Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The True Family of Jesus

"He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (Luke 8:21).

Luke 8:19 says that “Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd.” This reference to Jesus’ brothers, along with other passages that speak of His brothers and sisters, has occasioned a good deal of debate in the church.

Roman Catholic theology is committed to the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. Thus, Roman Catholic exegetes have proposed two explanations for Jesus’ “brothers.” The first is the suggestion that Joseph had been married previously and thus these were half-brothers. Yet, there is not a shred of New Testament or early church evidence for this, or that he married Mary in his old age.

The second suggestion comes from the fact that the words brother and sister can sometimes by extension refer to cousins, so that it was actually Jesus’ cousins that are referred to here. Again, there is no foundation for this, and why would cousins be accompanying Mary?

Unfortunately, much of Roman Catholic moral theology accepts the notion that sexual relations are always tainted by sin, even within marriage, and even when children are the result. Thus, since they believe Mary was sinless, they also maintain she could never have enjoyed marital relations with Joseph. This, of course, involves a frightful distortion of the biblical view of the goodness and sanctity of marriage and of marital relations.

Let’s turn to what the passage actually addresses. When Jesus became aware that His natural family was in the crowd, He told the crowd that His true relatives are those who obey God’s Word. It is not the natural family that will inherit the kingdom, but the spiritual family.

We often hear about the universal Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. There is a limited sense in which this is true by creation (Acts 17:28), but in terms of redemption, only those adopted into God’s new family are His children and Jesus’ true brothers and sisters.

The spiritual family of Christ, known through the church, is frequently seen as a broken, disgruntled family. Each believer is charged with the work of an ambassador, reconciling members one to another in love. Assume more personal responsibility to promote love of the brethren today.