Throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic we have learned about creating a support bubble. ‘A support bubble is a close network between a household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household of any size’ https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-a-support-bubble-with-another-household
This means that the single adult effectively creates one household with the other family or household. There are lots of lonely, single people out there who live alone – some like the independence while others are overwhelmed with the isolation. Nevertheless, there is strength in knowing that there is another household out there that you can be part of.
Matthew 12:46-50, ‘The True Family of Jesus. As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, His mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to Him. 47Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to You.”
48Jesus asked, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” 49Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look, these are My mother and brothers. 50Anyone who does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother!”’
Luke 8:21, ‘Jesus replied, “My mother and My brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”’
In Ancient world, families generally stayed close to their family home and place of birth. We find that in Matthew 12 and Luke 8, Mary and Jesus’ brothers and sisters are not yet part of His retinue – His support party; Mary had other children, sons and daughters after the birth of Jesus.
At the beginning of Luke 8, a number of women are listed who followed and supported Jesus – Mary is not named and would likely have been named if she was one of them. In Mark’s account (3:21), His family wanted to take Him home because they thought Jesus was out of His mind.
Perhaps this encounter with her son, when His words were relayed to her and His family by those who heard them, was the moment of transformation. Maybe this was the moment when Mary suddenly understood who her son really was, the Messiah, and that she needed to be with Him in His world and ministry more than being at home with the rest of her family and her grandchildren. I don’t know, but it is possible!
Jesus wasn’t out of His mind with the pressure of public ministry, but perfectly centred in His heavenly Father’s higher purpose. It is often when we are confronted by Christ’s truth that we are changed. Jesus said that His spiritual family were His true family – the body of Christ. His spiritual family were those who do God’s will – Luke adds that Jesus further defined His meaning, ‘those who hear God’s word and obey it.’
Tradition tells us that Mary became a widow – later, she certainly became one of the women who travelled with Jesus, supported His ministry and followed His teachings. We are not told if Jesus’ siblings were believers before His death and resurrection – afterwards they became His followers and some were key leaders in the early church.
Mary’s travels with Jesus ultimately led to Jerusalem on that fateful week before His death – His brothers and sisters may still have been in Galilee with families of their own. It is important to note that Jesus was really concerned about His mother at the foot of the Cross.
Therefore, on the Cross, Jesus committed His mother into John’s support bubble. John 19:26-27, ‘When Jesus saw His mother standing there beside the disciple He loved, He said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27And He said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.’
Our grandson loves a bubble machine that sits at the door into our living room. He has just turned two, but has known how to refill it, start it, and make the most of the bubbles for months since Lockdown reopened. Each bubble is unique and he loves popping them. Sometimes he is completely surrounded by all the bubbles.
It is so easy to get rooted in the way things are, and the way things have been, that we miss God’s still small voice urging us to consider change. Mary was surrounded by her family, except one, the Lord Jesus. Her son had left home to go and create a new support bubble with those who were not part of His natural family.
Jesus was creating disciple-makers and world changers – men and women of faith who, when filled with the Spirit, were not afraid of the cost of following Him; self-sacrifice and spiritual authority went hand in hand in their lives as they began building His Church and establishing His Kingdom in this world.
Jesus was establishing a new spiritual family – one focussed on doing the will of God, hearing and obeying His words. He stepped beyond the expected and the normal to pursue the call of God on His life. He didn’t forget His mother, but He valued more those committed to following Him and obeying His Father’s word. Creating a support bubble is not easy – creating a spiritual one is even harder. Is God speaking through these words…
- I wonder is there something in this idea of a Social Bubble that we in the UK Church can learn from? Is this another way to engage with those who are single and create a spiritual bubble that includes them?
- I wonder if it is possible for us to get as much pleasure and satisfaction from a spiritual bubble as our grandson derives from his bubble making machine?
- Jesus set us an example of absolute commitment to His Father’s will. It was His relationship to His Father that was the rock or foundation of His life. Every other relationship was an extension of His primary relationship to God. His strength was derived from God, not from other people.
- It is Christ’s truth that challenges us, and if we submit to it – has the power to change us in Christ-honouring ways. As we ponder these thoughts – may God guide us in the way we should go.
Father, there are so many in our nation who are struggling under the pressure of this season of uncertainty, infection and threat. We pray for the anointing of Your Spirit to minister Your grace to many in person and online. Guide us as we consider a spiritual bubble for those are single. We confess that, in Christ, You are the foundation and the source of everything we need for life, worship and Christ’s service. Lord Jesus, we follow You. Amen