Jesus’ Mother and Brothers
46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”- Matthew 12:46-50
Jesus was amongst the crowd preaching when someone told him that his mother and brothers (and possibly sisters) were standing outside and wanted to speak to Him. I have always wondered why did they not come in? Or why did Jesus not go out to meet them but used them to talk about who all constitute as the family of Christ. But when we read the same incident in Mark we get to know the context of the situation.
Jesus Accused by His Family and by Teachers of the Law
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family[a] heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”…………………………………….“He has an impure spirit.”31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” – Mark 3:20-35
In the above passage we see that his family came to take charge of him saying that he is out of his mind. Although some translations replace family with his friends(KJV) or His own people(NKJV). When his family arrived at the house where Jesus was arguing with the ‘Teachers of the Law’ they did not come in, but sent someone in to fetch Jesus. They were not interested in what Jesus was preaching but wanted Jesus to leave whatever he was doing and come meet them. They were possibly afraid of their place in the society as Jesus was arguing with the Teachers of the law or feared for Jesus’ safety. Whatever the reason might have been they showed disrespect to Jesus’ ministry. And as we saw in the earlier verse they even accused Jesus of being out of his mind. If anyone would have known for sure that Jesus was the son of God it would have been Mary, but even she for the sake of the society became a hindrance to Jesus’ ministry. Indeed his family was a hindrance to his ministry. Jesus responds to their call by proclaiming all those who do God’s will as his kindred.
A Prophet Without Honor
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,[a] Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. – Mark 6:1-6
His own hometown rejected him. They refused to hear his words and only saw him as a carpenter’s son. People expected the messiah to come in full glory and could not comprehend that the boy they had grown up with could be the messiah or even a prophet. Many a times in our life we fail to receive Christ as we expect His salvation or healing in a glorious form and overlook the daily progress we have made in Christ. In Nazareth, Jesus could not do many miracles because of the lack of faith of his hometown folk. Lack of faith is what stops Jesus from transforming our lives.
Jesus Goes to the Festival of Tabernacles
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want[a] to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him. – John 7:1-5
When it was time for the Festival of Tabernacles , Jesus had planned to stay away as he was aware of the Jewish leaders’ plot to kill him. Jesus’ brothers also knew what would happen to Jesus if he would attend the festival but still they challenged him to attend for the sake of ‘His Ministry’. John in his narration states that Jesus’ own brothers did not believe in him and rather wanted to see their brother caught by the Pharisees for saying something against the Laws.
At The Cross
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[a] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. – John 19:25-27
At the cross when all the disciples, friends and family had abandoned Jesus, only a handful stood by him. Jesus looked at his mother and told his disciple (probably John) to take care of Mary and told Mary to treat the disciple as her son thereby inviting both Mary and the disciple to be part of the spiritual family of Christ And the disciple took Mary into his home. Where were Jesus’ brothers when Jesus was being crucified?
The Cost of Following Jesus
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:57-62
The cost of following Jesus is that we must place Jesus above everything. No one who has doubts is fit for service in the kingdom of God as he does not have faith in God. The above examples of not saying goodbye to one’s family and the statement “Let the dead bury the dead” may seem very harsh and some may think not to take this statement literally, but Jesus wants our love for him to dwarf in comparison our love for our family.
From all these incidents we have to understand that Jesus did not come to create hatred among the family members but to establish His family, in which no hatred or struggles are there but only peace, by experiencing God’s incredible love. He started this on the cross by entrusting His mother in the hands of His true follower. At times we feel that we could follow Jesus if only we had the support of our family but we should remember that even in the life of Jesus his biggest obstacle to his ministry, were members of his own family. Leaving our momentary emotions and embracing Jesus will not drive our loved ones away but bring them closer into the family of Christ.