Jesus redefines family

Then Jesus’ mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’ Lu 8:19-21

In this scene Jesus redefines family, admitting you and me into God’s gracious home. But what was it like for Mary to hear his new description of the familial bond? Can you put yourself in her sandals?

Her son, Jesus, had been out and about proclaiming the good news and healing the sick. He had gained quite a following, wherever he went crowds surrounded him. Mary comes to see him, assuming her role as his mother would give her a backstage pass. After all, she’d carried him in her womb, birthed and raised him; she was his mother.

Jesus’ response opened her eyes a bit wider to truth. Her role in his life was important, but not central. Her relationship with him was unique, but not more significant than any one else’s. He said anyone who hears God’s word and acts on it is as central and signifiant to me as my own mother. Jesus adjusts her view of reality. He is not primarily her son, he is Lord. Being intimately connected to him is not about family ties, it is about obedience. What do you think she felt at his response? What would you feel?

We are not told how Mary reacted, but I know what I would have felt: offended, embarrassed and angry. My reaction tells me I expect my relationship with Jesus to afford me some special privileges; my needs should be honored; he should march to my drumbeat. And Jesus gives me ‘tough love.’ “I am Lord, you are not. The universe does not revolve around you and your expectations. You are one of my Father’s deeply loved and valued children. Will you let this be enough for you?”

The scripture, when we let it, tells us our own story, opening our eyes to the truth and adjusting our reality.

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