At times Jesus seems very pro-family.
- He advocates a stricter standard for divorce than any of the prevailing views of the day (Matt 19:3-9).
- He elevates the status of children, women, and widows (Matt 19:13-15, Luke 8:1-3, many others).
- He emphasizes the fatherhood of God, comparing him to good human fathers (Matt 7:7-11).
- He shows compassion on parents by healing their children, raising them from the dead (e.g. Luke 7:11-15, where he raises a widow’s only son from the dead).
- He makes arrangements for his mother’s care after his death (John 19:26-27).
But at times he says and does things that mess with our family-friendly assumptions.
- He tells a man to follow him instead of burying his father (Luke 9:59-60).
- He encourages his disciples to leave their families to follow him (Matt 4:18-22, Mark 10:28-31).
- He leaves his own family, and “disowns” them when they don’t believe in him (Mark 3:31-35).
- He specifically says he’ll tear families apart, and that you must love him more than your family (Matt 10:34-37).
What does Jesus do to the family? He gives it a place of great importance: more important than almost anything on earth, but not more important than doing the will of God. Gospel trumps family for Jesus; obedience trumps family. So yes, honor your father and mother. But if Jesus calls you to follow him, don’t use the family business-or your father’s death-as an excuse to disobey him. Love, enjoy, cherish your family members. But don’t count pleasant family relationships as more important than the Gospel.
God grant that I will love my family more than anything else on earth-but never more than you. And grant that, by your mercy, my family will be one that’s united, not divided, by the Gospel of your Son.