Updates, anyone?

Thought for the day … don’t worry, not all these blogs are going to turn out to be Bible studies. I’m a little weird; I like finding obscure bits in the Bible and chasing the rabbit down the trail to see where it goes. I actually enjoyed the theology subjects in Bible college. The lecturer would sometimes apologise for the dry subject matter; I’d be like, “What are you talking about? This is great stuff!”

So.

Luke 11:27-28 … As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

I’m challenged by this. The lady points out that at one point, in the past, Jesus’ mother did a wonderful thing. Jesus counters this, not by denying it, but in His usual “raise the bar” manner: “Yeah, that’s great … but I’m not just interested in once-upon-a-time. I want your faith to be real and current. The past is wonderful; but the present could be incredible! Better to be in relationship with Me NOW than to try to claim on something you had with Me/did for Me THEN.”

Jesus doesn’t quite say, “I wish Mum still believed in Me,” but the implication is there. The above passage from Luke follows His teaching about driving out demons by the finger of God, not by satanic power. The same teaching is found in Mark 3; in Mark’s account, His mother and brothers were just outside with the men in white coats. The hint is, “You guys are more family than they are.” He says in v 35, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Again with the contrast! Jesus said that He could raise up Abrahamic descendants from the rocks; in our lingo this might translate, “Jew schmew! You people grow on trees! But where are the faithmeisters?” Family ties aren’t enough to claim relationship with God. You can’t be born a Christian. But do God’s will (believe in the One He sent, hear and obey) and you qualify. Descendants of Abraham’s genes are special; but it’s descendants of Abraham’s FAITH that Jesus is most interested in.
Interesting that Luke and Mark were each struck by different things in this one episode. Luke, the Greek: update your faith. Mark, the Jew: update your lineage. And it’s good to know that, like so many of us imperfect humans, His mother and at least one of His brothers got their updates in the end.

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