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THE FAMILY REDEFINED
"His mother and brothers showed up but couldn't get through to Him because of the crowd. He was given the message, 'Your mother and brothers are standing outside wanting to see you.' He replied, 'My mother and brothers are the ones who hear and do God's Word. Obedience is thicker than blood.'" Luke 8:19-21 (The Message).
Jesus' relationship with His human family was unique. No other family on earth had a sibling who was both God and man. Mary knew that, but she still had difficulty in realising that, once He had left her home, she had not more claim to Him. He still acknowledged her as His earthly mother -- at the cross He placed her in John's care -- but He embraced a much bigger and closer family than His blood family.
It must have been difficult for Mary to cut the ties of motherhood with Him and make the transition from Jesus, her son to Jesus, her Lord. At some time during her son's public ministry or perhaps after the resurrection she must have finally made the transition. She was among the one hundred and twenty worshippers who were gathered together on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and the church was born.
Like many Jewish families, Jesus was the first of a large number of siblings. He had four brothers, according to the mention of their names, and at least two sisters, perhaps more, although unnamed but, to His brothers He was just Jesus, their eldest brother and Mary's firstborn and heir. They resented Him. They neither recognised Him as the Messiah nor even treated him with respect until after the resurrection.
His brothers had been sceptical and positively rude to Him. On one occasion, before the Feast of Tabernacles, they taunted Him. "'Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.' For even His own brothers did not believe in Him." John 7:3, 4 (NIV).
Jesus was not fazed by their cruel taunts, but He must have been saddened by their unbelief. Yet it must have been difficult for them to realise that their own brother was the Son of God. It took the horrifying and shocking events of His crucifixion and resurrection to shake their scepticism and bring them to faith in Him as Messiah and Lord.
Other gospel writers reveal the reason for His family's coming on this occasion. Things had hotted up so much around him -- His popularity with the crowd on the one hand, and His conflict with the religious leaders on the other -- that they thought they needed to rescue Him because He had lost it! But He made is clear that He was very sane. Some of those who followed Him were learning and forging a loyalty with Him that ran much deeper than human family bonds and they needed to understand that.
Was Jesus implying that there is no such thing as second-generation faith? Every person has to believe and take responsibility for his or her own connection to Him. Each one who hears and responds in obedience to the Word of God becomes a part of the family of God and lives under His rule.
Perhaps this is also an answer to the "once saved, always saved" question. We have to move away from the idea that "salvation" is a passport that we carry to give us access to heaven when we die. That is far from the Biblical concept of salvation. It is the process by which we are being restored to "shalom" -- wholeness -- so that we can fit in in God's kingdom where there is no imperfection of any kind.
Those who think that salvation is a passport that they will produce at the pearly gates may get a shock when they are told, 'I never knew you." To be saved, in Jesus' words to Nicodemus in John 3, is to receive the supernatural grace of the Holy Spirit to enter the kingdom of God, to submit to His rule and obey His Word so that He can transform us into true sons and daughters.
Have you done that?
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