Friday, December 13, 2013

Who Is Your Family?

His mother and his mother’s sister stood by Jesus’ cross,
Maria the wife of Clopas, and Maria the Magdalene.
Then Jesus, seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing
there, said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.”
Then, he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother.”
And from that hour, the disciple took her into his own home.

John 19:25-27

This disciple was John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”.  For the rest of Mary’s life, she was cared for by John as his own mother, just as Jesus asked him to do while he hung from nails on the cross.
Some might ask, why didn’t one of Jesus’ brothers take their mother into their home and care for her?  She was not John’s mother, they might say; she was theirs.  But then, another may ask those people, why weren’t Jesus’ brothers at the cross, the way John and Mary were?  Why were Mary’s other sons (and her daughters, too, for that matter) not so concerned about their brother that they were present when he was dying?  The answer to that question is easy.  According to John 7:5, “his brothers did not believe in him.”
Jesus had siblings.  After Jesus was born, Mary gave birth to at least six more children.  The names of four sons, in addition to Jesus, are given to us.  They were, according to Matthew, “James, Joses, Simon, and Judas” (Mt. 13:55).  Mark’s list is almost identical: “James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon” (Mk. 6:3).  Mary also had at least two girls, for the Bible mentions Jesus’ “sisters” (Mt. 13:56; Mk. 6:3).  Jesus may have had more than two sisters, for large families were certainly not unusual at that time, but we are not told how many sisters he had.
I realized tonight, as I sat alone in the dark praying and meditating on the things of God, that the Bible never mentions any reaction from Jesus’ brothers to Jesus’ dying request that his beloved disciple John adopt Mary as his own mother.  And there is a very good reason that the Bible never tells us about that.  Do you know what that reason is?  I do.
The reason that the Bible never says what Jesus’ fleshly kinsmen thought about John adopting Mary is that God didn’t give a hoot about what they thought about it!  Those unbelieving kinsmen of Jesus were, in God’s eyes, no kin to Mary at all, and no kin to Jesus.  It was none of their business what Jesus, John, and Mary decided to do about Mary’s living arrangements because they were discussing family business about which outsiders had no right to an opinion.  Jesus and John were two brothers, discussing what to do with their mother.  John was Mary’s son, and Mary was John’s mother.  Their common faith in Jesus made it that way.
When he was preaching one day, Jesus asked the people this question, “Who is my mother?  And who are my brothers?”  Then, “extending his hand toward his disciples,” Jesus answered the question for them: “Here are my mother and my brothers.  Whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt. 12:48-50).  And if you do not feel, “with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength” the same way Jesus feels, there is sin in your soul, and you do not know God.  Everybody who knows God thinks and feels just like Jesus, for Jesus was God’s messenger.  He only said what the Father gave him to say.  Jesus did not invent the idea that those who hear and obey God belong to Jesus’ family; Jesus got that idea from his Father in heaven!
We know how Jesus answered the question, “Who is my family?”  Now, how do you answer it?


A most frightening aspect of this culture’s rejection of Jesus is the effect that the absence of the gospel is having on the spirits of young people.  The gospel of Christ is of such power that it has a softening influence on the hearts of all who hear it, even on those who do not respond in faith, and everyone is blessed in a society where the gospel is preached, not just believers.  But in cultures where the gospel is suppressed, there is nothing to take its place, and young people are left to grow up without a godly conscience, and without a true sense of good and evil.

We are seeing in some places now the awful effects of keeping children from the gospel.  This generation, with its pseudo-sophistication and pride, is beginning to pay the price for its foolish insistence that to deny children the gospel is the way to true freedom, and for striving to make this culture godless.  Nothing in human society strikes me as being quite as dreadful as the roving packs of young men in the streets now, with no conscience, attacking at random and without even the motivation of robbery.  The pain they inflict is just for kicks.  That is but one result of keeping the young from the influence of the saving gospel of Christ.

To be godless is to be merciless, for God is merciful.  To be godless is to have no moral boundaries, for God is good.  To be godless is to be beastly, driven by the base appetites of the flesh, for God is holy in all His ways.  To be godless is to be perverse in judgment, because God is wise and just.  To be godless is to have no strength or will to resist and to overcome the dark spirits in this world, for God is full of power.

Teach your children the stories that God has provided for us in the Bible!  Don’t make excuses.  Do it!  Are you too busy to save your own child?

The whole world has benefitted from the influence of the gospel of Jesus Christ because our forebears made sure the gospel was known, in their homes and beyond.  They understood the value of the gospel and yielded to the power of its influence.  They knew that the message of the gospel would restrain the baser aspects of human nature.  If we would be wise, we will not take that precious influence for granted.

If parents fail to acquaint their children with the gospel, if they fail to walk in its light so that the young can become acquainted with the feelings and the wisdom of the gospel, what will keep the young from being godless?  And then, when those godless little children mature and begin living like animals, with no sense of shame and no fear of God, who will control them?