Sunday, March 13, 2011

Did Jesus Abandon and Forsake His Family?

There is generally little discussion about the legitimate family of Jesus. He has been called the Son of Man; he is defined as the Son of God Himself, and he is the child of Joseph and Mary. According to a host of religious sources, he was begotten by the Holy Spirit, which implies that Joseph was not his biological father and that Mary was a virgin.

Yet the image of Mary as a virgin persists despite the fact that she had other children after Christ. It is known that Jesus had siblings, but apart from a few passages, we know very little about them, nor are we told much about his extended family.

One could counter that Jesus may have been physically brought into this world by his mother Mary and may have been taken care of, protected and educated by Joseph, his father, but that all this time, Jesus has been beyond the scope of this realm and is a unique and spiritual Child of Heaven.

But regardless of the motives and circumstances, Jesus did leave and abandon his family. Jesus seemed to have broken the commandment about honoring your parents. He follows his own path and picks strangers as his disciples, basically anyone willing to love him and follow his path. When he meets his mother years later, he answers that she may be his mother, but that essentially, he is motherless.

In other words, Jesus did not only abandon and forsake his family, he denied them. Why would such a person who is filled with love and who inspires others to love and forgive each other, be so cruel to members of his own flesh and blood? Did he himself not follow what he preached?

The problem is more complex. In fact, he probably had no other choice. Familial love and concern would have limited the impact and the grand ambitions of this exceptional and influential man. For example, his parents would have never agreed with his lifestyle – a nomadic life with prostitutes and cripples – along with the dangers that their son would face, leading eventually to his tragic and painful death.

In many ways, if he had not abandoned his family, he would have felt limited and constricted by their protective love for him. It was a liberating and even necessary move to remove the familial shackles and to create something that would last far and beyond into the future. As such, he extended the human notion of family to include and embrace all of humanity.


FishHawk said...

Could it not be argued that He abandoned His immediate earthly family in the same way as a son, who essentially abandons his own family to go fight in a war, especially if it is on foreign soil?

Arashmania said...

That is quite true, but the fact remains, he still abandoned his family. Obviously, others do so for much lower incentives and not for high-minded noble and moral reasons.

In fact, strange as it may sound, Jesus was quite "unpopular" in his hometown and with his folks, at least when he started out on his mission. Most of them did not approve of his ideals.

Lavender Darwin said...

If his ministry started when Jesus was in his 30's, how was he abandoning his family when he went out to start his ministry? Wasn't he just setting out, at a mature age, to do the will of his Heavenly Father?

Lavender Darwin said...

Oh yeah, and what is the proof text of Jesus abandoning his mother?

Anonymous said...

That is quite insightful of you to say so. But allow me to suggest some additional explanations which can be chewed on:

Jesus' mother was with Him during His ministry and is listen among the women who followed to take care of His needs. Just because there is no written account of His interactions with her does not mean He did not interact with her - those are private exchanges and you may not want your conversations with your mother to be put in the world's bestselling publication.

As for His brothers (the Greek use of the masculine plural may include sisters as well), they did not believe in Him - they were not among the original disciples, and are portrayed like the rest of Nazareth - rejecting in disbelief for much of His ministry. They had the opportunity to follow Him during His ministry, but chose not to.

FishHawk said...

Thanks for stopping by, my dear Anonymous! Wasn't the Book of James put into written form by one of Jesus' actual half-brothers? Some claim that he is also the human writer of Hebrews, but I am fairly confident that it was really the Apostle Paul.

Of course, it doesn't really matter who actually placed what into written form when it come to believability. For all Scripture came directly from our Heavenly Father, but for the sake of establishing whether or not any of Jesus' "natural" siblings were believers, being the scribe for one of the books of our Heavenly Father's Holy Bible should go a long ways toward proving that at least one of them was.

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