Baker Academic

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What Would Jesus Do on Mother's Day? - Le Donne

A short excerpt from my Historical Jesus: What Can We Know and How Can We Know It? pp.45-46:

The standard objection I've heard to this line of reasoning is that Jesus seems to show concern for his mother from the cross: "When Jesus then saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!'" (John 19:26).

To my mind, both interactions stem from an early and widespread impression of Jesus' preaching career.  Many of Jesus' followers carried forward the message that biological families were secondary to the metaphorical family of those who "hear the word of God and obey it" (either secondary, or altogether contrary to the the new kingdom of God).  In short, the words from John's crucifix contribute to the general impression that Jesus encouraged his followers to form a metaphorical family, one not based on biological ties or patrilineage.

So, the question:  What would Jesus do on Mother's Day?


  1. He would honour her according to one of the commandments.

    1. Thanks Anton, your comment seems obviously correct at first glance. But Jesus asks the question: "who is my mother and my brothers?" Relatedly, E.P. Sanders' portrait of Jesus was almost always well within the bounds of Jewish Halakha relative to his time and place. Yet, as Prof. Keith recently reminded me, the fifth commandment is the one commandment that Sanders finds difficult to square with Jesus' teachings.


  2. The thing that alway struck me about this story is that in spite of the harsh rebuke, Mary ignores it and instructs the servants to "do whatever he tells you." Perhaps they both felt like outcasts at this family (?) wedding?