Why Jesus Entrusted Mary to Disciple John Instead of to His Brothers
Unless people know the background of the life and ministry of Jesus, they will find it strange that on the cross when Jesus was dying, He entrusted His mother to His disciple John instead of to His own family. He also entrusted His disciple to His mother. The answer is not as farfetched as one would think.
According to John 19:26–27, “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
Jesus' beloved disciple John and His mother Mary were both at the cross. No other family member was present at the cross on the day Jesus was crucified.
Joseph, Jesus' earthly father was already died by the time Jesus died at the age of 33. Therefore, Mary was a widow and quite old. So, she needed someone reliable to take care of her.
While Jesus was alive and preaching the gospel, His family rejected Him. In fact, they ran Him out of town because they considered Him to be a laughingstock. After Jesus' death and resurrection, the family did come to know Him as the savior of the world.
Mary's Other Children
Jesus had four brothers: James, Joseph (Joses), Judas (Jude), and Simon., and an unknown number of sisters (Matthew 12:46; 13:55, 56, Luke 8:19, and Mark 3:31). Jesus also had sisters who are not numbered or named in the Bible (Matthew 13:56). We know there were at least two sisters because of the plural noun.
Jesus' brothers were not believers and did not acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah while He was alive. That is the main reason Jesus did not choose any of them to care for His mother after His death.
Mary's other children did eventually come to believe in Jesus. They are described as praying with the disciples, according to Galatians 1:19. What great opportunities they missed by not knowing their brother was the Savior when they were growing up.
What they missed when they could have being playing basketball and Jesus never missed a basket! They could have been on Jesus' team. What fun they missed when they were out swimming and Jesus stood up and walked on water.
Reason John Was Selected
Jesus entrusted Mary to John for several reasons. First of all, John was a believer and the brothers and sisters were not. Secondly, John had walked and worked with Jesus for three years while Jesus' family had not. Jesus knew who John was and what he believed. Jesus' brothers and sisters did not have that relationship with Him. Thirdly, Jesus looked down from the cross and saw His mother standing beside John. Apparently, the two had a good relationship.
Because Jesus was the oldest of Mary's children, He was the one responsible for her care. Jesus was following the scriptural teaching that widows and the elderly should be cared for.
Jesus chose John, and the disciple took Mary into his home to care for her as Jesus had commanded. The bottom line is that John had spent significant time with Jesus. Therefore, Jesus could trust him because He knew what He had taught John. He had not taught His brothers and sisters anything because they didn't spend time with Him. They didn't know the earthly Jesus. They did come to know Him after His resurrection.
How Long Did Mary Stay with John?
It is recorded that Mary was among the one hundred twenty (Acts 1:15) who were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4). That was the last mention of Mary in the Bible even though she probably continued to stay with John in Jerusalem until her death within two years after the resurrection.
John stayed in Jerusalem until three years after Paul's conversion according to Galatians 2:9. After that time, John left Jerusalem and ministered in other areas. He wrote the Gospel of John, three epistles of First, Second and Third John. The disciple also wrote the apocrypha Book of Revelation.
Two of Jesus' brothers, James and Jude, have books in the Bible that bear their names. James is a general epistle of only five powerful chapters of practical advice for believers. He tells believers to persevere during trials and temptations. In fact, he tells them to "count it all joy" (James1:2-3).
Jude is the last book in the Bible with only one chapter. In that one chapter, Jude encourages believers to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
If Jesus' brothers and sisters had known Him and were believers, perhaps Jesus would have gone along with the usual cultural obligation and entrusted His mother to one of them instead of to His beloved disciple John.