During Jesus’s final few hours on the cross we find Him handing the care of His mother, Mary, to John, the beloved disciple. But didn’t Jesus have brothers? Did He forget about them or was there another reason for His decision?
In John 19:26-27, we find Jesus handing the care and protection of His mother over to the disciple John, even labelling Mary as John’s mother and him her son,
“When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”
Many of us usually don’t take much note of this verse when we go about our daily devotionals but, like any part of the Bible, it’s worth taking a closer look at it. The first question we may ask is: why did Jesus hand Mary over to John instead of her other sons? In a culture that places great importance on kinship bonds this seems especially unusual.
The Gospel of John actually records our answer elsewhere, in an entirely different context. John 7:2-5 records Jesus’s brothers taunting Him and urging Him to perform miracles during the Feast of Booths,
“Now the Jew’s feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him.”
It makes sense, then, that Jesus would have wanted someone who would sympathize with Mary’s anguish after His death. He wanted someone who had believed His ministy, had loved Him, and had been faithful to the end rather than someone who had spent their lives making fun of him. Of course, there is ample evidence that the brothers converted after the Resurrection, however, they would have been of no aid during the dark time before His resurrection.
What does this mean for us today? Jesus obviously did not feel any obligation to His immediate family. He wasn’t thinking, “I know my brothers mocked my ministry, however, they are family, so I guess that means I need to hand the care of my mother to them.” In our culture, family is what’s important, however, what happens when that family looks down on you, laughs at you, or treats you with less dignity than others? How should we respond? Should we follow an obligation to them even if our relationships with them are toxic or should we part ways? Abuse, whether physical or emotional, is never right or justified. If you feel as though you’re being unfaily treated by your peers I want to encourage you today that it’s ok to cut ties with them. Relational bonds are never more important than physical and spiritual health. In fact, Jesus doesn’t classify relational ties as family if they are not in the body of Christ.
“And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:33-35)
You are a child of God, full of dignity, honor, love, and value. You aren’t someone to be looked down upon or used. You are cherished in the eyes of God, so hold on to that and ask yourself if this person sees you the same way.