Jesus’ Mother and Brothers
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
The Family of God
A tough passage, because Jesus appears to be devaluing the idea of family, something so precious to many of us. We don’t hear much about Jesus’ family in the gospels besides in the early parts of some gospels like Luke, and when we do, he is ditching them to teach in the temple! So it seems superficially that perhaps Jesus did not care about family, but instead valued only his family in God, those who do God’s will?
While it is true that Jesus does challenge us throughout the gospels to be prepared to leave all things to follow him, there is a special insight we receive in the book of John. As Jesus hangs upon the cross, in his final moments, he looks towards his mother and asks for her and John to take of one other. Obviously, his family was very precious to him if he takes his last moments to provide for Mary.
So if Jesus is not devaluing biological family, as we thought initially, what is he doing? There is only one real option: that he is elevating the family of God.
Rather than devaluing biological family, he is challenging his disciples to see each other as they would real family members, with that same sense of inseparable intimacy. You see, we use the phrase “family of God” very loosely and generically to talk about other Christians, but really don’t see each other like family – we refuse to forgive one another, abandon relationships when they become inconvenient, and basically see the family of God as a “take-it or leave-it” kind of thing. But Jesus takes the “family of God” very seriously, seeing the family that we have through faith as basic, important, and enduring as the relationships we have with our biological parents, brothers, and sisters.
1. Who are your spiritual brothers and sisters right now?
2. What are some of the characteristics of a (functional) biological family that you think Jesus would want to see in our faith relationships?
3. Sometimes we wish we weren’t related to our biological brothers and sisters, but we have no choice but to make it work, no matter what! Do you have a spiritual brother and sister whom you wish you weren’t in relationship with? How can you make that relationship work at any cost?