The good and bad of family dynamics


Matthew 13:57 “And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.’ ”

Family dynamics are a funny thing! They ebb and flow depending on which members are together, but often the way things settle, they fall in place early in the family’s development. This interesting structure is never more obvious than at family gatherings.

Many of us have just enjoyed a family reunion this past week. Our original seven along with all the in-laws, and a growing number of grandkids descended on our house for a fun and energetic Thanksgiving weekend. In our case, we even had the added benefit of extended aunts and uncles, great-grandparents, and second cousins making quite a large and merry group.

As I stood on the sidelines and watched the interactions amongst all the participants during the meals, game-playing, and more, I noticed how different, yet how similar, things were to the past. At times like these, with close kin, nobody seems to know or really care about all of the education and degrees a person has accomplished.

You may be called Dr. at your place of employment or the respected Pastor in your parish, but in your home group you’re just Cousin Billy and Little Brother Jimmy. Even when the baby has grown a little stouter and maybe added a few gray hairs, she is still remembered as the kid sister.

It can be very restful and reassuring to fall back into the comfort of old family patterns where you can let down your guard and just be yourself, but sometimes it can be a real problem. Jesus spoke about the devastating effects of not moving out of the old days into the new for his earthly family and hometown.

After traveling many miles, teaching huge crowds through parables, healing the sick, and doing many miracles Jesus arrived back at His childhood home. As was His custom, He entered the synagogue and began teaching. All the homies sat with dropped jaws as they tried to process His eloquence and insight.

“Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name, Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where did this man get all these things?”

All the family and townspeople sat amazed at what they were seeing and hearing, but instead of reverencing Jesus as they should have, they took offense at Him. Since Jesus never sinned even as a child there could be no real past conflicts coloring the relationship, so it is likely that latent jealousies rose to the surface creating a roadblock to acceptance and belief. Jesus pointed out the commonality of this problem. “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

These types of unfortunate interactions have been happening for centuries, but none more devastating than for the town of Nazareth. The hometown people had the privilege of watching the Son of God grow up in a human body, but because of their lack of faith they missed out on all the benefits and miracles that could have been theirs. What a crying shame!

Our generation hasn’t had the privilege of playing games with Jesus as a child, but many of us have grown up hearing about Him since our youth. We must be careful not to let the familiarity of the Bible stories cause us to lose our sense of awe over His identity, presence, and the blessings that flow from Him and His life.

Family dynamics can be a strange thing but make sure they don’t get in the way of seeing the truth. Unlike the Nazarenes, fall at the feet of Jesus in worship every day.

Oh, and by the way, at your next family gathering, remember to slap Little Brother Jimmy on the back and congratulate him for all his accomplishments over the years. He likely has a lot to offer, and you can be a beneficiary.



Sandra Sheridan is a midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at

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