“Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine (Rom. 16:13).”
But Rufus’ mother in the flesh was not Paul’s mother.
Paul also says “I recommend to you our sister Phoebe (v. 1),” but there is no mention in the Bible of Paul’s family in the flesh.
He even speaks of Timothy and Titus in a very intimate way: “Timothy, my own son,” and “Titus, mine own son” (1 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4).
Peter had a wife, but there are no verses to tell us about his children, yet he says he had a son, Mark, who was in actuality the cousin of Barnabas.
In John 19, when the Lord Jesus nearing the end of His crucifixion, He looked at His mother.
- And there were standing by the cross of Jesus…Then Jesus, seeing His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing by, said to His mother, Woman, behold, your son. Then He said to the disciple, Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. (John 19:25-27)
It was as if He were saying to her, “Mother, don’t behold Me, but behold your son.” At the same time He said to His cousin John, “Behold, your mother.”
There are no wasted words in the Bible, so what does all this mean?
How could the Lord’s mother become the mother of His disciple, and how could His disciple become the son of His mother? By redemption? Certainly not. It could only be by life, by a life union, by a life which regenerates. By His death, the Lord imparted Himself to John the disciple, who was united to and identified with the Lord by the divine life.
The word of the Lord Jesus to John and to His mother was a word to show us that His life-imparting, life-releasing death transfers people’s lives.
Peter was Mark’s father, but not his father in the flesh. He had become his father in the spirit, his father in the common faith. Likewise, John was not Mary’s son and Mary was not John’s mother. But through the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection, John became Mary’s son. This is not the story of adoption, but of a transfer…a transfer according to another life—the divine life.
Note 2 in The Holy Bible Recovery Version on John 20:17
Previously, the most intimate term the Lord had used in reference to His disciples was “friends” (15:14-15). But after His resurrection He began to call them “brothers,” for through His resurrection His disciples were regenerated (1 Pet. 1:3) with the divine life, which had been released by His life-imparting death, as indicated in 12:24…Through His death and resurrection the Father’s only begotten became the Firstborn among many brothers (Rom. 8:29).
Now, we are the many brothers of Christ, and we have a sweet relationship in life with all of the other believers for eternity.
- Jesus said, Truly I say to you, There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, But that he shall receive a hundred times as much now at this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming age, eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30)
Listen to hear more on the process Christ went through to make us brothers in Christ from John 20