Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Jesus' Family (John 2)

I suppose these series of posts on family are occasioned by my personal experience in Singapore. Staying in a flat, a kind of Housing Board Development (HDB) flats where most Singaporeans live, I could observe a number of families celebrating their Lunar New Year. I don't pry or invade people's privacy but I encountered many visitors to these flats several times. I met them at the lift, at the staircase or just along the walkway. Obviously, I tried to be friendly, moreover it is Chinese New Year. But regrettably no one even smiled at me or wished me happy new year. But three people at the counters of NTUC and the foodcourt greeted me and then I realised that as staff serving paying customers perhaps they were trained to wish their customers on such auspicious occasions. That means these greetings had some ulterior motives - hoping for good business and because you are spending money in their premises. If you are not any benefit to them, then you will be ignored. Coming back to Jesus' family, it is interesting to see how John's Gospel portrays Jesus' relationship with his mother and brothers. Jesus' first act in the public recorded in John 2 has Jesus attending a wedding with his mother.
Jesus' conversation with his mother tells us a number of things. When Jesus began his public ministry, he was no longer under parental control. As a child and young adult, Jesus submitted to his parents as Luke 2 shows. When Mary asked Jesus to do something about the lack of wine during the wedding, Jesus' response was harsh, especially spoken to his mother: "Woman, what have I do with you?" However one put it according to normal parental-child relationship and cultural norms, the way Jesus spoke to his mother was a bit rude. Why did Jesus do that? Jesus had just launched into his public ministry. He was on mission, sent by God the Father. Nothing will stop Him or hinder Him from obeying the will of the Father in heaven. Not his mother or his brothers, especially when they seemed to interfere in Jesus' mission or obedience to God's will. Again, Jesus' mission takes precedence over family relationships. Interestingly, at the end of the wedding, Jesus moved on to Capernaum with his mothers and brothers and also his disciples (John 2:12). This editorial aside is significant if only for one point. Jesus was with his natural family and his spiritual family (His disciples). His natural family might have abandoned Him as later in John 7, it is said even his brothers did not believe in Jesus. But Jesus never abandoned his mother. At the foot of the cross, He committed his mother to the care of his beloved disciple, John. This is surely significant - Jesus regarded John, his disciple as his true brother and family. His mother is admitted to Jesus' family, his circle of disciples just as in Luke's Acts, Mary was shown to be among the 120 disciples waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

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