Blood is not thicker than water- Matthew 12:46-50
Matthew Chapter 11 and 12 which speak of the rejection of Jesus is now winding down. The attacks on Jesus have been relentless with its flash point in verse 31. The Jewish religious leadership crossed the line when they eluded that his powers stemmed from Beelzebul, thus blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.
The passage must be seen in the larger context of the rejection of Jesus in Galilee This rejection comes from a number of quarters; the Jewish leaders, the disciples of John the Baptist, the people and in the Gospel of Mark, even His own family. Yet peppered in all this is the fact that the rejection of Jesus was not universal for many followed Him making it at times essential to find refuge in a boat or in His house.
Surely all these attacks were too much for his mother and brothers to bear, they who loved Jesus. They now arrive at the place where he was in order to “speak with him.” One can only assume which way that conversation would go down. In order to protect him from those who seek to destroy him and tarnish his reputation his mother and brothers land up with what most certainly seems to be a message to ‘back off a bit’.
Jesus on the other hand now takes relationship one notch higher. While there is no disrespect meant to his mother and brothers he redefines relationships in the kingdom as that which goes beyond blood. The true family of Jesus are those who do the will of the Father in heaven. So what was the point of this pericope at the end of two chapters that are mired in controversial attacks on Jesus?
The Gospel of Matthew was written at a time when the Church was experiencing great persecution. The Gospel of Matthew was written to equip such Christians to stand faithful in the face of persecution while they continued to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus.
The early Christians, like Jesus and His disciples, may have lost mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and houses and fields for the sake of the Good News and may have felt themselves under threat from powers and principalities as He was. In redefining relationships as those that go beyond blood, Jesus throws his arms open to all who wish to be his brother. But just as a blood relative can’t claim privileges nor can a disciple who lives his faith merely by professing to be a Christian. Doing God’s will is a pre-requisite to sharing in the bond of brother hood with Jesus
The central saying, “who are my mother and my brothers”, harsh as it may sound about Jesus’ natural family is meant to contrast it with His spiritual family; namely all those who do the will of God. So the family of Jesus is not bound by blood relation but by fidelity to the will of God.
Fr Warner D’Souza