Study: Hope Church Triad Program
Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate with Almonds
Today’s Passage: Matthew 12:46-50
Welcome back, people who read Chocolate Book. We continue to catch up on this week’s posts, camping out in the final verses of Matthew 12 for the Triad study. I read them again, and they haven’t changed; they are still about spiritual family. The Triad study suggests that on Day Four, we read them from the perspective of Jesus’ disciples, presumably to get a new view and new insights. Perhaps we’ll touch on that, but in order to get the post started, I want to talk about a thought that occurred to me as I was asking myself how the disciples might view Jesus’ words.
Jesus is in a room full of listeners and disciples when his family comes looking to speak to him. They send in a messenger for him, but he gestures toward his disciples and tells the messenger, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (49-50). Noticing that Jesus added the word “sister” in his second statement, I suddenly wondered: are we meant to infer the presence of women in the room?
Given that first-century Jews often sex-segregated their gatherings and social spaces, my initial thought was that Jesus might well be teaching to a room exclusively full of men. But then why would he see fit to include sisters? And what of the mention of the mother role? How weird would it be to have Jesus saying, “Here’s my mom!” and pointing to a room o’ dudes? Jesus certainly said and did some weird things in the course of his ministry, but something about his choice of language makes me think he was talking to a mixed-sex room. At least in my mind, it makes more sense for Jesus to select his words to include women who are actually there.
And in light of these considerations, Jesus’ omission of fathers in his rundown of the spiritual family becomes conspicuous. But wait! The Father is there; he’s the one that the disciple does the will of. Whoever does God’s will is Jesus’ brother, sister, and mother, but not his father, because there is only one Father. God takes his role as the head of the family, the one with a Will for us to do. We may be brothers, sisters, even nurturing and teaching mothers in this family of God’s-will-doers, but God’s the Ultimate Progenitor here, leading us, working for us, and guiding us into his will.
Or something like that. I’m trying to put together the theology here, and I feel like I may not have articulated it, shall we say, optimally. I can’t point to a specific thing that’s wrong with it, but take it with a grain of salt. Sometimes we work out ideas that are new to us here on Chocolate Book. And sometimes we take metaphors further than they were intended to, and I can’t say for certain that isn’t what I’ve done today. It makes things strange when the flesh-and-blood family of biological offspring turns out to be an echo or shadow of our true spiritual family. What is the reality it points to? What is this new relationship between us that Jesus Christ has inaugurated, that he’s talking about with a roomful of dudes and probably ladies who are interested in living out what he has to say?
Maybe we’ll find out in our next post. After all, we have one more post to round out this week. Stay tuned for…precisely that!