By Lee Jamison
God is a binder. He binds Himself to people in covenant relationship and He binds people to each other in family relationships. Much of the Law and wisdom literature of the Hebrews addresses the enduring respect that children are to have for parents and the loving obligation the parents have for children. So strong was this bond that Hebrews preserved genealogies so that their family lineage was traceable back to Abraham through one of the sons of Jacob. Both Matthew and Luke provide such a lineage for Jesus in introducing Him to us in their respective gospel accounts. Family matters. As I like to say, “Blood is thicker than water”.
Into this scene of accusation and division caused by the scribes come the mother and brothers of Jesus. As was customary, the others tried to respectfully usher them into His presence. In one of those wonderful moments found throughout His life, Jesus surprises us. Instead of receiving them in honor, He “rejects” them publicly. Has He not just “divided His house against itself”? Is Jesus violating the Law by treating His mother in this manner? On the surface it appears so, and even worse for a respected Rabbi, He apparently contradicted His teaching with His actions. The crowd (with us looking in over their shoulders) is ripe for His powerful point. The family that is bound together by doing the Father’s will is the “blood family” of Jesus.
Hebrews were Hebrews by birth. Christians are Christians by being born again. Hebrews were heirs to an inheritance of land and property in the “promised land” by birth (and birth order), Christians are adopted into the family and given full rights of full inheritance in the everlasting kingdom. The family of Abraham was God’s chosen vessel to bring Messiah into the world. The family of God in Christ (the church) is God’s chosen vessel to bring the saved into heaven. The blood shed on the cross went back in time to cover sins and rolls ever forward in time until time is no more. God is a binder. He binds those who do His will together by the blood of His Son Jesus. Mary and her other sons were to be bound to Jesus more fully and forcefully than by mere genetics. He did not reject them, He gave them the opportunity to receive Him.
In thinking on these things, take a moment to think through the implications of everything that has transpired in the narrative since Jesus appointed the twelve. The minions of evil were cast out so that people could receive truth. The perceived purveyors of truth (the scribes) accused Jesus of working for Satan. Jesus obliterated their false charge and taught us about unity and the seriousness of sin. With the identification of His true family, He brought into clear focus the nature of Christianity. The church is not a club, it is the binding together by blood those who do the will of God in Christ Jesus into a divine family that glorifies its Father. The way that we treat our brothers and sisters is inextricably linked to the doing the will of the Father. It was John to whom Jesus committed the care of His mother, Mary, while He hung on the cross ... and, it was John who penned the thoughts of the Holy Spirit of God, saying, “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious. Whoever does not do righteousness is not of God; neither is one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10). Family matters.
- Lee Jamison, Columbia, Tenn; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com