In The Family of Jesus

Devotional, The Church, The Gospel, Theology

Usually when we read that Jesus had a wife and kids it is one of those ridiculous news magazine cover stories that quote some tired old 8th century forgery as an authentic Apostolic autograph or in a sensationalistic documentary claiming to unearth the “family tomb” of Jesus.  An *ahem* Biblical studies expert is usually called upon to hypothesize eloquently about Jesus and Mary Magdalene and what may or may not have been.  Why are these so-called discoveries always unveiled around Easter and Christmas?  Is is possible that their may be a slight profit motive behind it all?  I’d not like to give account for that on the final day, speaking personally.

It is certainly true that Jesus had a family in the BIble.  His relationship biologically to His mother was no different than yours or mine.  And he had an adoptive earthly father in Joseph.  His earthly brothers of course figure prominently in the New Testament.

And from another perspective it is also true that the intra-Trinitarian relationship of Persons is partially revealed to us in familial terms- the Father and the Son. But it is not Jesus earthly, nor intra-Trinitarian next of kin which is the focus in this post.  Rather, I want to share three ways we are spiritually related to Jesus in the pages of Scripture.

1. We are the siblings of Jesus.

…That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers… (Hebrews 2:12)

…I will tell of your name to my brothers… (Hebrews 2:13)

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)

For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother. (Matthew 12:50)

Several beautiful truths are highlighted here.  By becoming incarnate the Son of God has become the brother of men.  He was made humanly like us in every respect but our sin.  And because of what He did in the flesh, He has so redeemed you that He is not ashamed to look at you (if you, reader, are His) and call you brother.

In our redeemed lives we are so closely identified with Him and His mission that it even takes priority over our earthly blood-bonds.  When viewed on their own merits our earthly relationships are precious and ordained of God.  Yet when viewed in comparison to our relationship to Christ, it is as though they do not even exist.  And truly the wonder of the thing is that Jesus identifies that way with us.  He turns away from even precious earthly ties and says here is my closest family- those who do the will of My Father in heaven.

2. We are the bride of Jesus.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready (Revelation 19:7)

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9)

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And  he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God (Revelation 21:9-10)

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32)

Rather than attempt to immediately sort out the already/not yet dynamics at play in these verses, can we not simply be quietly overwhelmed by what God is saying to us in His Word?  The redeemed people of God, those purchased by the blood of Jesus, His church- we are called His bride.  A man is called to leave father and mother and cleave to His new wife, and similarly Jesus left the comforts of heaven on a redemptive mission of love.  He came after His intended bride and laid down His life to win her.   His work on her behalf has won many things we could list and rehearse- but among his trophies of grace we must say that He has certainly won her heart.  He has indeed won more that that- glory for Himself, propitiation for us, so much more we could list- but there in the midst of the great roll of the redemptive victories won by Christ is this: he has taken the dead hearts of these spiritual corpses and knit them together into a living spiritual Bride fit for a King, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.  He has resurrected, cleansed, redeemed and thoroughly won the heart of his bride- His Church.

3. We are the children of Jesus.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;

he has put him to grief;

when his soul makes an offering for guilt,

he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;

the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:10)

Sometimes lost in the midst of this beautiful account of the Suffering Servant is this prophetic promise- after Christ is crushed and put to grief for the iniquities of His straying sheep and after his soul makes an offering for guilt, there is the promise that he shall see his offspring.

The Bible describes us as the spiritual children of Jesus.  Notice that in the gospels Jesus again and again refers to his disciples as children (Mark 9:42; 10:24; John 13:33-35; 21:4,5).  How good it is to look to him with the quiet expectation and trust of a child.  In Isaiah 53 the picture is that the Servant will endure the Sufferings and afterward he shall be raised up.  Several pictures of the end to which he will be stricken are offered, and the first one listed is that He will see those who once were straying sheep are now his devoted children.  What a glorious and neglected truth- believers are the spiritual children of Jesus.  He is their Federal Head, their Covenant Lord, and their Spiritual Father.  To call Him such is not to introduce Trinitarian confusion of persons, nor to neglect his place as our Spiritual Brother and Spiritual Husband.  It is simply to continue to follow Scripture in the beautiful familial metaphors it paints for us.  

The family of Jesus is about much more than the cheap opportunistic hack jobs thrown up around Christmas and Easter in the secular press.  There are multiple levels of glorious truth to consider.  Jesus was a real man, and he really had a human family.  He was made like us in so many ways.  And the Bible does not hesitate to use the image of a family to describe us as the spiritual siblings, bride, and children of Jesus.  Each of these spiritual bonds draws out and expresses with new depth and clarity the union we have with our Lord.  Although he had no earthly wife and no earthly children, His family is real and it is growing.  If you are in His family, rejoice with me today.  If you are outside, why?

(By: Nicolas Alford- with some heavy influence from Pastor Greg Nichols on point 3)

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