the others.

The Cross was empty.

The Tomb was empty.

Joy flooded my soul as I ran down the path of Golgotha’s hill. Jesus was alive. We would see Him again!


  1. Laura Bennet says:

    Lovely perspective told beautifully. I can’t imagine how Mary managed to keep it together. This past week before Easter, my oldest son had a severe asthma attack and was on life support in ICU. Even knowing that he was in God’s hands, my mother’s heart grieved. Friends from all over the world held him up in prayer, and miraculously, his lungs strengthened and he woke up earlier than expected – midnight my time on Easter morning. Quite a resurrection day for us! But what Mary watched and suffered was so brutal and horrific. The grief, the relief. An emotional roller coaster ride! You’ve touched every place a mother’s heart would go. Well done.

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Laura, I’m so grateful your son’s lungs strengthened on Easter Sunday morning! What an answer to prayer. How your mother’s heart must have grieved knowing his suffering and risk. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate your comment and encouragement. Blessings!

  2. Raelene says:

    What a beautiful account of Mary’s emotions with the agony of losing her son. But then showing the redemption of her loss with His resurrection. The joy that brings. This is a story well done!

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Thank you Raelene. I appreciate your feedback and confirmation of the power of Mary’s story. Are you still writing? Would love to touch base again. Blessings to you!

  3. Kathy Caballero says:

    Carol, my heart was riveted to this Mother’s heart. Mary was a woman of such humility, obedience, patience, grace and joy! We have so much to learn from her. Thank you for this beautiful account.

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Thank you Kathy. My heart, too, was aching with hers as Mary went through this very long weekend. But praise God for her example to us of leaving her Son in the Father’s hands.

  4. Karen Kleinberg says:

    Oh Carol, this is a jewel! You moved my heart deeply as I identified with Mary, the mother of our Savior and Almighty King, our tortured, warrior who came to pay our impossible debt and defeat the evil one forever! This is such a well written look into the agony and the faith journey of this amazing mother.

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      What an encouraging response you’ve given me, Karen. Praise God for His answer to our prayers about this particular story. Thank you for your prayers along with mine. Love you!

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