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What exactly does "took her into his home" mean in the following passage?

John 19:26-27 (NIV)
26  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27  and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

If it means that Mary came to live with John, why would this be allowed? Since Mary is married to Joseph? Did Joseph die somewhere down the line? Wouldn't it be frowned upon that a woman lives with a man who is not her husband? Why isn't Joseph mentioned, at all?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

This is supplemental to @LanceRobert's answer (if Joseph was not dead, these points do not avail much).

  1. Remember how much older than John Mary would have been. It has traditionally been held that John was a rather young disciple (note for example that he outruns flamboyant Peter; also a late date for the book of Revelation supports this idea if you subscribe to that). Jesus told him to take Mary in as his mother. Mary would have been in at least her mid forties at this time, but in my opinion at least fifty (33 years of Jesus' life + surely at least 12 years old when she conceived him—though I do not think there is warrant for believing she was that young.) Thus, I would expect that there would be less of a social stigma for her living with him, as it would have been fairly clear that she was not his girlfriend if she was at least twenty years older than him, and maybe more.
  2. Jesus' death was extremely high-profile. Thus it would be easy to make the connection to why she would have moved in with John: her husband and firstborn both gone.
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@Ryan, No, we know she had other sons (and daughters). If he was referring to cousins, he wouldn't have mentioned both brothers and sisters. Also, Galatians 1:19, "But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." Jesus delegating the responsibility shows us just how close John was to him. –  Lance Roberts Dec 27 '11 at 4:22
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@LanceRoberts I think you are right. Jesus, both as the firstborn of Mary, and simply as the Lord, certainly had the right to delegate this responsibility, even if he had other living siblings. –  Kazark Dec 27 '11 at 17:47
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@LanceRoberts et al., Jesus obeyed the Jewish law. There wouldn't have been even a question of whose responsibility Mary would be. It would have been a younger son if one had existed. "Cousin" is a neuter word in English, but in Semitic languages "cousin" (DVD or DVDVT) is either masculine or feminine, just as brother and sister are a matched set. This pattern exists in any number of modern languages as well. The word is used in Biblical Hebrew more or less interchangeably with brothers and sisters. That was my point. The use of the words "brothers" or "sisters" doesn't make a difference. –  Ryan Dec 30 '11 at 0:00
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@Ryan, because it was a custom, and with his INFINITE wisdom, he decided that John should take care of her. –  Lance Roberts Jan 2 '12 at 4:06
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@Ryan, surely cousins would be closer relatives than John and hence would by default inherit the responsibility if Jesus had no brothers or brothers-in-law? So either way the delegation to John is unusual, and hence it lacks evidential value in interpreting Mk 6:3, etc. It's also worth noting that legal adoption would have been a familiar concept, at least from Roman practice, although I don't know whether we have any sources for the opinion of Palestinian Jews on the subject. –  Peter Taylor Jan 4 '12 at 21:37

The text does not mention Joseph (his Father) because he was more than likely deceased. It should also be noted that since the only Male mentioned from Jesus' inner circle is the disciple Jesus loved (referred to as John in previous texts) was still around and at the cross -- James and the others abandoned Jesus.

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In fact, James and his brothers at this point still probably to some extent thought he was nuts, as the text suggests. They responded more than likely to the Risen Christ. –  Matt Apr 19 at 12:23

The last we hear of Joseph is in Luke 2 during the Jerusalem passover trip when Jesus was 12.

Luke 2:43  And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

The consensus is that Joseph was long since dead by the time of Jesus' ministry. It would have probably been a good time after the Jerusalem trip, because Jesus had a number of brothers and sisters (Mark 6:3). Though since he was twelve at this point, they all could have been born by then.

Mark 6:3  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

Another verse that verifies Jesus had brothers Gal 1:19:

Galatians 1:19  But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

The fact that Mary was part of Jesus' retinue is a good indicator that Jesus was in the role of head of household and was taking care of her. This is also shown by his giving to John the responsibility to take care of the widow Mary (showing just how close John was to Jesus).

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While the scriptural foundation is rather circumstantial, we have no record of Joseph beyond Jesus' childhood. Cana? (John 2:1-11) Mary was there, Joseph was not (or was not mentioned.) Nazareth, when Mary and Jesus' brothers were outside? (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:20-32) Joseph isn't mentioned. He never appears in context of Jesus' ministry, arrest, trial, or crucifixion. –  GalacticCowboy Dec 20 '11 at 16:17

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