Our great Savior’s desire and intention for our marriages, families and extended families is that they would be built on a solid foundation that can weather every storm that comes our way. He has made it clear that the only way to build such a foundation is to hear His every word and act on or obey His every word. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them…” Matthew 7:24-27.
4. While Jesus created the family unit and is highly committed to it, and while He commanded us to honor our parents, and love our spouses and children, allegiance to Him must always supersede allegiance to our parents or spouses or children.
A. Allegiance to Parents:
Matthew 15:4 “For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.”
Matthew 19:19 ”HONOR YOUR MOTHER AND FATHER;….” (cf. Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20)
Jesus walked this out with His parents and later His mother; and He clearly expected it of all people. There comes a point where we as adults need no longer obey our parents. But per the fourth of the ten commandments, there never comes a point wherein we stop honoring them. Often in scripture the honoring of parents, widows and elders while they are alive has a financial component to it. The reason Jesus quoted this commandment to the Pharisees and Scribes is because they had developed a theology/tradition that enabled them and other Jews to escape the responsibility to spend their own money on their parents' care (see Matthew 15:5,6). In I Timothy 5:3 Paul commands Timothy to make sure certain widows who meet the Biblical qualifications are honored (or cared for materially/financially). In I Timothy 5:17 Paul states that "The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching." Here again he is speaking to financial/material compensation.
B. Allegiance to Spouses:
Matthew 19:5,6 “and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (cf. Matthew 5:31,32).
Marriage in Jesus’s eyes is a total leaving of one’s parents (physically, emotionally, etc); and a total cleaving to or commitment to oneness with our spouse (sexually, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, etc.). This was always God’s intention from the very beginning.
C. Allegiance to Jesus:
Matthew. 4:21,22 “Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.”
The twelve disciples would have never become His disciples had they not been willing to put their new relationship with Jesus above their relationships with their earthly fathers. Jesus clearly saw that they were with their father, and in business with their father. He called them anyway, expecting a decisive response.
Matthew 8:21,22 “Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” (cf. Luke 9:59-62)
When it comes to following Jesus He always comes first. Our flesh is easily distracted with lesser things. No parent has ever experienced their own burial. The honor Jesus spoke of always pertained to relating to them while they were living, not when they were dead. This does not mean Jesus does not care about proper burials or memorials. The issue with this man was he was not taking Jesus’s call to discipleship seriously, and the specific excuse he made had to be dealt with decisively.
Matthew 10:37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
Jesus expects us to love our parents and our children. But they did not create us. Nor did they die for us. Nor does our very breath come from them. So He clearly is worthy of much more love and devotion than they are. And judging by how often He speaks to this fleshly tendency we have to put family before Him, the tendency must be deeply rooted.
In the kingdom of God, which exceeds the church and culture, if we are not careful we can worship our families instead of worshipping Jesus, who created marriage and families. He alone can sustain them and hold them together and help us build a foundation of righteousness and truth in our marriage and family relationships. But devotion and obedience to Jesus must come first in helping us to prioritize our time, emotions and resources.
Luke 14:25-27 “Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
One of the greatest deterrents or distractions to truly following Jesus is inordinate affection or inordinate allegiance to family or extended family members. (Inordinate is defined by Noah Webster as: “Irregular, disorderly; excessive; immoderate; not limited to rules prescribed, or to usual bounds; as an inordinate love of the world; inordinate desire of fame”). This usually is a learned behavior and often reinforced by a parent or grandparent. We disciples of Jesus need to be alert to this, allowing the Holy Spirit to examine and assess our hearts and motives. As we wait upon Him to speak to our hearts, we will find His will and way for our family relationships.
Divine order in the home enabled by the Holy Spirit always results in divine blessings in our homes and on our families.
5. Disciples of Jesus who put Jesus first over family will be greatly rewarded in this life and in the life to come.
Matthew 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.”
Jesus knows we need some encouragement in this straightforward call of His to true discipleship, so He mercifully promises a multiplication of blessing and reward to those who truly follow Him. This is a wonderful promise for those who at least temporarily because of their devotion to Christ have been estranged from family members.
Mark 10:29, 30 “Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mother and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” (cf. Luke 18:28-30)
When we deny ourselves the fleshly right and tendency to cling to and place security and hope in a family member, or extended family, Jesus gives us way beyond what we could have ever imagined first in terms of relational intimacy with Him. Then in His timing and way, He will rightly connect us to those He has joined us with in our families. He wants us to have relational intimacy with them. But it can only come in and through Him and according to His way.
Father, please increase our devotion to Your Blessed Son, and show us how to participate with You in building a strong foundation in our marriages and families for Your glory in Jesus’s name. Amen.