“Years ago, I was told it would happen. Shortly after He was born. I didn’t understand it then and it’s hard for me to understand it now,” she thought to herself in the midst of her seemingly endless flow of tears.
It was a pain the likes of which she never felt before – sharp and piercing, as though a sword had gone through her. “My son, my son”, she cried, as she looked up at Yeshua, nailed to a cross, blood flowing from His head, His arms, His face. She could hardly recognize Him, and seeing the son of her womb in His present condition, was unbearable. “Aunt Miriam”, John called out, as he grabbed hold of her to prevent her from falling to the ground.
A lifetime passed in a moment. Thirty three years earlier, Miriam was taking care of things around the house and preparing things in anticipation of her upcoming marriage to Joseph. “Joseph should arrive later today to visit, maybe I’ll prepare his favorite meal as a surprise, he’s working so hard…”. Suddenly, Miriam heard someone calling her name. She thought everyone in the family had gone out and didn’t expect anyone to come. When she turned and saw him standing there, his appearance so bright and radiant. She wasn’t scared, she had a sense of heavenly peace as she looked at the person speaking to her. “An angel!” She never saw an angel before, but there was no doubt, one was now in her home and talking to her. As Miriam listened to the words of the angel, she felt an increasing joy well up within her accompanied by an expectation to know more. “But, how will this be?” As the angel explained everything to her, all Miriam could think of was “I am the Lord’s servant, may your will be done as you speak”, and that was all she said. She thought her heart would burst from excitement and joy.
“Wow, I can’t wait to tell Joseph. What will he say, what will he think? God, I trust you in this matter, please let Joseph believe me and give him the joy and expectancy for this wonderful news”.
Miriam began to prepare dinner, but all she could think about what the presence of the angel and what he said to her. She still can’t believe it. When Joseph arrived, her excitement bubbled over. “Joseph! I am So happy to see you!” Miriam ran to him and cupped his hands in hers. Joseph had a puzzled look on his face, wondering what all the excitement was about. “My dear Miriam, I am so happy to be here too,” Joseph said lovingly as he looked at his young fiancée. “Is that what I think it is?” Joseph asked as he drew near to the kitchen table. He smiled as he saw his favorite meal, and smelled the spices. “Oh…yes, it is”, said Miriam. “You work so hard and I wanted to encourage you today”. Joseph washed his hands and sat down to eat, but he hardly took a bite when Miriam began sharing her news. “What?!” Joseph said, staring at her, trying to understand what she was saying. “But, Miriam, how? OK, I heard what you said, but really?” Joseph had a hard time believing her. His mind started to race. “She couldn’t have…could she? I thought she was faithful, that she loved me…is she telling the truth?” Miriam stood and looked at Joseph, begging with her eyes that he believe her. “I need to go home Miriam, I need time to think”. “But Joseph…” she started, “let me be, Miriam, I need time to think, to pray … to understand”.
That night Miriam sat and prayed fervently. “God, I trust you. You chose me to carry the child that the angel spoke about, but to raise him, I need Joseph with me. Please, speak to him, let him believe me. I know that if he doubts, so will others. So will my family, my sister and parents. God of Abraham, keep me in your hands and protect me, guide me”.
Miriam wasn’t the only one praying fervently that night. So was Joseph at his house. “God, she is so young, perhaps her heart was led astray? Maybe I should send her away quietly so as not to put her to shame, I still love her and this sounds so unreal”. Jospeh felt sadness as the decision began to come together to send his beloved Miriam away, so she would not be found pregnant out of marriage.
Miriam began to feel the changes in her body. She knew she was pregnant, just like the angel said she would be. She needed to get a handle on all of this and decided to visit her relative Elisheva for three months, all the while continuing to pray that God would give Joseph a trusting spirit.
“Joseph, Joseph, fear not…” Joseph ran to Miriam’s house the morning after she returned. He had no moment to lose. “An angel appeared to me last night Miriam”, he said, “and told me everything, I am sorry I didn’t believe you. We must get married sooner than planned Miriam, I will make all the arrangements”. Miriam thanked God quietly in her heart as Joseph spoke to her, holding her hands in his with love and understanding. It seemed to her like another time, another world.
As Miriam gazed on her son hanging on the cross, she recalled these events, and remembered how she and Joseph had fled to Egypt because Herod sought to kill her son. She recalled how not long before that, shortly after giving birth to him, she and Joseph went to Jerusalem to make the sacrifices for the first born son. As she cradled her little one in her arms, stroking his cheeks and gently touching his hair, an elderly man named Simon approached them. Despite the passage of the years, she never forgot the words he said and what he told her personally, “and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Miriam didn’t know what to make of it at the time, but she kept those things in her heart.
As the years went by, she saw Yeshua grow and at the age of 12, she thought she lost him somewhere in Jerusalem. But, after three days of being “missing”, he told her and Joseph that He was about his father’s business. Again, Miriam added this to the things she kept in her heart.
Miriam knew all this time, since before Yeshua’s birth, that He was special. She could accept that he is the promised Messiah. But she did not expect to see him die. What mother would?
As Yeshua began doing miracles around the land and calling His disciples, she thought, “Maybe, just maybe, now he will establish the kingdom. Oh, if only Joseph were alive to see him now. How proud Joseph was of Yeshua, how he loved him as his own”. But, just as many began to follow Him, opposition to Yeshua also started to grow. And, with the passage of only three short years since He began to minister, the Sanhedrin sought to kill her son, just as Herod did when Yeshua was just a baby. “Why won’t they listen to him? Why do they hate him?” It hurt her to see her son being rejected.
So many memories went through her mind, as she stood the entire six hours at Golgotha, watching her son, wanting to yell at those who mocked him and laughed at him. As news of Yeshua’s arrest the night before spread quickly, Miriam had no time to lose. “I must see him, I must get to him now”. She could not make it through the crowds at Pilate’s court, all she could do was stand outside and shudder as she heard people cry “Crucify him! Crucify him!” The shouts became a deafening roar. “Come, aunt, let’s get away from here”, John urged, trying to move her gently. Miriam didn’t want to leave, but she knew there was no point in staying there.
As Yeshua was being led to the cross, she got her first sight of Him, and nearly collapsed. “My son! What have they done to my son?” He was beaten, scourged, spat upon, bleeding, he could hardly carry the wooden beam on his own from all the pain. At the side of the road where the crowd gathered, her body shook with every strike of the hammer on the nails that pierced the hands of her son. Then, one more, as the nail pierced his feet.
She couldn’t look upon Him. It was too painful. This was her son, her first born. “Woman”, she lifted her gaze as she heard His voice. She saw Yeshua talking directly to her. Her heart began to race as she listened to her son’s last words to her. “This is your son”, referring to John who stood next to her. She looked at John, who was truly like a son to her. And then they both heard Yeshua say, “This is your mother”. It was understood, John took care of her from that point on with the love of a son.
The agony and emotional pain that Miriam felt that day was as unbearable as it was indescribable. Simon’s words to her so many years earlier, which were not understood then, were understood now. An invisible sword pierced her heart just as the Roman nails pierced the flesh of her son. The pain began when she saw her son being mocked and opposed by the religious leadership and she thought she would die from the pain when she saw Yeshua on the cross. And then it was over. But, the pain remained, pain and agony that only a loving mother could feel at the death of her first-born son. “How? Why? But, the angel said …. I don’t understand. How could this be. Yeshua, Oh, my son, Yeshua. What I wouldn’t give for me to die instead of you.”
Several days later, Miriam heard from Yeshua’s disciples that He has risen from the dead. “Could this really be true?” By now, she had gone through the memories of those historic days and of her own life. She had come to realize that indeed, as she looked at Yeshua on the cross, she was looking at her son. But, she saw Him. He IS alive. Death couldn’t hold Him. And now, for the first time, she understood that this child that she delivered came to deliver her. He was her son. She will always be His mother. But, more than a son, He is now her Lord and Savior, through what He accomplished on the cross. That is how she looked upon him from that point on. Her heart was pierced by the sword when He was put to death on the Cross. But, the agony of the Cross turned to joy inexpressible, as she was given a new heart and a new life…in her son.
© Hannah Kramer