Thursday, December 29, 2022
Reader: “Who is my mother?”
Response: “Who are my brothers?”
Scripture: Matthew 12:46-50, John 7:1-5
As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to you.”
Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”
After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death.But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.
Have you ever thought what it might have been like to have Jesus as a son or a big brother? What was it like for Mary and Joseph to parent this one-of-a-kind son? How was he treated compared to his other brothers and sisters? Did you ever have to correct him? It is not hard to read some tension into the family interaction you just read. Some commentators read the circumstance of Mary and the arrival of his brothers as an effort to bring Jesus back home to Nazareth because they thought he had “gone off the rails” and was losing it! We can’t help but notice Jesus’ rather blunt response in trying to help them understand his mission to the world. They didn’t. Can we say, “Awkward?”
In the Johnine pericope it appears that it was very common knowledge that his brothers were not believers at this point. You can also read a “dig” in their comments. It is one of the rare places in all of Scripture where you see Jesus’ family react to him personally. Growing up with someone who was sinless and perfect in every way would be something we cannot imagine. But I can easily imagine it would bring tension. A sibling would be continually reminded of an impossible standard to match thanks to your big brother.
Yet how many people today believe if they just do enough good and live their best life, they will come out OK in the end. God will be pleased. Not so! Jesus’ brothers were reminded daily, monthly, and yearly that perfection was God’s standard . . . and their brother was doing it . . . and he claimed to be God no less!
Following the resurrection at least two of his brothers believed in him as truly the Son of God, the Messiah. The New Testament writers of the books of Jude and James were those two other sons of Mary and Joseph. Interestingly, Jude refers to himself as a “slave of Jesus Christ and brother of James” and James refers to himself as “a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” They both expressed their relation to their earthly brother in heavenly, Messianic terms, the Christ. The both became leaders in the early church.
We too have the privilege of describing our relation to Jesus as our brother through his adoption of us as brothers and sisters. Our big Brother has set us free from having to perfect the law. Along with the magi, we too have been guided to the “perfect light,” Jesus, the perfect Light of the world.
Music: “Kings of the Orient” Robert Shaw Chorale
Prayer:O God, may you be merciful and bless us; may your face smile with favor on us. May your ways be known throughout the earth, your saving power among all people everywhere. Along with the magi, may the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you. Let the whole world sing for joy, because you govern the nations with justice and guide the people of the whole world. May the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you. Then the earth will yield its harvests, and God, our God, will richly bless us. Yes, God, you will bless us, and people all over the world will fear you, one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen. ―adapted from Psalm 67 Daniel Sharp