When a man was hanging on a cross, suspended on iron spikes, he wanted one thing and one thing only, death. He thought of one person and one person only, himself. Given that reality that is what makes the seven cries of Jesus from the cross utterly incredible. Unlike all other victims of crucifixion, Christ was more concerned about others and their needs than He was about Himself.
This selflessness is best seen in Jesus concern that His mother Mary be taken care of by John after He is gone (John 19:25-27). In accordance with the law, Christ sought to honor His mother (Ex. 20:12). Occupied as He was with the great work of redemption our Lord Jesus nevertheless fulfilled his domestic duties toward His mother, Mary. Although there was a world to save, Christ did not forget the duties that lay at hand.
What we have in this cry from the Cross is a beautiful blending and balancing of the great with the small. Jesus did not achieve eternal redemption for mankind at the expense of caring for His mother. Despite the magnitude of the moment and the bigness of the task, Jesus still gave time and thought to other things. In doing this Christ models a couple of principles that we need to take to heart. One, the path to achievement must never pave over competing obligations that might be viewed as lesser (Matt. 23:11-12; Luke 19:17). Accomplishing something great must never be achieved at the expense of doing small things well. In doing great things we must also do the little things as though they were great. Two, the call to save the world must never take us beyond caring for our families (1 Tim. 3:4-5). Charity begins at home. In writing to Timothy, Paul reminds this young minister that God doesn’t call a man to be a father and a pastor in such a way that those two roles constantly war against each other. To be the one you must be the other.
A medical student was profoundly anxious about his future. He was working himself into a nervous breakdown. Then one spring day in 1871 he read twenty-one words from the writing of Thomas Carlyle that changed his thinking. The young man later became the most famous physician of his era. He organized the John Hopkins School of Medicine and became Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford. His name was Sir William Osler and these are the words that he read: “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” Jesus never lost sight of the duties that lay at hand and neither should we. In all our dreaming and doing let’s not forget to take the trash out. The big must never be done at the expense of the small. And the small must be seen as equally big.