One Father by James R. Coggins

In Mark 3:20-35, when Jesus’ “mother and brothers” came to see Him, Jesus apparently refused to see them. In speaking to the crowd in Mark 3:34, Jesus said that His mother and brothers are those who do God’s will. In Mark 3:35, Jesus also mentioned “sisters.”

Jesus did not use words carelessly. It is interesting that Jesus mentioned mothers, sisters, and brothers but not fathers. One supposes that this may have been because Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, had apparently already died and was no longer around. But sisters were not there either, and yet Jesus mentioned them.

Jesus did not mention fathers because fathers have authority. By grace, we may be Jesus’ brothers and sisters, but we cannot be His father. He has authority over us. We do not have authority over Him. Jesus said, “Do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9)

Jesus seems to have used Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee as His home base (Mark 1:21; 2:1). Interestingly, that is where Peter and Andrew lived (Mark 1:29-30). Jesus had just called the fisherman James and John and Peter and Andrew to follow Him, so they may all have been from the same town. John 1:44 suggests that Philip was from Bethsaida, the same town that Peter and Andrew were from. Bethsaida (which means “house of fishing”) was a few miles farther east along the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. It is possible that Peter and Andrew grew up in Bethsaida and then moved to the larger city of Capernaum (or, less likely, vice versa).  

Of the women who followed Jesus, Mark 15:40 and 16:1 name two Marys and Salome. Matthew 27:56 names two Marys and “the mother of Zebedee’s sons.” John 19:25 names two Marys, Mary the mother of Jesus, and His mother’s sister. If we assume that Salome is the mother of Zebedee’s sons and also Jesus’ mother’s sister, that could make James and John first cousins of Jesus. It might explain why they were so ready to follow Him and why they thought they were entitled to sit at His right and left hands (be second and third in power in Jesus’ Kingdom, Mark 10:35-45). This might explain why Jesus settled in Capernaum, the home of His cousins. This is not impossible. After all, John the Baptist was also a relative. But there were many women who followed Jesus, and the identification mentioned above is not certain.

The bottom line is that bloodlines do not bring anyone into God’s Kingdom, but they do not keep anyone out either.

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is
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