Family first?: Matthew 12.46–50 (1 July 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.



Lord, open my ears to hear what you have to say to me; open my heart to love your word, and open my mind to understand your truth.


Daily reflection: Matthew 12

There are indications in the Gospels that Jesus’ family were worried about and even hostile towards his ministry. Perhaps they have come to him on this occasion to try to talk him out of his mission. His words about family are quite startling even today, when families come in all shapes and sizes and ties are often weaker. In those days they would have been shocking. His disciples are closer to each other than they are to their blood relations, he says: ‘Whoever does what my Father in heaven wants him to do is my brother, my sister, and my mother’ (verse 50); evidently, Joseph by this time had died.

We shouldn’t imagine Jesus was undermining the importance of family here. Elsewhere he condemns those who neglect their family duties in the name of religion (Mark 7.9–13). But he is using an Eastern rhetorical style to make a point: God comes first, and those who do God’s will – believing in and following Jesus as Messiah – are a new family, bound together with unbreakable ties. In some circumstances, this faith might cause conflict with a human family. Situations might arise where we need much wisdom and grace – and churches should be deeply sensitive to this, and never put pressure on new believers to act in ways that produce unnecessary tensions with their families. However, whilst there is a saying that ‘blood is thicker than water’ – meaning that family ties trump everything else – the water of baptism is thicker than blood.



God, help me to value my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to see them as my family. Thank you for bringing me into a new community; help me to be loyal, faithful and loving.

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