for It" 2009 part 3
It's All Relative: Meeting the Family of Jesus
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
August 23, 2009
We’re continuing this
morning with our August message series called, “You Asked for It.”
Which is basically what it is… it’s a series of messages based on
topics or themes or passages of Scripture that you requested. Two or
three months ago, we made some cards available to take requests, and
we’ve been talking about those requests.
Two weeks ago, we
talked about the first request, Spiritual Warfare. Last week, we talked
about another request, angels. This morning, we’re going to look at a
third request… I was asked to speak about the family of Jesus.
is an interesting request, because really, we don’t know a lot about
Jesus’ family. But we do know a little bit, so we’re going to talk
about some of the different members of his family. And as we do, I
think some of you might recognize some similarities to your own family.
So let’s get going. And you can use the notes provided in your Sunrise
Update to follow along and fill in the blanks. Let’s start by talking
Family of Jesus:
The faithful mother
talking, of course, about Mary. Now, most of what we know about Mary we
learn from the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. We know that Mary
was a young woman who was living a pure life and living in obedience to
God, and she was probably just a teenager… 13, 14, 15, years old… when
an angel appeared to her with a message from God.
I’m not sure
what Mary was doing at the time… maybe she was cleaning house, maybe
she was preparing supper, maybe she was addressing invitations to her
wedding, maybe she was watching reruns of Saved by the Bell. I don’t
know what she was doing. But whatever it was, she was suddenly
interrupted when the angel Gabriel appeared before her with an
And understand, this was not exactly an everyday
event. We’ve all heard the story so many times over the years that
we’ve kind of written it off as nothing out of the ordinary. But
really, it was extraordinary. An angel appeared to Mary to tell her
that she had found favour with God, and that God had chosen her – a
virgin – to give birth to Jesus, the Son of God.
Now, I want you
to understand what was happening here. Mary was engaged to be married,
she had never slept with her fiancé, or with anyone else for that
matter, but yet she was going to somehow become pregnant. What kind of
consequences would she face from that?
Well, for one thing, I
doubt many people would believe her. “What Mary? You’re pregnant? How?
Who… Oh, an angel came to you?1? Sure, that explains everything.” No, I
think most people would have thought she was lying. Or maybe a little
crazy. And even beyond that, she would have been treated with contempt.
In that society, she would have been looked down on, she would have
been rejected, she would have been labeled as immoral, and she could
have even been stoned to death.
Certainly she risked the
rejection of her family. We don’t know how her parents reacted to the
news, but seeing that she spent the first three months of the pregnancy
living with other relatives, that may give us a clue.
real wildcard was how Joseph would have reacted. We’re going to talk
more about him in just a moment, but for now, just consider how you
would have responded if you were him. You’re engaged, your fiancée gets
pregnant, and you know there’s no way you’re the father.
certainly faced some pretty serious consequences by going along with
God’s plan. But when the angel appeared that day, did she argue? Did
she tell the angel to go find someone else? Did she refuse to play
along? Take a look at her reaction…
Luke 1:38 (NLT)
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said
about me come true.”
Mary proves herself right there to be faithful to God and to the ways
of God. And she went through with the pregnancy, and gave birth to
Jesus. And that’s normally where our recognition of Mary stops.
she does make some other appearances in the New Testament. So I want to
jump ahead about 34 years… She’s raised Jesus, Jesus is now a grown man
and has spent three years traveling around teaching people and healing
people and proclaiming the Kingdom of God… He’s made some friends, but
He’s also made some enemies. And these enemies have conspired against
Him, falsely accused Him of crimes against the Roman Empire, and have
orchestrated His crucifixion on the Cross.
At this point, everyone associated with Jesus was also in danger. But
who do you see at the foot of the cross?
John 19:25-27 (NLT)
near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the
wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing
there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here
is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And
from then on this disciple took her into his home.
Even as Jesus
hung on the cross, there His mother was right there with Him. And it
makes me wonder, when Mary first agreed to go along with this whole
thing, did she know what she was getting into? Did she understand that
Jesus wasn’t going to be an ordinary boy, that not everyone was going
to accept Him, that someday she would have to watch her son die? I
don’t know if she understood that or not. But I do know that when the
time came, she was there.
And it makes me think about my own
mother… she’s someone who’s always there for me. I’ve never had to
worry about her turning her back on me. I’ve never had to worry about
her shunning me. And even though I’m sure there have been times that
I’ve done things or said things that have hurt her, she’s always been
And I think many of you could identify with that, too.
I understand not everyone is as fortunate as this, but many of us know
what it means to have a faithful mother. Some of you are those faithful
For others of you, you are still young children or
teenagers, and it might be hard to recognize and appreciate what it
means to have a faithful mother. So just take my word for it… even if
you might be at a stage where you fight or argue a lot with your
mother… a faithful mother is something we need to be grateful for.
Most mothers endure a lot of pain and heartache while raising their
kids. Mary certainly did. But she remained faithful.
in fact, in the first chapter of Acts – after Jesus has risen from the
dead, spent forty days with His followers, and then ascended into
Heaven – after all of that has happened, you still see Mary, and she’s
active in the newly forming church. She was now faithfully carrying on
the work of her Son. She was faithful.
And then you have Joseph…
The sacrificing father
we’ve already touched on this, so we’re not going to spend a lot of
time on this. But Joseph was engaged to Mary, I’m sure he had all kinds
of plans for their future, and then Mary shows up pregnant.
To protect his pride and reputation, Joseph could have publicly rebuked
Mary and had her stoned to death. That was his option.
[Matthew 1:19 (NLT)
Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her
publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.]
Joseph chose not to do that. Instead, he decided he would quietly break
off the engagement. Sure, people would have talked, they wouldn’t have
understood… they would have thought he was the father, and his
reputation would have taken a hit. But he was willing to make that
[Matthew 1:20-21 (NLT)
As he considered this, an
angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,”
the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the
child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a
son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from
But then an angel appeared to him, and explained
that Mary hadn’t cheated on him, and that the baby was in fact the
Saviour of the World.
Well, sure… an angel appeared to Joseph,
but that wasn’t going to convince everyone else. Most people were going
to assume that Joseph was the father, that he and Mary had been
sleeping together. And while in our society today that seems to be the
norm, it’s not something that God condones. His design for sex is for
it to be enjoyed fully, but only within a marriage relationship. And in
the society that Mary and Joseph found themselves, they would have
become the target of gossip all over town.
And even beyond that,
here Joseph was, trying to build a carpentry business… and I wonder how
many people would have stopped hiring him because of the hit to his
[Matthew 1:24-25 (NLT)
…[Joseph] did as the angel
of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have
sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him
But despite all of these sacrifices, Joseph decided to
go ahead with the marriage, to treat Jesus like his own son, and to
raise Him in the ways of God.
But that’s not the end of it.
Because shortly after the birth of Jesus, an angel appears to Joseph
again to warn him that King Herod was trying to find Jesus to kill Him.
So what did Joseph do?
Matthew 2:14-15 (NLT)
That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother,
and they stayed there until Herod’s death.
other words, Joseph left his business, he left any friends or family he
had, he packed up just the few things he could carry, and he took off
with his family to a totally foreign land. He didn’t know what to
expect when he got there, he didn’t know how long he’d be there, but he
made that sacrifice anyway.
Now, my own father never had to deal
with an immaculate conception or an unplanned trip to Egypt. But he
does know what it means to make sacrifices.
You see, my dad
started working full time as a teenager in order to help provide some
income for his family. And he’s worked hard ever since. I don’t know of
anyone who has worked harder or sacrificed more than my dad has for his
For me, that’s my image of a father… someone who’s
willing to put their family ahead of their own comfort or even their
own ambitions. A father is someone who’s willing to sacrifice for their
family. Some of you who are fathers here… you know what I’m talking
about because you make those sacrifices. And you don’t complain about
them. You know they come with the job. But you’re willing to do it
because you love your family.
Jesus had a father who made
sacrifices. Now, we don’t know much else about Joseph beyond the birth
and dedication of Jesus, and one trip they made to Jerusalem when Jesus
was 12. After that, Joseph kind of disappears from the story. Scholars
tend to think that Joseph was significantly older than Mary, and had
died by the time Jesus became an adult. I think that’s probably true.
But I do wonder… when Jesus was growing up and saw the sacrifices
Joseph was willing to make… I wonder how that impacted His willingness
to make the supreme sacrifice on the cross. Joseph set a pretty good
example for Him.
So Mary and Joseph… so far so good. But then you have…
The critical siblings
you know that Jesus had brothers and sisters? Actually, I guess they’d
be half-brothers and half-sisters. But after the birth of Jesus, Mary
and Joseph did have kids of their own. In fact, they had several kids.
know of four brothers, named James, Joses, Simon, and Judas. And we
know he had at least two sisters, although we’re not told their names.
(See Matthew 13:55-56)
And you’d think that if anyone would
believe Jesus and would follow Him, it’d be His own family, right?
Wrong. His brothers thought He was nuts. Or at best, they thought He
might be a con artist. Here, take a look…
John 7:3-5 (NLT)
brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers
can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this!
If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For
even his brothers didn’t believe in him.
Mark 3:20-21, 31 (NLT)
time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon
he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family
heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his
mind,” they said. …
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and
sent word for him to come out and talk with them.
just to deal with an obvious question, you might wonder what Mary was
doing there. I mean, didn’t we just talk about her being so faithful?
Well, truth is, I don’t know what she was doing there. But I can think
of at least a few possibilities.
- Maybe she just happened to
be there with her other sons when they decided to confront Jesus and
she was kind of caught in the middle.
- Maybe she was there to play mediator. I mean, how many times does a
mother have to play a mediator when her kids are fighting.
Maybe she was confused. Sure, the angel appeared to her and explained
it all to her, but that was like 30 years ago, and maybe she was
starting to have some doubts. I mean, she was still a faithful mother,
but a lot of faithful mothers have held interventions for their
So we don’t really know why Mary was there. But we do
know that the brothers didn’t understand who Jesus was and they were
highly critical of Him.
Now, did their criticism affect Jesus?
I’m sure it did. But did it stop Him from doing what He was meant to
do? No, He kept right on teaching people, He kept on healing people, He
kept on proclaiming the Kingdom of God, and He kept on marching down
the path that would ultimately lead to the cross where He would die for
all of humanity.
What does criticism do to you? Whether it comes
from a brother or a sister or anyone else, how do you react when
someone attacks you? Whoever came up with that saying that “words can
never hurt me” was an idiot. Words can hurt… they can sap you of any
energy, they can discourage you from moving forward, they can rob you
of your momentum, they can make you question what you’re even doing…
words have a lot of power and they can hurt.
Let me tell you
something: criticism can be avoided. Let me tell you how: By saying
nothing, by doing nothing, and by being nothing. But if you want do
anything of significance… if you want to accomplish anything great for
God… then you’re going to face it. It’s a physical law that motion
causes friction. So if you’re going to do anything great for God, it’s
going to cause some friction and you will face some criticism.
what are you going to do when you do face it? Well, Jesus pressed on in
spite of it. He didn’t allow the criticism to stop Him. He knew He was
doing what was right, and He kept on doing it, even though his own
family didn’t understand.
And you know the great thing? Eventually, they came around.
Acts 1:14 (NLT)
disciples] all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along
with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of
His brother James became a leader in the early Church,
and is believed to have written the letter of James included in our New
Joses and Simon apparently became traveling missionaries (apostles).
(See 1 Corinthians 9:5)
Judas… well, because of another rather infamous Judas, he changed his
name to Jude and is believed to have written the letter of Jude in the
Jesus pressed on despite the criticism, and eventually the critics came
The embarrassing relatives
not going to spend much time on this. But we all have those
embarrassing relatives, don’t we? That crazy aunt or some criminal in
our family tree? Well, Jesus had that, too. Think about it… most
immediately, he had a relative who wandered around wearing animal skins
and eating locusts… desperately needed a bath… just shouting at people
I don’t know why, but every time I think of John the Baptist, I think
of Exador from Mork & Mindy. Anyone remember him?
that’s one relative of Jesus’. And if you go back through his family
tree, you’ll find lots of skeleton-occupied closets. You’ll find a
prostitute, a murder, an adulterer, a thief, a liar, an
idol-worshipper, a few wicked kings…
Jesus had all of that in
His family tree. But that didn’t limit Him. And I don’t think He wants
your past… your heritage… to hold you back, either. Don’t use them as
an excuse, and don’t allow a “checkered past” to dictate what God can
do with your future.
The adopted family
is about you and me. This is about all Christ-followers in all places
throughout all time. Those of us who have accepted that Jesus is who He
says He is, that He is God who died for me to pay the penalty for my
sinfulness, who rose again and conquered death and the grave… those of
us who have accepted that and have chosen to live for Him are now part
of His adopted spiritual family.
Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)
decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to
himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave
him great pleasure.
My sister and her husband are right now in
the process of trying to adopt a child. Which as you may know, can be a
long process. Well, my brother’s 9-year old son just a week or two ago
started to ask questions about this potential adoption, and he even
asked my mother if she would love the her adopted grandchild as much as
her biological grandchildren.
And of course the answer to that
is yes. Because when you choose to adopt, you are welcoming a new
member into your family with nothing held back.
Well, God chose
to adopt us. We are part of His family. And Jesus understood this, even
while His earthly mother and brothers were nearby. Remember we talked
about that earlier? The brothers thought Jesus was losing it, so they
came to talk to Jesus? Take a look at what happened next…
Mark 3:32-35 (NLT)
There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother
and your brothers are outside asking for you.”
replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he looked at
those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers.
Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
that’s the greatest thing of all. We are not just servants worshipping
some distant deity. No, Jesus considers us to be family.
this room this morning, we are family. And we have family all across
this city and around the world. We have a spiritual connection… a
family bond… with Christ-followers on every continent and throughout
time. If we could somehow perform a spiritual DNA test, it would show
that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.
Going all the way back to the first days of the Church… talking about
Christ-followers then, it says…
Acts 2:42a (CEV)
...they were like family to each other.
Wow, what a powerful statement. They were like family. A couple other
Romans 12:10 (GW)
Be devoted to each other like a loving family.
1 Peter 2:17b (Msg)
Love your spiritual family!
are a spiritual family. So hey, if you couldn’t think of any
embarrassing relatives when we were talking about them earlier, then
look around the room. I think that spots been filled now.
maybe you’re not particularly close to your biological family… or maybe
your family has been a source of pain for you. So perhaps that distorts
your image of what this spiritual family is. But you need to
understand, when the Bible describes the Church as a family it’s not
talking about a dysfunctional family; it’s talking about a healthy
family. It’s not talking about a disconnected association, it’s talking
about a bonded relationship. It’s not talking about an arbitrary
bloodline, it’s talking about a spiritual bloodline… bonded by a shared
Christian heritage, a shared mission in the world, a shared focus of
worship, and a shared hope for the future. We are a family.
you imagine a Church like that? I can. Because I see what God is doing
here at Sunrise. He’s making us into this kind of Family. He’s making
us into His family. And more and more, I see Him doing this in His
Church around the world.
You know, there’s a verse in the Old Testament where David wrote…
Psalm 122:1 (NLT)
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
if the house of the Lord then was anything like the family of God now,
I can understand that. Because I look forward to spending every Sunday
morning with you.