Jesus’ Word to His Family
Today, we continue in our series on the statements of Jesus from the Cross.
So far Jesus has
-prayed to Our Heavenly Father;
-answered one of the criminals beside him about his future in paradise
Today we will look at the words Jesus spoke to his family on behalf of his mother.
Before we do this, I want to present a brief survey of the times that Mary is mentioned in the Bible:
- Annunciation, etc
- Refugee status
- Visit to the Temple When Jesus Was 12
- First Miracle of Jesus
- Confusion about Jesus
- Mary’s son
- At the Cross
- After the Ascension
- Annunciation and subsequent events prior to the birth of Jesus
- Birth of Jesus (visits from the shepherds and Magi/Wise Men
- Joseph, Mary and Jesus flee to Egypt as refugees to escape King Herod, later move to Nazareth
- Mary and Joseph lose Jesus when he is 12 and on a trip to Jerusalem. They find him in the Temple
- Mary asks Jesus to fix a problem at a wedding in which the host has run out of This was his first miracle
- Mary and Jesus’ brothers were confused and worried about Jesus and even think that he has gone crazy and they try to take him out of his ministry and bring him home.
- Jesus is referred to as “Mary’s son” which was accurate, but an insulting manner to refer to a man as people were not referred to as the son of their mother, but the son of their father…unless, people didn’t know who the father was, and the woman was thought to have been adulterous.
- Mary is at the cross of Jesus.
- Mary is with the disciples and followers of Jesus after he ascended into heaven.
Tradition tells us that John, the Apostle, took Mary into his care and brought her to Ephesus, and you can visit her home there, today.
I want to say, also, that I am not a Roman Catholic, so I don’t hold to the same teachings and traditions about Mary that they have.
I realize that in our audience today, there may be people who hold Mary in a higher level of respect and esteem than I.
I hope that I am not offensive to you, today. I have tried to write the sermon in a way that would not block us from hearing what I believe God wants us to hear, today, about Jesus.
So, if I sound critical of the Roman Catholic Church, I want you to know that my intention is to NOT criticize.
My position as a pastor is to proclaim God’s Word, and that is what I endeavor to do today and every day.
Now, let us look at the word of God for today.
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
- Mary’s Faith
Mary is sometimes referred to as the first believer of the New Testament.
She was told by the angel Gabriel that she though she was a virgin, she would give birth to a son, the Son of God.
We know from this story that she was possibly afraid, since the angel told her not to be afraid.
She was inquisitive and asked, “how can I have a child if I am a virgin?”
Mary, like all of us would be, was overwhelmed when she saw an angel and yet, she didn’t go into depression or have suicidal thoughts, like one would have if they met a demon.
The gospel writers also made reference to the prophecies in the Old Testament that coincided with Jesus, from his birth to a virgin, to his birthplace in Bethlehem, even his time in Egypt and his move to Nazareth.
Whether Mary understood everything early on or not, we cannot really know, but we know that when she and Joseph lost Jesus in Jerusalem, the last place that they looked was in the Temple.
Mary should have realized that that would be the first place to look.
Mary understood that Jesus had miraculous power and she is the one who asked him to help at a wedding.
That is when he changed the water into wine: his first miracle.
When Jesus was still an infant, Mary and Joseph took him to the Temple to offer the sacrifices that were prescribed in the law.
On that occasion an old man named Simeon came and prophesied about Jesus.
He then said these words to Mary and Joseph:
34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Luke 2:34, 35
Mary carried the words of the angels, shepherds and magi that presented Jesus as Lord.
Yet she also carried the ominous words of this obscure old man, Simeon.
She probably remembered these words when she heard that Jesus was ministering so much that he wasn’t even eating. No mother wants to hear that her son isn’t eating.
My mother seems obsessed with food…she was the first to ever tell me about tofu. I remember eating tofu hotdogs. Yuck.
Later, I acquired a taste for tofu and I recall very proudly calling her on the phone and saying, “Mom, I ate a whole plate of tofu today at a Chinese restaurant.” Her response was, “you aren’t supposed to eat too much tofu.”
She reads a lot
Jesus’ mother heard stories about her son. Some were good stories and they helped confirm the statements of the angels to her. The stories of Jesus healing the lepers and teaching God’s Word eased the sting of insults she had endured for about 30 years as neighbors spoke behind her back, and accused her of having a promiscuous affair prior to her marriage to Joseph.
Most mothers are concerned and worry about their children, but not many have a troubling prophecy in their hearts.
Let’s look at the time when Mary was confused about Jesus:
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 3:20, 21, 31-35
In this story we see that Jesus’ family, including his mother, Mary, thought Jesus was “out of his mind.”
At the same time the Teachers of the Law, who should have recognized Jesus, instead, willingly claimed that God’s Holy Spirit was not with Jesus, but a demonic spirit enabled him to heal.
I find that when there is opposition to ministry, it comes from many different directions, and the pressures of family have caused many people to abandon service to God in order to appeal to the desires of their families.
Parents need to understand that they are called to ministry, also, by giving up their children when God calls them to serve.
I find it so odd that people can give up their children to fight in wars much easier than they can give up their children to serve God.
Anyhow, Jesus’ family, including Mary, misunderstood Jesus and thought he was crazy. Jesus didn’t give into the pressure.
It is interesting to me that he didn’t even leave his meeting to greet his mother.
Jesus didn’t allow his family to prevent him from following his Heavenly Father’s will. Remember, Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Mary was a person of faith, and her faith was tested at times.
Perhaps the greatest test was when Jesus was crucified.
She probably remembered Simeon’s words from about 30 years before:
“A sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Did Mary understand what was happening to Jesus?
I truly don’t know.
What mother could understand seeing her son suffer as Jesus did.
I want to ask the question for us to consider:
What if Mary didn’t understand what was happening to Jesus on the cross? What if she was angry with him, thinking he had been reckless? What if she, too, was wondering why he had saved others, but refused to save himself?
- Jesus’ Words
Jesus’ words teach me something, however
Here Jesus doesn’t interrupt his ministry (and while he hung on the cross, he effected more than any other ministry prior to this or since then),
but while he suffered for our sins, he spoke to his mother.
Family is so important, and even though Jesus didn’t want his mother to suffer, he also couldn’t stop the cross.
As I have mentioned before, Jesus could have died with no words. It was painful to talk. He could have died with just groans and screams.
But, he spoke.
I believe he spoke what was important.
His first word was a prayer to God on behalf of all who were abusing him.
His second was a follow up to that prayer as a criminal beside him repented.
His third word was to his family. It served even as his last will to his family. I want my disciple, John, to take care of my mother.
Jesus, being the first born, took it upon himself to provide for her.
His Words are to his family on this occasion.
I think, sadly, that families don’t always tell each other the right information.
Some couples don’t tell of their love for each other after a few years, assuming that this is understood.
Mothers need to nurture their children and fathers must take part in blessing their children.
Children should communicate love to their parents, too.
Jesus was the busiest at that moment.
He was saving the world!
He took time to speak with his family. To speak on behalf of his mother.
- Significance for Us
- Families are God’s Idea
God instituted families.
That sounds a bit dry, but God established families.
It is His plan for people to go through life in close associations.
One of our greatest responsibilities is to our families.
God is our first priority, but family comes second.
While we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and we are to love our neighbor as our self, but the Scripture teaches this about family:
8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Timothy 5:8
Not everyone here is married, and I’m not only speaking about marriage. But I think all of us have physical family.
- The Balance Between Prioritizing Family and Following Jesus
In some cases our families may have disowned us because we have chosen to follow Jesus.
What can one do when the family tries to stand between us and Jesus?
- submit to the family
- keep it a secret
- submit to Jesus
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
This is a very hard word for many people. People love to say that Jesus was great teacher, but they would like to ignore this teaching.
It seems out of character for Jesus, as he said that the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself”…certainly, our family is as important if not more important and would be included in the term, “neighbor.”
Jesus upheld the commandment to “honor your father and mother,” and he had criticized the Pharisees because they would not take care of their own elderly parents if they had already promised financial resources to God.
So what does Jesus mean here?
One thing to keep in mind is that when Jesus uses the term “hate” it is meant to shock, and it is meant to get our attention. But the actually meaning or level of passion behind the term, hate, in this case is really to “love less.”
Perhaps we’ve all experienced family pressures in which members of our families manipulate us and say, “You love movies more than me,” or “you love being with your friends more than with me,” or “you might as well hate me.”
Jesus says not to put our love for family above our love for Him and for God.
I recall a situation in Kazakhstan in which a Kazakh woman became a believer, and really experienced the love of Jesus. She wanted to tell her husband, immediately, but her women friends at church said, “no, don’t tell him, yet. He might beat you, or take your children away from you and kick you out of the house.”
Each week the new believer said to her friends, “I need to tell my husband about Jesus,” and each week her friends said “not yet.”
One day after more than a month, the ladies called me over to the woman and they told me that she was determined to tell her husband.
The woman looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Jesus saved me, and my life is so much better now. I know that I will not go to hell because of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection. I love my husband. I don’t want him to go to hell, either. I want him to be happy like me. If he beats me, he beats me, but I need to tell him.”
We prayed for this woman and then wondered if we would see her, again.
But later that week we learned that when she told her husband that she had put her faith in Jesus and that her sins were now forgiven, and her guilt was gone and she would be going to heaven, he looked at her and said,
“Really? Can I do this, too?”
That was in 1997, and they are still serving Jesus in their church and even in other countries.
- The Church Family
We have another family, as well: The church family.
I love both my church family and my physical family.
I need to constantly remember that I have a wife or I could call Clover my “bride.” And that the church is called the “Bride of Christ.” So, I need to remember that my bride needs me, and Jesus’ bride needs Him.
I don’t want someone else to be taking care of my bride, and I should only be taking care of Jesus’ bride as he directs me, because the church belongs to Him.
Family is important, and Jesus addressed this briefly among the groans and shrieks of pain on the cross.
Brief as his word was to his family, it was an important word to us as well.
Let us not neglect our families (if we have to be away from them for work, then let us still communicate with them, regularly and accordingly…my son just got married, he doesn’t want me calling him every day).
Let us provide for our families within reason.
Let us love them.