Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. John 12:24
One of my favorite Hymns begins with the words, “On a hill far away Stood an old rugged cross.” When we sing hymns we may get a picture of Jesus’ life as though there were no daily life, no home, no family or any of the earthly responsibilities that we have. Yes Jesus did die on that far away hill for our sins.Just as He said, “He fell to the ground and died” Yes, Jesus was born of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem fulfilling the prophecy. Yes Jesus did walk on water, raise the dead and cleanse the lepers. But in between all those magnificent moments of Jesus’ life, he also had a family. Amazingly, Jesus in His gentleness and wisdom was able to bring those two worlds together.
For us, who deal with even the smallest roles of leadership in the church, this earthly side of Jesus’ life is so important to remember. When the needs the hurts and the voices of others, sometimes begin to drown out the voices of our own family we can look to the master. Jesus also had a family and that he never forgot who He was on earth, as well as who He was in Heaven.
After all Jesus never questioned when people said, “Jesus of Nazareth”. When he met the first disciples the first thing that Nathaniel asked was, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth was his earthly family’s hometown. Jesus never froze the conversation to point out that in fact, He should more properly have been called, “Jesus of Bethlehem” Jesus preached his first message in front of His family and at his home synagogue. At Cana of Galilee, where He did his first miracle, His mother and brothers were there. In the midst of some of the most intense times of Jesus earthly ministry, he returned to Nazareth.
The lack of the intimate details of how Jesus as the oldest son, cared for the needs of his mother, didn’t mean that he ignored her. In fact, the lack of Biblical specifics, may have been His way of protecting and gently covering the humanity and fragility of Mary and His brothers and sisters. That covering that Jesus gave, rather than being a stifling blanket to His family instead became a greenhouse to protect and encourage their growth.
While Jesus faced increasing hostility and persecution from the religious leaders, His family was given space to live their own lives. When Jesus was preparing to go up to Jerusalem and His brothers (still unbelieving at that point) wanted him to go with them; He spared them by going later. Though Jesus was indeed the eternal Son of God, He always remembered that He was also, the Son of Mary. At the harshest moment of opposition from His own family when they came to take Him away, thinking He had lost His mind, Jesus challenged them to believe, but He never rejected them.
At the very end, on that “Hill Far Away” Jesus looked down from the cross and in His moment of horrible suffering He made provision for for His mother’s needs. Have we, who are only minor servants in God’s kingdom remembered the importance of doing the same? Have we in our own moments of stress, family fighting or suffering been sure to make provision for them? When Mary and Joseph felt alone in the stable, God sent shepherds, to remind them of the preciousness of that hour. When Jesus was busy, with thousands following His ministry, He found time again and again to return home to Nazareth. When finally His last drops of blood were flowing from His arms, He tenderly trusted His mother to John.
“Every good tree gives good fruit.”.Jesus had taught on the mount. The good fruit of Jesus’ family care was that, at Pentecost, Mary was still there in the upper room. When all the church was later scattered by persecution Mary was able to safely remain in Jerusalem under the wing of John. Later on we discover that two of His brothers, James and Jude not only became believers but went on to become Apostles. In Jerusalem none other than James became the local leader and pastor of the early church.
Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed in that conflict between ministry and home. But if we remember that like Jesus we have both an earthly family and a heavenly calling then from our life will come the good fruit that grows from a seed that falls to the ground.It may be our Father is allowing pressure to build up to help us to break free from the husk of the seed shell and begin to grow, discover new life and give good fruit to those closest. We may have an innumerable array of friends and neighbors, but we have only one family that God has trusted into our hands.