Jesus wanted to be in His Father’s House!
When Jesus was about to be born, he decided to be born through the Virgin Mary. It was not just a miracle or supernatural birth. It was a statement: I do not want to belong to any bloodline. Jesus proclaimed that God was His Father by being born from the Virgin Mary. He started a new family whose Father was God.
So many times, tribes and peoples have fought against each other to protect their own bloodlines. Kings and heads of the tribes have tried to preserve their heirs to keep the names of their families. The Virgin birth of Jesus defies all those futile efforts. He asked us to follow him in that matter, too.
The Festival of the Passover was the birthday of the Jewish people. When the Israelites were captives and slaves in Egypt, God heard their cries. He sent Moses and delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians. On the day of Passover, all the firstborn of the Egyptian families were killed by the angels of God, but the firstborn of the Israelites were preserved when the angels passed over the houses with the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. Every year, the Israelites celebrate the freedom from slavery and the birth of their independent Israelite nation during the Festival of Passover. It is a national holiday to celebrate their independence!
Jesus had heated discussions with the rabbis and teachers of the Temple. He proclaimed that all humanity is one family under one Father, the Creator. He proclaimed the dependence upon God as children of God’s Family. Jesus was just twelve years old, but everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
They did not understand Jesus because they still had the old framework of a biological family.
Joseph and Mary were people of the tradition. So are we. It is so natural for us to take care of our biological families. We should do that. However, we should not stop there. After we take care of our own parents and children, we should expand the concept of our family to take care of our neighbors. Jesus said, “Love your neighbors as yourself!” In other words, Jesus commanded us to expand our concept of our family and serve others as our parents, our brothers, and our children.
After the Temple incident, Jesus went down to Nazareth with Joseph and Mary and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and people. He became wise enough to know that all the human beings had to live together. His stature grew to include all strangers as his family. His ministry demonstrated that his world was ever expanding to include Samaritan women, prostitutes, Roman centurions, and the so-called “unclean” people like lepers, lame people, bleeding people, etc. Jesus embraced them all as his brothers and sisters and cured them and loved them. His action was offensive to so many traditional Jewish people and “righteous” people. Even friendly people could not understand him and opposed such an open mind, open heart, and open door policy.
Whom should we follow: Jesus or the World?
This is still a struggle in our community. Should we open our doors to everybody? How much openness is safe? Everybody is at a different point in his or her faith journey and everybody’s answer is different. There is no right or wrong answer. Simply everybody’s maturity is different. However, we know the direction. Each year, our openness should get bigger. Each year, we need to embrace more strangers. That should be our direction. Everybody’s pace is different. Some people can open their heart quickly, while some are really careful and open super-slowly. Here again, there is no right or wrong speed. Each person has to take a pace that they can handle. However, here again, the direction is clear. We have to be more and more open every year.
Stephen Ministers take strangers as their brothers and sisters.
Today we commission Marian Lee as a new Stephen Minister for our church. Our church already has more than 10 Stephen Ministers. They walk the walk with those who are in crises and help them to come out of their crises by empowering them and supporting them. Marian Lee went through 50 hours of training for confidentiality and empathetic listening skills. This is one of the ways to expand our family in God. Others serve homeless shelters and Meals on Wheels as an expression of the expansion of their families. Others visit homebound people and call them as their expression of love of God’s family. If you are good at listening and keeping secrets, being a Stephen Minister is a good way to adopt strangers and your brothers and sisters in God. May God bless all our efforts to be in our Father’s house! We are not going back to our biological parents’ houses, but are staying with our Father here to do ministry! May God bless all those who make that decision today!
- Where are your biological families now? Who serves them for you?
- Whom do you serve as your brothers and sisters here in your community?