Summary: What is God’s Family and how do you join it? Jesus redefines family, contrasts it with our earthly family and tells us how to join and what it’s like in his family.
The idea of family is always morphing in our society. Just in the past fifty years we’ve gone from June Cleaver to Uma Thurman. In the 1950’s the woman wore pearls and waited in high heels for her man to come home so she could greet him with a martini, a paper and dinner on the table. Today in movies like "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" the men are left holding the purses of the women superheros as they fly off to save the world.
I’m not saying that either version of family is correct - in fact, neither is. Children were to be seen and not heard - today our society tells us that we are evil if we even discipline our children at all. We have had so much divorce that people have to write books on how to blend new families together. The very definition of family has been called into question as issues like gay marriage come to the fore.
Our definition of family changes with the times - but Jesus’ definition of family never changes and it is in fact very different from ours. When Jesus came to earth He presented to us a new type of family - and told us that the family of God is more important than the family of man.
First he shows us how different this new family is from the world’s - by who He includes. Next He describes a little bit how to become a member of this new family - then contrasts it with His earthly family. Finally He demonstrates that life as a part of this new family is radically different than what you have experienced before.
Verses 1 - 3 The Women of Jesus’ Ministry
In our 21st century mindset we don’t realize the significance of these verses. Jesus regularly had women as a part of his ministry team. In fact, this verse tells us that women played an important role in financing His ministry. Women in the 1st century were invisible in society and they had few rights. In fact, there is a great article published on our website for registered users that details just how 2nd class citizens women were. Rabbis of the time, in fact, wouldn’t even bother teaching women, much less having them travel with them.
Yet Jesus treats them with honor. Here three women are mentioned - they are significant because all of them would witness Jesus’ death on the cross.
Mary Magdalene - not a prostitute - but a woman plagued by serious demon possession. She did hold a leadership position - one of the last at the cross and the first to see the resurrected Jesus. She came from the city of Magdala most likely. Joanna - was the wife of one of Herod’s stewards named Chuza. Chuza could have been in charge of one of Herod’s many estates. She would have been a powerful woman - and I think it’s ironic that one of Herod’s employees follows Jesus. You really have no idea just who you influence as you stand up for Jesus. Then there is Susanna - which we know nothing about.
They became part of Jesus’ family - a family where everyone is equal, no matter whether they are a woman or even demon possessed.
Verses 9 - 15 The Parable of the Sower
Farmers in those days didn’t dig neat rows and put seeds under ground - they literally tossed seeds out - so some would land on the path, some in the rocks, and some among the soil.
The problem is not the seed or the farmer - but the condition of the receiving soil.
A yield of 7 to 10 times would be considered good - a crop of a hundred fold would be considered miraculous.
I think we are dealing with two distinct people - who each fall into two groups. Group 1 are not saved, group 2 are. What they have in common is that they have heard the gospel - and the gospel is true no matter how it is received.
The Hard Soil - The hard hearted are like the Pharisees who reject Jesus outright. The Devil is all too glad to give them reasons to throw off the seeds of the gospel - just as today our intellect, philosophy, and love of pleasure, wealth, and power conspire to effectively block the truth from reaching hearts.
God’s Word, though - can pierce even the hardest of souls - and that should season our prayers.
The rocky soil - it’s like people who have an emotional response to the gospel but never really believe. They might be called "make believers." They hang around the church, learn the lingo and the songs - maybe even carry a Bible - but they are either in it for some selfish reason or there because it feels good - but they have not given their lives to Jesus Christ and as soon as Christianity doesn’t feel good anymore they are out of there.