Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but there was such a crowd they could not get to him. Someone said to Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”
Jesus answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who listen to God’s teaching and obey it!” Luke 8:19-21 (NCV)
We had dinner last night with a friend and the subject of family came up. Probably everyone reading this can identify with me when I say that, “Family is a tricky thing.” By that I mean, relationships with family aren’t always easy.
In some cases you have a long history with family members and, like most of us, they never forget the stupid thing you did or how you used to be. It can be very difficult to “turn over a new leaf” because your family may be quick to remind you how you have failed in the past.
Then there is the family member who you may love but – you find yourself putting up with poor choices and bad behavior or attitude that if it was a co-worker or acquaintance – you would have cut them loose and walked away!
This discussion led us to looking at family in Jesus’ life. How did Jesus handle family?
He was respectful of His parents (Mary and Joseph) even when they were clueless. While it’s true we know little of Jesus’ early life, we are given the snapshot of them going to Jerusalem and losing Him in the crowd of travelers, only to find Him a few days later in the Temple. Some may think that Jesus’ comment about being about His father’s work was – well, smart alecky. I don’t think it was. He was just speaking the truth about what He was doing. And it is immediately followed by the note that He went home with them and submitted to them and learned and grew. He – God – submitted to those that His Father God had put in a position of authority over Him.
While Jesus loved His earthly family, He never forgot who had first place in His life. John 7:5 says that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him. This gives me some insight into Jesus’ response here in Luke when He is told that His mother and brothers have come to visit. Jesus is busy with the mission He has been called to do. His family will have to wait. If I have family that, by their behavior to me, distract me, are destructive to me emotionally or spiritually, or do not support what God is doing in my life – then I need to try to have some conversation with them but I may have to lovingly cut them loose. Just as I made it clear to Henry when we first began to get to know each other that God was #1 in my life and that would never change, so I must also make that clear to my family. That can be difficult because that may require me to make decisions about who I spend time with and how much time I spend with them. Seeking God’s wisdom in this dilemma is key. And allowing a godly sister to hold me accountable is also very helpful especially when I come under attack. This accountable person can truly help me keep the balance in a very emotional situation.
Jesus care for His family even while still moving on. From the cross, Jesus made sure that His mother, Mary, was cared for and would not become a homeless, starving widow on the streets (John 19:25-27) after He died. Caring for members of our family, moving in together or managing an alternative living arrangement is a difficult situation that is filled with many emotions. I don’t know how God may speak specifically to this in our lives, I just know that He is faithful to respond when we ask Him for His wisdom.
Yes, family relationships are tricky and filled with opportunities for both God and the enemy to lead us. Jesus knows the hearts and needs of each of our family members. He is right here, ready to share His wisdom and reassure us that there is enough wisdom and grace to get us through whatever the situation. Let us make our family an ongoing part of our prayer time. May we have the assurance that Jesus can advise us no matter how tangled the relationship.
I am a Friend of God written and sung by Isaac Houghton