Jesus and the Ruler
(Matthew 12.22-32; Luke 11.14-23; 12.10)
20Jesus went back home, and once again such a large crowd gathered that there was no chance even to eat. 21When Jesus' family heard what he was doing, they thought he was crazy and went to get him under control.
22 Some teachers of the Law of Moses came from Jerusalem and said, “This man is under the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons! He is even forcing out demons with the help of Beelzebul.”
23Jesus told the people to gather around him. Then he spoke to them in riddles and said:
How can Satan force himself out? 24A nation whose people fight each other won't last very long. 25And a family that fights won't last long either. 26So if Satan fights against himself, that will be the end of him.
27How can anyone break into the house of a strong man and steal his things, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can take everything.
28I promise you that any of the sinful things you say or do can be forgiven, no matter how terrible those things are. 29 But if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you can never be forgiven. That sin will be held against you forever.
30Jesus said this because the people were saying that he had an evil spirit in him.
Jesus' Mother and Brothers
(Matthew 12.46-50; Luke 8.19-21)
31Jesus' mother and brothers came and stood outside. Then they sent someone with a message for him to come out to them. 32The crowd sitting around Jesus told him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside and want to see you.”
33Jesus asked, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” 34Then he looked at the people sitting around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 35Anyone who obeys God is my brother or sister or mother.”
Jesus seems awfully hard on his family in this text. Of course, when your mother and brothers are calling you the instrument of Satan, it might put a strain on the relationship.
We say that “blood is thicker than water” by which we mean that family is the most important relationship of our lives. That might depend upon the quality of one’s family. In my case, the saying seems appropriate, but in families where there has been abuse and abandonment, it might ring a little hollow.
Some claim that the original rendering of the proverb derives from an ancient rabbinic source – “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the womb,” which puts a decidedly different spin on things. It certainly seems to move closer to the intent of Jesus. More than water, even of the amniotic variety, it is the covenant connection with God’s Holy Spirit that is of eternal significance.
We all come into the family of God by adoption and not by blood. No one is born into this family. I find it interesting that even in Jesus’ genealogy (charted for us in the first chapter of Matthew’s gospel) we see his heritage traced through Joseph and not through Mary. You will remember that Matthew takes pains in that same chapter to show how Joseph had nothing to do with the conception of Jesus. Jesus was inserted into this family for this purpose, by the deliberate will of God, and the same is true of us.
This doesn’t mean that blood doesn’t matter. The epistles are full of exhortation toward good and healthy family life. Jesus himself sustained relationship with his blood relatives (John 19:26,27). But in the end we are justified, not by our connection to our parents, but by our connection to God’s Spirit.
Dear Lord, Thank you for adopting me into your family. I understand that I have no blood right to your affection and grace. I am grateful that your love is offered deliberately by choice. I choose to return that love to you. Help me to lead my family to this same faith. Amen