TENSION IN THE FAMILY
Lord, teach me to put You above all else.
Read LUKE 8:16–21
A Lamp on a Stand
16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”
Jesus’ Mother and Brothers
19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”
21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
New International Version (NIV)
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“I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother- in-law” (Matt. 10:35).
What was Jesus’ relationship with his family like? Was it harmonious? After all, Jesus was perfect. Yet in our reading today Jesus appears to snub his brothers and mother, saying his true family embodies those who obey God. Isn’t this disrespectful? Shouldn’t he interrupt his teaching to discover what his family wants? A similar story in Mark’s Gospel suggests why Jesus responds this way: according to Mark, Jesus’ family turns up “to take charge of him,” thinking he is “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). This is not as surprising as it sounds, for we know that his brothers unashamedly repudiate him during his earthly ministry (John 7:5).
Although Jesus considers it important to care for family (he reprimands the Pharisees for neglecting their parents; Mark 7:8–13), he also warns that following him would cause division. He maintains that obedience to God outranks everything, even pleasing loved ones. Following him may involve making choices that our relatives do not understand, such as taking up a lower-paying job or moving some distance away.
Putting God ﬁrst can be a powerful witness to family, though. When Evangelical Alliance’s Gavin Calver was 17, his father Clive felt called to take up a job in America. This involved leaving Gavin in the UK with friends to ﬁnish his A-levels. Although devastated, Gavin was challenged by his parents’ obedience to God, and this encouraged him to make a full commitment to Christ (Gavin Calver, Disappointed with Jesus?, 107–115). Even if we do not experience such happy endings in our families, we can be comforted in the knowledge that Jesus knows family difficulties all too well and so understands the pain we suffer. We can also be encouraged that we are never without family: as part of God’s family, we are blessed with many mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers in Christ.
Are there tensions in your family due to your faith or other reasons? Talk to God about your pain, knowing that Christ, who experienced family problems himself, understands.
Lord, I pray for those members of my family who oppose me because I serve You. Open their eyes and deliver them from the power of the devil.