Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at Jonah’s preaching; and look—something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look—something greater than Solomon is here. “When an unclean spirit comes out of a person, it roams through waterless places looking for rest but doesn’t find any. Then it says, ‘I’ll go back to my house that I came from.’ Returning, it finds the house vacant, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that person’s last condition is worse than the first. That’s how it will also be with this evil generation.” While he was still speaking with the crowds, his mother and brothers were standing outside wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to the one who was speaking to him, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Stretching out his hand toward 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.”
Dear God, I wish I had done Part 14 and Part 15 in reverse order. I missed this story in chapter 12 before I did the story of Jesus in the synagogue from chapter 13. In reading this now, the order of the stories is that Mary and Jesus’s brothers were dissed here by Jesus, then he tells a bunch of parables by the sea, and then he goes into the synagogue and is rejected (and indicates his family has rejected him as well).
What a strange time this must have been for Mary. She apparently had a lot of children, both boys and girls. I wonder how much time she spent trying to calm the other children down as they dealt with Jesus as their brother. It had to have been hard for them, and it added an underappreciated layer of complexity to Mary’s life as a mother. Maybe it would have been easier for her to figure out how to be a mother to Jesus as an adult if he had been her only, but she had some other children to worry about as well. She was a mother to all of them. And I’m sure sometimes she did it right by standing up to them and telling them they were wrong about Jesus, and sometimes she did it wrong and gave into their perspective of him.
Being a parent, even of adult children, is so complicated. It’s true that our job to parent them is never quite over. As long as we are alive, there is a role for us to play, even if it is only to show them love. Then there are the decisions we have to make regarding whether to help them or not help them in a given situation. I hate to see them suffer, but I also don’t want to get in the way of how you might be working in their life through an obstacle that is in front of them. If I remove that obstacle, have I gotten in your way?
Father, thank you that our forefathers and foremothers we just people too. Thank you that you have given us examples of flawed people who were as lost about parenting as I feel sometimes. I would learn nothing if they were perfect, but none of them are. Now, please help my wife and me to parent our own children. Counsel us through each other and others. Raise up people in our children’s lives whom they can hear and will speak with your voice. Heal their wounds. Heal our wounds. And, in the end, be glorified in all of our lives.
In Jesus’s name I pray,