Friday 12 February 2021

Bible Book:

'My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.' (v. 21)

Luke 8:19-21 Friday 12 February 2021

Psalm 77


It’s a well-known saying: "You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family." Families can bring us great joy and comfort; they can also be among the hardest, loneliest places we ever find ourselves. It is especially tough when those we know well disagree with us, take us for granted or turn their back on us.

Was Jesus turning his back on his family when they came that day? It seems to me that this must have been a deeply hurtful moment for his mother and his brothers, and it’s noticeable that they aren’t mentioned again in Luke’s Gospel, even though Mary played such a big part in the story of Jesus’ birth. It is clear, however, that Jesus’ brother James was a leader in the Early Church (Galatians 2:9, Acts 15:13).

It’s important not to shy away from the hurt caused here, and yet I wonder whether Luke’s point in telling this story is rather different. Jesus is not saying that his mother and his brothers are no longer part of his family. Rather, he seems to be saying that they do not have a privileged place within the family. The ties of kinship are displaced by the stronger ties of collaboration in carrying out the word of God. Jesus’ blood relations are just as welcome as anyone else to take their place in this family, but they do not have a special status within it.

This theme of equality within the family of God is seen elsewhere too, and it’s often hard to accept. Matthew tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard, where those who had worked all day were horrified to find themselves treated just the same as those who had worked only one hour (Matthew 20:1-16). Unimportant people, women, even little children (Luke 18:15-17) have their place alongside people whom society considers important. This story reminds us very sharply that no-one is privileged in the family of God, but everyone who commits to ‘hearing and doing’ the word of God is welcome to take their place.

 To Ponder:

  • The Church has generally found it difficult to maintain this model of a family where everyone has the same standing. What strategies are you aware of to help us achieve this?
  •  What might you want to say to Jesus’ mother and his brothers?
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