Discipleship and Family Tension

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  Gen. 2:24  ESV

It’s easy for parents to feel that their children will always be under some measure of their authority.  The control they once held is not released easily.  No wonder leaving and cleaving is such an issue for newlyweds.  Jesus also modeled leaving and cleaving to show us how it’s done.  He didn’t leave his parents to cleave to a wife but He did leave his family to cleave to His Father, a higher authority.  This emotional clash was, at times, stressful for his parents.

In John 2, Mary presumed upon Jesus’ divinity at the wedding feast but Jesus exalts his sonship to His heavenly Father above his sonship to his mother.  He had a radical allegiance to God’s will above his mother’s will.  He also felt a burden to make clear, not only to his mother and his brothers and sisters but to all the rest of us, that no physical relationship on earth controlled him.  His mother and his physical family would have no special advantage to guide his ministry or even receive His salvation.  His miracle that day in Cana, the one of water turning to wine, was at his mother’s bidding.

Jesus had to work against the assumption of his day that his physical family had an inside track.  I recall the time in Luke 11 that a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Jesus.  ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!’  But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’

Jesus said, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and his wife and children and his brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.’  Luke 14:26 Hate in this context doesn’t mean emotional hatred.  Hate means preference, deferring to the one who takes priority.  As adults, we are to leave the ways of our parents if what they expect of us conflicts with the voice of our Father.  Leave and cleave.  This is not an easy way to live but necessary for all disciples.  When we struggle with the tension it often brings in relationships, we are comforted that Jesus knows what it’s like and He’s walked this road before us.

Oh, the pressure to keep peace with family.  Teach me, Jesus, how to live!  In Jesus’ name, Amen

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