Can you imagine being Jesus’ mother? Of course Mary knew that Jesus was the Messiah. If she were tempted to wonder if the angel who had appeared to her was a figment of her imagination, the ensuing miraculous pregnancy left no doubt. However, an angel did not appear to her other children and they thought that their older brother was a little (or a lot) embarrassing.
John 7:5 tells us that Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe that He was the Messiah. In Mark 3:20-21, His family tried to physically stop Him from teaching and said, “He is out of His mind!” Like any mother who just wants her children to get along, Mary had to navigate this mess with her kids. It couldn’t have been easy.
In Matthew 12:46-50 (and Luke 8:19-21) Jesus’ brothers showed up at a house where he was teaching. Mary came along also (probably to try and negotiate peace between her sons). As Jesus was teaching, they sent word to Him that they were there. We can assume that they expected Him to stop teaching and come out of the house and speak with them. Perhaps this was another attempt to get Jesus to stop teaching what they believed to be heretical nonsense before something terrible happened.
Jesus was having none of it. Jesus knew His purpose on earth was not to do the will of His earthy family, but to do the will of His Heavenly Father (John 4:34).
We may, at times, feel tension between doing what God tells us to do and doing what those around us find acceptable or “normal.” Your family may not support your calling to foster or adopt. They may not understand why you spend Thanksgiving working in a homeless shelter. They may not understand why you go to church each week. If so, you are in good company with Jesus.
Our challenge will be to respond to doubters around us the way that Jesus responded to His. First, He didn’t stop doing what He knew was right. In time, Jesus’ brothers came around and became some of His biggest supporters. His brother, James, even wrote a book in the New Testament. We can remain hopeful that our critics will see the light also.
Second, Jesus remained respectful. We never read that Jesus told His brothers off or proved His calling by showing off with a great miracle to put them in their place. (And no one has had more of a right to do this.) He always tried to woo His family to the truth the way that He woos all of us, with love.
When our calling is in conflict with our family’s expectations, we must not abandon our calling. We must, instead, continue to do the will of our Heavenly Father and do what we can to live at peace with those around us (Romans 12:18).
(For those who have missed any of the previous lessons, you can go to https://comethirstyministry.com/blog/ and view all previous postings.)
Day 1: Matthew 1:18-25 (Mary)
Day 2: Matthew 2:1-23 (Mary)
Day 3: Matthew 12:46-50 and Luke 8:19-21 (Mary)
Day 4: Matthew 14:1-12 (Herodias)
Day 5: Mathew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30 (Canaanite Woman)