JOINING GOD'S NOMADIC FAMILY



As we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, we find a man who lived at home and entered his father Joseph’s carpentry business. Then at age thirty, he left the woodworking and began a nomadic quest to meet people and promote the Kingdom of God.

Even as a young man of twelve years, Jesus wandered from the security of mom and dad to visit the Temple where he made conversation with the priests. 

From an early age He was driven to think about the Heavenly Father’s business.

There is no evidence that Jesus ever married, but evidently some of the disciples did so. As Jesus understood His mission, there would not be a wife in his thirties or any little boys and girls growing up in his house.

Instead, He found other men and called them away from their pre-occupation with work. Away from the fishing trade, the tax collector’s table and political activism—they were called to follow God’s nomad through the wilderness. They were called from pre-occupation to a higher occupation.

Once a woman was impressed by His teaching and spoke like a proud mother to him.


Luke 11:
27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”


In the woman’s comment we hear a great affirmation of Jesus’ character. He was a fine young man who would make a mother proud. But, instead of thanking her and moving on, Jesus points to a greater truth. It is true that a parent is blessed when their children turn out well, but more important is the person’s receptivity to God and their obedience.

On one hand I see Jesus showing great respect and obedience toward parents. At the same time he demonstrates a larger social contextualization than was provided by his family and tribe of origin.

Another example demonstrates an allegiance that includes, but supersedes his family of origin.


Mark 3:
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”


Jesus points to a context that is greater than the tribalism He was raised in. Ancient Hebrew culture was intimately tied to one’s family of origin. What tribe were you a part of? The ancestors and many of the people in the countryside were nomadic.

In ‘The Nomadic Lifestyle of the Ancient Hebrews’ author Jeff Benner says,

A nomadic camp consisted of about 25 to 50 members. Any less and it would be difficult to protect the family and any more would be difficult to feed. Usually the oldest member of the family was the head, or chief, of the clan. The remainder of the clan would consist of his brothers, sons, nephews and grandsons as well as their wives. Each clan was an independent entity with the chief as judge and ruler. He had the ultimate authority in all manners including where they go, discipline, management of the flocks and herds and the daily tasks of the camp.
When a clan became too large to support it was divided and separated with all of the clans belonging to one tribe. The name of the tribe was generally that of the original family patriarch and each clan carried the name of its original patriarch.[i]

An entire nation of people traced their ancestry back to the twelve sons of Jacob. Jesus came preaching a Kingdom that encompassed all nations and tribes, most of which were considered ‘the others’ to Israel.



[i] Jeff A. Benner, The Nomadic Lifestyle of the Ancient Hebrews. http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/33_nomadic.html

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