Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple who he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” 

 John 19:25-27a (NIV, 1978) 

John typically gave himself a special designation in his Gospel as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” His use of that phrase here is not unusual. Notice that he named each of the ladies who were gathered there as well. It would have been expected that he would have also called the familiar names of fellow disciples who were there. Yet, he didn’t. 

Now, it is a very dangerous practice in disciplined Bible study to attempt to “make an argument from silence,” or, in other words, assume that because John made no reference to the other disciples that they were, therefore, not there. However, all four Gospel accounts have this issue in common—that except for John, there is no evidence that any of the disciples were present to stand by Jesus at the most crucial moment of his mission. Judas had committed suicide. Peter was, no doubt, a spiritual and emotional mess after denying Jesus the previous evening just as He had predicted He would. Think about it. Those who had been with Him from the beginning were not to be found. 

Though we stand amazed at the miracle of lives and families restored at Adult & Teen Challenge, our hearts break over the more than 60% who do not complete the program to embrace its benefits. However, if those who had been with Jesus for three and a half years were not with Him at the cross, it is at least understandable that those who come to be with us with their lives in utter chaos would fail in their attempt to follow Him even for twelve months.

Just as the disciples, though absent from the cross, later would have the reputation for having “turned the world upside down,” so, too, do we believe there will be a moment when the life and love that has been poured into our students who walk away will bear fruit when least expected. Isn’t it good to know that God knows what He’s doing even when it appears we apparently don’t!