Matthew 12

12 Feb

Matthew 12:46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”[g]

48He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

There are several passages within Matthew in which Jesus seems to redefine family and put family in its place. At one point in Matthew Jesus says that those who put family before him are not worthy of him and here Jesus seems to define family not by blood but by obedience.

So is Jesus down on family? I don’t think so because in other passages he uses family in a positive light such as the story of the Prodigal Son. The commandments mention honoring our parents. Paul talks about the believer who neglects his family as being the worst kind of person. He also mentions that a husband needs to lay down his life for his wife as Christ did for his church. There are only so many people that you can practically devote that kind of love and sacrifice and Paul demands that it first and foremost should be displayed towards your spouse.

But Jesus does two things. He refuses to make family ultimate and in doing so he opens the door for others to join our family.

When family becomes an idol we will do anything to feed its security and reputation even if it means hurting others. When you think of family as idol probably the clearest example that pops into my mind is the mafia. This can also take on larger persona’s in thinking that your larger family (nationality) is better than other families (nationalities) which is prejudice. Jesus says that unless we hate our father and mother we are not worthy of him (Jewish teaching deals a lot with hyperbole. eg. Jacob I loved and Esau I’ve hated) isn’t a condemnation of family but putting a boundary line on the dangerous trait of humanity that takes good things and makes them ultimate and in the process we destroy ourselves or others.

In the process of destroying the idol of family the definition for family becomes larger. The prayer that Jesus teaches his disciples begins “Our Father.” That means anyone that prays this prayer, which deals with the Kingdom of God and following God in the way of Jesus, is also our brother and sister because we have the same Father.

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