Wednesday, July 11
Scripture Reading—John 7:1-9
Families are interesting. For many people, talk of family calls forth warm feelings of a place where each member is loved without condition, where you are supported through thick and thin, and where each member is encouraged to discover their innate abilities and gifts and live freely into them. For some people, families are places of conflict, instability, perhaps even abandonment, abuse, or violence. And for many, it’s somewhere in between the two extremes. Families often unconsciously assign roles to each member, expecting each member to play that role to keep harmony in the system. Sometimes one’s role is determined by order of birth. First born children are often leaders. Middle children are sometime peacemakers. The youngest are sometimes rebels. It’s comforting to know that Jesus was born into an earthly family, raised by earthly parents with brothers and sisters. It’s hard to know for sure what Jesus’ role was in his family. We could assume that being the eldest son, the others looked up to him to assure the family’s honor in the community. If Joseph had died, as many people assume, then perhaps Jesus’ siblings and mother expected that he would not only lead them, but provide and care for them. They may have respected his religious devotion and perhaps even his sense of calling to do something for God and God’s people. They would have been proud if he’d demonstrated his ability to lead not only the family, but the whole nation of Israel to freedom from Roman oppression. In this passage, we get a glimpse into the conflict of expectations Jesus experienced with his family and his understanding of God’s call. They wanted him to make a public show of his special abilities. “ . . . no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret.” (vs. 4) The problem was, their understanding of Jesus was no more profound than that of the crowds. John says they didn’t believe in him. Maybe they wanted to and hoped that some grand display of divine power would help them believe, but even Jesus’ family didn’t understand the secret ambition in his heart—to demonstrate God's glory to the world through his death on the cross. Thankfully, Jesus was strong enough to persist in being the person he believed God wanted him to be rather than accepting his family’s definition of who they wanted him to be. And those of us who seek to follow Jesus can only pray that God will help us to let our lives be defined by our understanding of God’s will for our lives, no matter how much our families may mean to us.
Thought for the day: We often face a great challenge as we seek to give our families the respect, loyalty and devotion they rightly deserve and at the same time, discerning, following, and obeying God’s call on our lives.
Prayer: O God, thank you for our families where we are nurtured, supported, and given a place of acceptance and belonging. Bless especially those who do not have the benefit of such a family. And regardless of how much our families mean to us, help us to have the strength we see in Jesus to seek and follow your call on our lives, even when those closest to us may not completely understand. Amen.