Jesus and… family
A series about what we have to learn from Jesus on a range of subjects. This month, Stephen Tomkins looks at Jesus’ attitude to family
You would assume, wouldn’t you, that Jesus was pretty enthusiastic about the family. Some Churches today put family values – and fighting to defend them – at the very heart of their faith. Many more, throughout the centuries, have nurtured family as a crucial unit of the faith, a vital blessed bond, to which we have no end of obligations and from which we receive no end of benefits. And we see similar attitudes in the Old Testament.
So it is quite a shock to read the Gospels and find Jesus seeming to be relentlessly negative about family and to insist that its bonds should mean nothing to his disciples.
In Mark, Jesus tells his followers that those who have left ‘house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news’, will be richly rewarded. And his attitude to his own family is stunning. His mother and brothers hear about his ministry, think he’s mad and come to bring him home. While they are en route, Jesus says, ‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.’ When they arrive Jesus snubs and disowns them, saying, ‘Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’..
Stephen Tomkins is Editor of Reform
This is an extract from an article published in the September 2023 edition of Reform