By Pastor Jeff Jacobs
Unity Lutheran Parish – St. Paul, Saetersdal and St. Matthew’s, Granger
We usually consider the Bible very family oriented. God is our Father, and we are sisters and brothers in Christ’s family. The first of the Ten Commandments dealing with human relationships is “Honor your father and your mother.” Jesus welcomed children and defended marriage in a culture where divorce left women destitute.
Early on, however, Jesus’ ministry began causing uproar, and in Mark 3:21 we read, “When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’” Yet when his mother and brothers called for Jesus, his response – “Who are my mother and my brothers?” (Mark 3:33) – was shockingly dismissive.
In that era, “family values” were indeed supreme. One’s first duty was to father and mother, and loyalty to the family was the primary obligation. You served family needs first, and the needs of others were not your concern – their own families should take care of them. To modify the old adage, “Charity begins at home, and stops there, too!”
Jesus does not deny “family values” – he expands them. God is not Father of a select group, but all peoples, and Christ came not only to redeem Israel, but the entire world. In God’s family our care is no longer exclusive to parents or siblings, but serves everyone regardless of race, class or other distinction.
We’ve recently observed Mother’s and Father’s Days, and of course we’ll have natural affinity for parents and others who are close in our lives. But as children of one heavenly Father, we are also called to expand our love to widows and orphans, the poor and outcast and marginalized, in sign of God’s generous care for all people, for in Christ’s family we recognize, as Jesus said, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)