Our Brothers in Ancient Nineveh – Matthew 12:46-50, Day 1

triad study Matthew 12 bible workbook with green and blacks organic milk chocolate with almonds

Study: Hope Church Triad Program

Today’s ChocolateGreen & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate with Almonds

Today’s Passage: Matthew 12:46-50

Okay, so last week ended kind of catastrophically. Let’s see if we can get back on our feet. This week we return to the Triad study with Matthew 12:46-50, which the study authors chose to illustrate the theme of “family.” What do you think? Can I go the whole week in this passage without actually addressing the theme of “family?” I kid, but all good jokes have a grain of truth to them.

So, in this little four-verse segment of Matthew, we have Jesus declaring anyone who does God’s will to be his family. On the first day, the Triad workbook recommends that I read the context of this scene as well as the scene itself. As far as I can tell, though, the context doesn’t directly relate to the “family” theme. Jesus’ mother and brothers find him here as he’s coming out of an extended diatribe against his Jewish contemporaries for demanding signs and miracles from him, and after the scene, he takes a boat out onto the lake and tells the Parable of the Sower to a crowd on the beach.

As I think about it, though, Jesus’ indictment of his generation in Matthew 12:38-45 does kind of pertain to the notion of family. As the Triad workbook notes, first-century Jewish society emphasized familial bonds, both between all Jews as children of Abraham and between members of the same nuclear family. When Jesus says, “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (41), he appears to me to be suggesting that as a result of the Ninevites’ repentance, they have a spot in God’s eternal family. And on top of that, they’ll condemn Jesus’ fellow Jews at the judgment. Jesus adds that the Queen of Sheba, a prominent pagan nation during Solomon’s reign, will likewise testify against Jesus’ contemporaries (42). The implication, as far as I can tell, is that these unwashed Gentiles have a better handle on God’s character, God’s will, and what it means to be part of God’s family than first-century Jewish Joe on the street. And that’s a scathing indictment.

Not sure what the Parable of the Sower’s got to do with family, though. It’s comparing God’s people to seeds, not brothers and sisters and moms. Something something family tree? So much then for the context. Tune in tomorrow, where, God willing, we will talk about the actual passage of the week, Matthew 12:46-50.

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