Wednesday, 16 October 2019
Luke 8:21 But Jesus answered them, "My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."
What is this? Is Jesus disowning His family?
Context, context, context! Jesus has been doing ministry and His family want to talk with Him but find their way blocked by the crowds. Nothing unusual there; ministry families today have to put up with exactly the same issue: you want to talk to your spouse, child or parent, but "ministry" gets in the way and you have to wait until later. We don't know if Jesus' mother and brothers sent a message, or if someone simply noticed that they were there and so generated the request on their behalf, as it were, but Jesus' response still surprises us. Isn't He a Jewish man, raised in the Jewish values and culture of the Ten Commandments: honour your father and mother?
This is what is known as hyperbolic language. It isn't that Jesus is refusing to acknowledge His duty towards a dependant (widow) mother and brothers; He knows that full well. It is that He seizes the moment to make a telling point: that relationship with and obedience to God and His word must be the over-riding demand on those who claim to follow Him. And since one of the first of those commandments is to honour father and mother, everything comes out even. The shock makes us sit up and take notice - as it should - but the consistent teaching of the Scriptures about family culture and responsibility are safe in Jesus' hands.