They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’; but that He said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’ ”
Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece.
So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; this was to fulfill the Scripture: “They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” Therefore the soldiers did these things.
But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (John 19:17–27)
Women in the first century had few rights. Generally speaking, they were dependent upon their husbands, fathers, brothers or sons for their survival. If a woman became a widow and there were no male relatives to care for her, she usually had but two options: begging or prostitution. Mary was a destitute widow. Therefore, Jesus told John to treat his mother as if she were his own, and he told his mother to think of John as her son.
Although we may think that the social structure of first century Palestine was barbaric, and we might think Jesus should have spoken out more explicitly against the oppression and mistreatment of women, what he did do and say was very practical given the constraints of that society. And, of course, over the centuries since, in those parts of the world most heavily influenced by Christianity, the social structure has changed—so much so that it is now hard for us to even conceive of the problem Mary was facing.