On Sunday, we heard Jesus challenge the idea that “family is everything.” Instead, Jesus told us that He must be everything, and have a higher place in our loyalty and devotion than any other family relationship.
Having let that truth sink in, it’s important for us to clarify a further point. While it’s true that family is not everything, this does not mean that family is nothing. In fact, the New Testament has some important things to say about our legitimate responsibilities to our family.
A key example is when the Apostle Paul tells us that “if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God… if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:4, 8).
Adult children have a responsibility to provide for their parents when necessary. We see this in action with Jesus Himself. As the first-born son, and with Mary more than likely a widow at this point, Jesus had the responsibility of providing for His mother. And while He was in the midst of the anguish of the cross, He fulfilled this responsibility by tasking John with her care (John 19:26-27).
This example is an important counter-balance to our text on Sunday, in which Jesus ignored Mary in a way that would have been quite offensive in that culture (Mark 3:31-35). While at times it was necessary to keep Mary at arm’s length, especially when she was threatening to interfere with His ministry (see also John 2:4), this did not erase His responsibility to provide for her.
Family is not everything. Family is not nothing, either.