From Studies in the Scriptures Publication: May, 1939
The touching incident of our Lord on the Cross, commending His Mother to the care of John, has often been the subject of comment, and always with the object of pointing out His tender filial care for her, and His wish that she should not be left desolate. Doubtless such was His purpose; but was it all, or nearly all? Had this been all, would He be likely to have chosen almost His last moment, and the most public occasion possible, for the fulfillment of a private family duty, besides using a most strange and peculiar form of expression? Surely not. There seems to be a far deeper purpose, which may appear if we trace the Lord's treatment of His earthly parent from the beginning. The first recorded words uttered by the Lord to His mother were a gentle remonstrance: "How is it that ye sought Me? wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" "Thy father and I," had said Mary. She seemed to have been leaving the Heavenly Father for a moment out of sight, and a reminder was necessary. Though the Child Jesus returned and was "subject unto them," and 18 quiet years of loving intercourse followed--the first strand of the tie which had united Mother and Son had been parted, and their relation to one another can never have been quite the same as before.
The next recorded conversation was at the marriage at Cana: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" The words sound strangely stern; doubtless they were softened by the tenderest tone and manner, but they were, for all that, a sharp reminder that Mary's maternal authority was now at an end. Another strand was parted, this one at the opening of His public ministry, as the first one was at the opening of His life or Manhood. A little later on His mother and His brethren stood without desiring to speak with Him, seeking to lay hands on Him, for they said, "He is beside Himself" (Mark 3:21, 31). The Lord's reply was startling, for it placed His mother on an absolute level with the humblest believers, "Who is My mother and who are My brethren?" "Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in Heaven, the same is My brother and sister and mother" (Matt. 12:48-53)! Another strand was gone! The last mention of Mary in the Gospels is the one with which we started, and which is now seen in a stronger light.
One by one we have seen the ties which bound together Divine Son and human mother severed by His own hand, now the last is touched, and she is His no longer. "Woman, behold thy son," said the dying Saviour. "Then said He unto the disciple, Behold thy mother" (John 19:26-27). A remarkable form of expression it seems. We should have expected Him to say, "I commend unto thee My mother"; but never once is it recorded that the Lord either addressed Mary or spoke of her as My mother, and now as He is about to lay down His earthly life and afterwards assume His resurrection glory, He sets the human relationship aside forever. And Mary, who was wont to ponder things in her heart, seems to have meekly acquiesced, though doubtless this was one of the sharpest thrusts of the sword which pierced through her soul. "From that hour," apparently an early hour, "that disciple took her unto his own home." Perhaps she did not see Him die. Certainly her name is not among those present at the empty grave; indeed it is not recorded that she ever saw Him in his resurrection body.
Once more does Mary appear in Holy Writ: Acts 1:14, where, she is seen among the little company of humble believers who continued in prayer and supplication, waiting for the promise of the Father; and then we altogether lose sight of her. Each of the occasions on which our Lord repudiated Mary's interference was a public one, as if to emphasize and provide ample testimony to His action, and the last was the most public of all, when He finally relinquished the filial relationship and transferred it to another man. Preachers have taken much pains to minimize and explain away the apparent distance of our Lord towards Mary--but that it existed there can be no manner of doubt, and we can see the "needs be" of it. The time was coming when the poor humble human instrument of His incarnation would be styled "the Mother of God" and the "Queen of Heaven" and would be accorded idolatrous reverence, and the Lord foreseeing it took strong measures to discountenance such misplaced devotion; and hard as it may have seemed to Mary at the time, she will understand it all, and "magnify the Lord" for it in that day when she shall "awake" with His "likeness" and be "satisfied."--(A.M. 1902).