We are continuing with Jesus as He is still with the crowd. As near as I can tell, this is the same crowd where the Pharisees called the Holy Spirit Beezlebul and where the man who was demon oppressed was healed. I’m making this assumption because Matthew hasn’t moved us on from that crowd yet. Matthew has changed the setting a little in today’s lesson by putting Jesus inside a house or structure. He didn’t put Him there in the beginning though, and that is why I’m not CERTAIN this is the same crowd. Honestly though, for our story it doesn’t make a lot of difference today. So let’s just jump in with whoever Jesus is with now.
While Jesus is talking about the boomerang demon issue, He is approached by someone. The man approaching Him is trying to get Jesus’ attention to let Him know that His family is waiting outside to talk to Him. In Mark 3:21 we are told that Jesus’ family thought He was nuts for saying that He was the Son of God, the Messiah. They were trying to shut Him up and drag Him away quietly so He would quit embarrassing the family. That was their mission when they arrived. What ever happened to, “Mary treasured these things in her heart?” Joseph is apparently not around to straighten things out. How did Mary, who was SO strong in the beginning, get to this point? What filled her with doubt?
When the man delivered the message that Jesus’ family wanted a word with Him, Jesus turned it into a lesson. First of all, Jesus addressed the current relationship status with His family. They had a broken or at least very strained relationship. They were out to stop Jesus from doing the one thing He was born to do. To share the message of salvation with all who would listen.
Secondly, Jesus didn’t expose their motives to the group. Jesus knew the hearts of His family and what they were trying to do. His family did NOT believe He was Who He claimed to be. He didn’t condemn them for their unbelief or chastise them for wanting to “help” Him. But He also didn’t subject Himself to their plans.
Third, Jesus stated exactly what is required to be part of His family. Jesus said that to be part of His family, one needs to be about the Father’s work. This work included believing that Jesus was sent by God Himself as the way to salvation. Jesus’ disciples didn’t have a complete handle on what was required either, but their willingness to trust Him and follow Him wherever He went was crucial. Jesus’ earthly family was doing just the opposite of that. They didn’t believe and they wanted to lead Him away with them. Jesus was not going to let that happen. He simply dismissed their plans, along with reordering His relationship priorities publicly.
Finally, as the eldest child, Jesus would have been responsible for providing for His mother after His father’s death. Jesus’ lesson today didn’t relieve Him of this responsibility. We are told directly that Jesus fulfilled ALL the law, including the portion about honoring you father and mother. Jesus even made arrangements to care for His mother after His own death. He committed her into to care of John, His disciple, just before He died. Jesus’ loved His earthly family, but He loved His Father more. He would fulfill His responsibility to His family, but He would NOT let them interfere with His responsibility to God and His service to the rest of the world.
I want to look at Jesus’ earthly family for a little bit.
God chose Jesus’ earthly family VERY carefully. He chose a mother who was willing to endure all the shame associated with being found pregnant before marriage. A woman willing to risk death in order to serve her God. A mother who was sentimental as well as quietly curious. Every word said to her about her Son Jesus was locked away in her heart. She took out these memories on occasion. While examining the comments, she was proud of her Son but also wondered about the full meaning of those comments.
Jesus’ earthly father was instrumental in protecting His life on several occasions. He listened instantly to God whenever God had instructions for him, and he believed every word spoken to him during those times. He didn’t worry about the court of public opinion when he took Mary as his bride. He willingly accepted Jesus as his own Son. He instructed Jesus in his craft and he raised Him in the ways of a man.
A lot of the work was already done for Jesus’ parents, simply because of Who Jesus was. They never had to teach Him how to walk with integrity. He never told a lie. (A truth George Washington’s story could not live up to.) They didn’t have to teach Him to show His parents respect. He honored them daily, right up to the moment before His death. They didn’t even have to teach Him to be kind to His brothers and sisters. He cared about them deeply, which is why it probably broke His heart when they wouldn’t listen.
Had Mary and Joseph talked openly at home about Jesus’ birth? Did His brothers and sisters know Jesus’ true heritage? Was He treated different from them? Were they jealous of Him? Joseph, Jacob’s son, was treated horribly by his brothers because of the special treatment Jacob showered on him. Did Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ earthly parents, try to avoid the animosity in the other household’s story by treating Jesus just the same? Knowing children, they noticed a difference, even if one was not obviously visible to outsiders. Jesus did not sin, not even as a child. So, it is quite probable that the children always felt their parents comparing their behavior to His, and they ALWAYS fell short. That is enough to set up a sibling rivalry right there, rightly earned or not.
I wonder how many brothers and sisters Jesus had in all. Were there any who refused to believe in Him at all? James changed his mind after Jesus’ resurrection. How many others in His family changed their minds too? Did He appear to them personally after He rose? What an argument stopper that would have been!
Father God, You were so careful in choosing Jesus’ earthly family. You even have power to open and close the womb, so You had control over how many siblings Jesus had. I’m glad He wasn’t an only child, as there are lessons you can only learn by being in the midst of a larger family. Being the oldest child also presents unique lessons Jesus benefited from. Having the responsibility of caring for His widowed mother brought the opportunity to take on the role of head of the household for Jesus.
There are some roles Jesus never took on physically. The role of boyfriend, fiancé, husband, and father were never undertaken by Jesus before His death. Many of these roles He takes on spiritually instead. Jesus is “engaged” to the church. You are preparing the Marriage Supper. Jesus will be the BEST Husband ever! But what about the role of a father? Will Jesus experience this role? I’m sure it will be a LOT different than what we experience, but will He know the thrill of watching His child grow? Are we His children, or are we Your children? Will those in the new Heaven and new Earth be children of Jesus and His bride, the church? Will Jesus simply forego this role personally and experience it through Your eyes?
Whatever Your plan God, I know it is good and perfect. Thank You for letting me be part of Jesus’ family. Thank You for adopting me. I hope to make You proud someday.