© 2008 by Deidre Campbell-Jones
JUNE Theme: Fathers
Our Family: Matthew 12:46-50
His Family: Matthew 19:29
Last month our theme was Mothers. And I missed the last week of the month. This month our theme will be fathers. And so I think a good segue between these separate three weeks of lessons about mothers and fathers, is “family.”
Jesus had a family just like us. He was the first born amongst His siblings – brothers and sisters. He had a mother and a father who cared about him (Luke 2:48b); raised him up in the ways of the family; and had certain disciplinary expectations of him. (Luke 2:41-49). And by the time He was a teenager he too had parents who didn’t understand him! (Luke 2:50)
Jesus, just like us had to do things for his mother that he didn’t want to do (John 2:1-10); He had to work in His father’s business even though He had a different vocation (Matthew 13:55 & Mark 6:3a) and was at odds with his family from time to time (Mark 6:3b). But when push came to shove, they loved Him and supported Him none-the-less. (Acts 1:14)
Jesus understood the importance of family, but He recognized both the physical family and the spiritual family.
When Jesus was on the cross in the midst of His “passion” – the crucifixion, He took the time to acknowledge the importance of family. There He noticed the woman who had been blessed to be His earthly mother, and also His Aunt, both standing by the cross. I am sure Mary had to have been weeping and lamenting the fate of her son. There also was the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 19:25-27) standing by and when Jesus saw them both He told them – “woman here is your son; behold here is your mother,” And from that same hour the disciple took Mary as his own mother and cared for her.
It’s easy not to think much about Jesus’ family – but when you do, you could imagine they were close. But whether they were or not, there is that closeness of family that God wants with us through Jesus.
At one time, Jesus went up to a mountain to pray. Afterward he called to himself His many, many disciples and chose the twelve who would be His Apostles: “And Simon he surnamed Peter; And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.” (Mark 3:16-19)
Now when the multitudes heard He was there they pressed in on Him for healing and to hear His teaching so much that Jesus and the twelve disciples could not even eat. Soon someone told Jesus that His mother and His brothers were outside seeking to speak with Him. “And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” Mark 3:33-35
Jesus wants us to recognize that once we are adopted as sons and daughters into the family of God, that we have a new family that we must love and care for.
The commandment to honor our mothers and fathers never comes to an end even though our relationship with them must change. We are to honor mother and father that our days may be long upon this earth – and if those days are long – then we must continue to give our parents honor through out all of those days.
But no matter how long our days become upon this Earth, once we come to Christ, we must come to him honoring Him even more than the family we’ve been commanded to give honor to. Luke 14:26 says, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
Let me tell you a true story – my husband and I needed to go pick up my car that was in the shop and for some reason, we couldn’t take our 4 year old son along with us. So, we asked our neighbor to watch him for about 20 minutes. Now, our neighbor John is a 50-something bachelor, divorced with two grown children and no grandchildren. He has a pool table and an arcade golf game in his rec room so we figured both he and our son would be cool for this short amount of time.
Well, from nowhere, John produced a basket of wooden building blocks and we left them facing off over the family room ottoman, getting ready to build – they were fine. My husband and I did what we had to do, came back, got our kid and it all worked out.
Weeks later John told me that once we were gone and they were quietly focused on building a tall tower, my son stopped and asked John, “who is more important, your family or God?” And John, being shocked by the question and not wanting to risk accidentally trampling on what we might be teaching him decided to give him what he called a “politically correct” answer and replied, “Well, I figure since I love God and I love my family and God gave me my family that I love them pretty much about the same.”
My son apparently was not satisfied with that answer and said, “No, who do you love more?” John stammered, now a little more uncomfortable and said, “Well, I guess I’m not sure really sure how to explain it to you.” And my son, still not satisfied, could only let John off the hook a little and answered, “But, you do know what the right answer is, don’t you?”
John said He struggled to respond because, indeed he had been wrestling with this very same question in his heart just recently and he was so amazed that God had spoken to him through our little son.
The truth is God does want us to love Him more than we love our families. He wants us to trust Him more than we trust our families. And in doing so we entrust our care and concern for our families over to Him.
There is a woman I know who looks like she is the best example on Earth as to how to love the Lord our God "with all your heart and all your soul and all your might" – Deuteronomy 6:5. For the time that I have known her, it has been obvious that she fears no thing except God. She is a shining example of the Proverbs 31 “virtuous woman,” and her husband is a strong man of God.
And this dear woman is ill. My pastor’s wife mentioned that this was the example of living for Christ that was void of being afraid to die. But the truth is that this dear woman’s heart is indeed fearful about leaving her wonderful family. She is clinging to the promises of God and her knowledge of the word with the hope of remaining on this Earth longer, for her family.
But if she would release that desire unto the Lord, ready and willing to let them go and be with the Lord, then would her days be prolonged upon this Earth.*
Abraham in his old age was promised a son – and he was promised a son who’s generations would be greater than the stars in the sky or the sand by the seas. Isaac was that son of promise. And when Isaac was a boy, God told Abraham to take his son and offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham was supposed to kill his son, the son whom he loved, before that promise was fulfilled. And though distraught, I’m sure; Abraham was willing to be obedient and faithful in doing it. The knife was raised over his son lying on the altar, and an angel of the Lord had to shout Abraham’s name twice because he was about to plunge that knife into his son.
Sometimes we have to give up family, to receive family. Job gave up all his family – wife, children and all he had including his own health – but he never cursed God. He was rewarded with a double portion of blessings and family restored to him.
Family matters – and the love we give them matters. But the love we have for God matters more. John 3:16 is such a common verse: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”
God loved us enough to give His only begotten Son so that we could have life. It is the love that makes a difference in regards to life – the life we live now and the life we will live for eternity. And so what family are we willing to give in order to have life? It is the willingness – the loving, trusting willingness to trust God that completely, and that if we do, God will honor us with life everlasting and life more abundantly for all our generations.
Power, love & peace - ya'll!
(*) For clarification, drop note in the comments.