In his final pronouncement against the religious leaders, scribes and Pharisees, Jesus revealed an insightful truth about identity. The leaders attempted to disassociate themselves with what their forefathers had done, but Jesus declared that they testified against themselves, because they still identified themselves as the sons of those who murdered the prophets and the righteous. Jesus declared that rather than disassociating themselves, they identified with them and committed even greater sins, by persecuting Jesus, the Son of God. These religious leaders demonstrate that we tend to continue to identify ourselves according to the flesh, with our biological parents, which then tends to connect us with their sin and failures. Even though Jesus was born of Mary and raised by Joseph, he always identified himself with his heavenly Father, rather than his earthly parents. This does not mean that he didn’t honor and care deeply for Mary and Joseph; he demonstrated his care for Mary, while entrusting her to the care of John as he life ebbed away.
Consider both Jesus’ example and his instruction to us. As a boy, when Mary referred to Joseph as “his father”, Jesus responded that he needed to be in His Father’s house, the temple. Later when Mary and his brothers came to him, he declared that his mothers and brothers were all those who did the will of his Father in Heaven. Finally, Jesus instructed us not to call anyone on earth, Rabbi, Father or Teacher, because those roles are filled by Jesus and God our Father. Why is this important? As Jesus demonstrated with the religious leaders of his day, how we identify ourselves, whose sons and daughters we consider ourselves to be, will impact our present behavior and our future. The more that we identify with our human fathers and mothers will lead us to following their behavior. The more that we identify ourselves with our heavenly Father and Jesus the more our present behavior and future will reflect them and disassociate ourselves with the sins of our fathers. In other words, Jesus’ example and teaching instructs us to honor our biological fathers and mothers, while at the same time identifying with Jesus and our heavenly Father.