Jesus' words had to sting Mary's heart. They would have caught her without warning. She had come once earlier with her sons to rescue Jesus from the pressing crowds. They were worried he was losing his sense of reality because the incessant pressure of people didn't even give him time to eat.

They had come to him again, and as they drew near, someone in the crowd told him they were there (Mark 3:31-32). So his words would have felt harsh and unnecessary. I wonder how Mary understood them?

"Who are my mother and my brothers?" Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother" (Mark 3:33-35 NIV).

Transitions for parents and children are hard enough, but imagine being Mary and raising the Savior of the world! How do you understand that kind of pressure? How do you deal with the pressure that comes from the angels revealing that your son is the Son of God, the Messiah, and the Savior of the world?

Mary surely had to wonder why Jesus didn't do what she thought the Messiah should do!

  • Why didn't he destroy the Romans? He clearly had the power.
  • Why didn't he bring down the corrupt Jewish leaders? He lived and taught a different way of life?
  • Why didn't he use his power for himself and reveal his glory to everyone and take the throne of his great forefather, King David?

These kinds of confusing difficulties first showed themselves when they went to the Temple for Passover when Jesus was twelve. That was the first time that Mary was hurt and confused by the behavior and words of her son.

"Why are you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49).

Joseph was still alive at the time, and neither of them understood exactly what Jesus meant. However, this was an early clue: the transition had begun. Even though he would go home for eighteen years and obey them, then take over the carpenter shop, and take care of Mary and the family business, the process had begun (Luke 2:50-52).

Mary was being called to move from seeing Jesus as her son to seeing Jesus as her Savior. He was no longer her little boy; she was being called to see him as her Lord!

This was not an easy transition for Mary or for her other children. No one in the family, or in the little hamlet of Nazareth where they lived, expected anything great of Jesus (Mark 6:1-5). Mary had the announcements of Jesus' amazing conception from the angels, but where were the angels now? Jesus' brothers didn't believe in him until later, and they ridiculed him for thinking he might be someone special (John 7:1-5).

Isn't it helpful to see Mary deal with issues we face?
This episode of sibling rivalry occurred after Jesus had already miraculously turned the water to wine at a family wedding and had begun to collect his followers (John 2:1-12). Even the wedding miracle had created some difficult moments for Mary with Jesus (John 2:3-4). Yet Mary's words to the wedding servants revealed that she was beginning the transition from mother of the Messiah to a disciple of the Lord. "Do whatever he tells you!" she had told them (John 2:5).

We find ourselves in that time of year where parents and children are facing all sorts of transitions — graduations from high school and college, engagement announcements, weddings, and baby showers fill our calendar. So isn't it comforting to know that Jesus, God with us in human flesh, had to face the challenging issues of transition from childhood and sibling rivalry? Isn't it helpful to see Mary deal with issues we face, and through her own journey, she helps us see more clearly how to navigate our own? Mary can be our window to wonder!

So what can we learn from this time of transition for Mary and Jesus? A couple principles grab my heart.

  • We want our kids to follow Jesus and obey God even more than we want them to be close to us! Following Jesus as his disciples makes them part of God's family and our eternal family.
  • Transitions from childhood to adulthood are normal and challenging. From the moment they begin to ooch, scoot, wiggle, crawl, and walk we know that they are moving away from us. We must try not to see this as leaving, but more intentionally launch them into adulthood!
  • This is a crucial issue where prayer, shared community of faith in God, and spiritual mileposts are important. More than just celebrating the secular rites of passage, let's develop some church and family rites of passage and invest in our children's move toward adulthood in the context of faith.

I'm sure you've got an idea or two, so I hope you will share them in the comment box ( or on our Facebook page ( The main thing is that we can be, and must be, more intentional about helping our children make the transition to adulthood with faith!

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