Dear Readers: Our loving Savior, Jesus specializes in getting at the roots of things and in building strong foundations that can weather any storm in our marriages and families. His every word deserves our focused attention and meditation so that by the Holy Spirit’s illumination and power we can do marriage and family in a way that pleases Him and satisfies us.
INTRODUCTION - God’s primary instruments to bless the nations and peoples of the earth are in order of creation:
First, marriage and the family;
Second, The nation/people of Israel; and
Third, the church.
The effectiveness of Israel & the Church in fulfilling their God given purpose on the earth will depend in large part on how healthy and vibrant the marriages and families are within them.
Everything in God’s created universe rides on the backs of marriages. Jesus has much to say about marriage and the family. After all He created it (“All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 3:3). And every family's only hope to be held together in truth is to be held together through Him (“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”) Col. 1:17).
Here are some principles and truths from Jesus’s life and ministry and teachings that I trust will help each of us repair and strengthen the foundations of our marriages and families.
1. Jesus Christ grew up in a traditional nuclear family with a mother and father, brothers and sisters. He was the oldest of at least seven siblings. His father was a carpenter, and Jesus evidently learned his trade before He started His ministry.
Matthew. 13:55-58 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.”
Jesus Christ’s family was well known. He was known as part of that family. In fact it was His being so well known as part of that family, that was a stumbling block to many. You see Jesus’s family was a normal, probably lower to middle class family. Thus in the minds of Jesus’s critics, it was not the kind of family that the Messiah would come from – if He would even come from a human family in the first place. He had to work hard as a carpenter for some period of years. Surely the Messiah would not have to do such menial work would He?
Consider: If God the Father wanted His Son to be known and embraced, why didn’t He have Him enter the world in a more obvious pronounced way? Could one of the reasons possibly be because of how invested God is in families? Could another reason be so that Jesus as a fully human child and young man could first hand experience the challenges the average family experiences because of sin, Satan and the corrupting influence of the world, not to mention the normal responsibilities and challenges of life? Could it be that we needed a model of One who consistently honored and cared for His family members, but who never allowed His commitment to family or feelings about family to hinder or get in the way of His devotion to God and His kingdom?
It is greatly to our advantage that Jesus/God experienced this as a fully human male.
Mark 6:3-6 “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary….”
In this very similar passage to the one above, Jesus is actually referred to as a carpenter Himself, having obviously learned the trade from his father, being the oldest son – the first born.
I find it interesting that when the Triune Living God decided to personally solve the crisis of sin and all of its consequences and damage, that He chose to be born into and raised in a nuclear family. Easily God could have limited that to merely a set of parents who found “favor with God”. But instead He also chose to give His Son the human experience of growing up with brothers and sisters.
2. Jesus honored His parents and submitted to their authority throughout His days under their roof. He honored His mother until His last dying breath.
Luke 2:51 “And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; …”
Another reason why Jesus grew up in a nuclear family is so He could model for children how to respond to their parents’ instruction, discipline and direction/commands. It appears that Joseph, Mary’s husband and Jesus’s earthly father (so to speak) had passed away by the time Jesus started His ministry. But evidently Joseph was in the home for much of Jesus’s growing up years.
John 2:1-8 “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him.”
Jesus at first seems to be disrespectful or put out with His mother Mary, but moments later He responds to her FYI re: the wine challenged wedding, which shows He did not diss her at all. It appears to be more a matter of timing.
John 19:26,27 “When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.”
It is fascinating that Jesus had such strength, focus and heart to care for His mother after receiving horrible beatings, food and water deprivation, scourging and finally crucifixion. Despite all of that He discerned that John (His disciple) was more prepared and disposed to effectively care for His mother than his five brothers and two sisters were. It is very likely that was because up to this point, they had all rejected Him. None of them were at the foot of the cross, where both John and Mary stood. It is very significant John and Mary were there evidently standing side by side, very likely with John’s arm around Mary’s trembling shoulders.
Jesus knew that Mary needed to be cared for by someone who would not only attend to her physical needs, but also her spiritual. This gives us a window into Jesus’s high value of spiritual family along with one’s physical/biological family.
3. Because Jesus experienced rejection and mistreatment from His brothers/siblings; He can sympathize with those of us who have experienced the same from ours.
Some of Jesus’s own family members became very fruitful members of Christ’s church in the early days of the first century church. His mother was actively involved judging from Acts 1:14. His brother James was one of the key leaders in the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18). His brother Jude (Matthew and Mark call him Judas, but some scholars believe because of Judas the traitor, he was nicknamed “Jude” – see Matthew 13:55,56 & Mark 6:3) most likely wrote one of our epistles as did his brother James.
But in the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, His family, especially His brothers and sisters rejected His claim to deity and to being the long awaited Messiah as seen in the following two passages.
Psalm 69:8,9 “I have become estranged from my brothers And an alien to my mother’s sons. For zeal for Your house has consumed me, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.”
John 2:17 “His disciples remembered that is was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.”
Jesus’s zeal and passion for His Father’s house and the purity of the worship therein exposed His siblings hardness of heart and unbelief as they mistook His zeal for mental instability or worse.
John 7:2-7 “Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. “For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” For not even His brothers were believing in Him. So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. ”The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.”
Mark 6:4"A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household."
Jesus had lived a sinless life in front of and beside His brothers and sisters for up to 30 years. They had to have noticed that His responses and reactions to life were quite different from their own. They had to notice again the consistent zeal He had for God the Father, the personal commitment He had to prayer, His love for the scriptures, His sincere honor of their parents, His commitment to corporate worship, etc. But because their hearts were hardened, and because they feared man more than God, they couldn’t accept that He was the long awaited Messiah. At least not yet.
It is not uncommon for siblings who do not know and follow Jesus, and who are thus slaves to sin and Satan (see John 8) to unleash some of their anger and angst towards their sibling who knows and is trying to follow Jesus. It can be brutal, violent and demonic at times. Jesus experienced that, and now at the right hand of the Father He flows with compassion and understanding towards those of you who are presently in this grievous situation.
Hebrews 2:17,18 “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
Hebrews 4:15 says of Jesus: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
What a great comfort it is to know our Lord experienced so much misunderstanding, rejection and unrighteous judgment from his family members. He knows our grief and sorrow and can be trusted to help us walk through it all as He did.
Note: Part II, III and IV to come in the days ahead. God bless you richly today!