The Last Word on Family

. 4 min read

Feb 2018, Christ Mountain Top
to Worship, Psalm 22.23-31
Genesis 17.1-7, 15-16
John 19.16-27

introductory matters:
1. Family and Faith
      Family first
      Jesus provides for his mother’s future
needs …
            “honor your father and your mother”
Exodus 20
      BUT …
      Jesus’ relationship with his family was
complicated (like ours!) and he also had a new view of what family was all
      Matthew 12:48-50 – “Who is my mother,
and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my
Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
      Luke 14:26 
Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and
children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my
      JOHN’s mother, Salome, was present at the
foot of the cross, according to Mark’s passion account. So, she hears this too!
(Mark 15.40, Scroggie, in section on 7 last words)
2. Who is Mary?

      “mother of our Lord” (from Elizabeth in
Luke 2)

      “theotokos” (Orthodox, God-bearer)
      Hail Mary prayer (straight from Scripture
in Luke’s gospel)
            Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord
is with thee.
            Blessed art thou among women,
            and blessed is the fruit of thy
womb, Jesus
      BUT …
      She is also a member of the church, a
unique member, but nothing without the full body. As a member of the church she
finds herself, like us, in the household of the beloved disciple, in the
community of God’s Beloved.
      Dante calls her “Virgin Mother, daughter
of thy Son” (Hauerwas, 49). Ironic, and true. In John’s gospel, Jesus is
clearly aware of his identity. He is the Word, who is God and who is with God
from the beginning. He is, in multiple statements, “I AM,” a direct claim to
identity as Yahweh, the God of Israel. For example, “before Abraham was, I AM.”
Woman, here is your son…. Here is your mother (John 19:26-27).
Brown: Neither John nor Mary are named in the entire gospel (Bruner, 1105).
      John, always “the beloved disciple”. A way
of referring to him AND a way of including us in the story. We, too, are God’s
      In John’s gospel, Mary is simply “his
mother.” But when Jesus addresses her, it is not as “mother” but as “woman”,
both here and in an earlier story. “Woman, what concern is that to you and me?”
It is the same way he addresses the Samaritan woman whom he meets by a well
(the ancient watering hole – and a site where many of the Hebrew fathers and
mothers met!). “Woman, believe me,” he says. It is the same way he addresses a
woman caught in adultery. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
And it is the way he addresses Mary Magdalene at his tomb on Easter morning,
“Woman, why are you weeping?” John 2.4, 4.21, 8.10, 20.15
of the point for John’s gospel, in leaving these main characters completely
nameless, is to identify them in relationship to Jesus. That’s all that
matters. One is Jesus’ mother. That is more important than her name. The other
is Jesus’ beloved. That is more important than his name. All that matters is
our relationship with Jesus. All that matters is being related to Jesus.
      And, here, in this last word on family,
Jesus declares that they are related to each other, they are family, precisely
because they are related to Jesus. It doesn’t matter that John’s bio-mom is
there. Mary is his mom through Jesus. It doesn’t matter that Jesus has other
brothers named in the gospel, presumably Mary’s sons as well. John is her son
through Jesus.
last will and testament on family is not about our nuclear families but about
the family of God. It is the answer to his prayer in John 17:20-23:
ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe
in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me
and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you
have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they
may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become
completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved
them even as you have loved me.
are family –
      With those that we can’t stand personally
      With those against whom we bear some level
of prejudice
      With those in another nation whose
government may be in conflict with ours
      With those with whom we disagree, even on
matters of faith and practice – even on matters of human sexuality (as
currently being discussed in the UMC).
      Because Jesus says, “behold your mother,
behold your son.” 
      About the unity of the church.
are family –
our calling is to build family and include in the family ALL sisters and
brothers, all God’s children, particularly those most in need of such a family
– those whose personal family lives are formed by separation rather than
connection – because of divorce, addiction, family conflict, mental health.
      We’re a church that welcomes children by
adoption and foster care. We’re a church that welcomes those who are experiencing
divorce. We’re a church that welcomes those in recovery or off the wagon.
Because Jesus says, “behold your mother, behold your son.”  

      About the mission of the church