The Family and Friends of Jesus – this weeks, March 8th, vicar’s thought

‘Family is Everything’ – you can’t have failed over the past few weeks (if you watch BBC TV), to have seen this headline for Eastenders. And if you’ve ever seen it, you will know that their family relationships are very complex and dysfunctional! It is taken for granted in non-western societies that whole families are units, but it is not so obvious in the West where the family has been reduced to ‘nuclear’ size, and tends to function as a loose collection of individuals. We need to think in a different way in order to grasp what Jesus means when he speaks about family. It is he, actually, who ‘chose to bring many children into glory’. [1] He and we are children ‘of the same family’, we ‘have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.’ [2] He is both our elder brother and alongside us with God our Father. But not only does Jesus call us his brothers and sisters, he calls us his friends [3] . Friends trust and talk: Jesus wants his disciples to understand the world the way he does, and to share the insight his Father has shared with him. Friendship thrives on generosity: Jesus gives himself, dying for those he loves. Friendship brings responsibility too: I must love the people whom Jesus draws into his circle of belonging, and this may be a constant and costly duty. Not all Christians are likeable, yet loving them is a command, not an option.

[1] Hebrews 2:10, [2] Hebrews 2:11, [3] John 15.14