Enjoy Life, Enjoy God

Dale Patterson


July 19, 2010


Jesus redefines for us the word, "family." We are at risk today in the church of spiritualizing this word--church is to be family. Jesus in his great prayer and teaching (Chapters 15-17) begins to redefine the word family. But I suspect that we resist the implications.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearly by, he said to her, "Woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." For that time on this disciple took her into his home. - John 19: 25-27 TNIV

Jesus redefines "family" for his mother. We have turned the concept into an idea, rather than an in-the-flesh reality. As in, the church isn't so much real people, but the idea of Christians together, as opposed to specific Christians. This is only exaggerated by consumerism and church shopping. But the promises, the commitments we make, are not simply to the idea of church and Christians, but to real flesh and blood Christians. Elsewhere Jesus says (Luke 12:49f; Matthew 10:37) that to follow him is to commit to one another in the faith, maybe more so than flesh and blood family.
Jesus redefines Mary's family. When we marry another person, we're not promising to maintain the idea of marriage, but a real person, one's spouse. To follow Christ is not to commit to fellow Christians, but to actual human beings, people with real names. That's a challenging redefinition. Yet Jesus challenged his mother, and us, even as he died on the cross.

Dale Patterson