The Family of God
And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Picture the scene with me...
Jesus back in Capernaum.
Crowds surrounding him, his 12 disciples are nearest him.
He has just been accused of being in league with Satan
There is a mixture of emotions around Jesus, but all of it is tense.
At the outside of the crowd Jesus Family appears trying to get him to come home to Nazareth.
Imagine the message from Mary making its way by word of mouth through the crowd until it had reached Jesus.
Many probably expected Jesus to respect his mother’s wishes and return home with her.
His reply was startling.
These words would be startling in any culture, but in Hebrew culture where the family was so sacred, they were shocking! As the shock spread through the room it finally reaches Mary. Mary, who had given birth to Jesus, nursed him, raised him, and had been with him for 30 years until his ministry began. She had come for him in loving concern for his life, and I can only imagine how crushed she felt at this moment. Jesus brothers likewise probably felt shocked and angered by His words. Though we have the biblical perspective, as parents, brothers, and sisters we still find his words difficult. This is only of the many hard sayings of Jesus.
What did Jesus mean by his shocking answer?
First, He did not mean that he was severing family ties. In the final hours of his life, while he hung on the cross, he thought of his mother and made provision for her (John 19:26-27).
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he 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 to his own home.
Later his brother James would become a devoted father in the church and a martyr. Jesus held parenthood in the highest regard and reprimanded those who failed to give honor to their parents, as in the disgraceful use of Corban (Mark 7:9-13).
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban” ’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
While Jesus was not suggesting the breaking of family ties, he did acknowledge that Christian commitment would sometimes bring division within the family.
For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
What He did mean was that there is a deeper kinship than flesh and blood, a spiritual kinship that is characterized by obedience to the Father. Obedience doesn’t begin our relationship with God, Faith is the beginning. But obedience is the sign of our relationship. With Jesus shocking statement he was saying that there is a family that is far superior to the human family, for it is eternal. It’s ties are far stronger. It is far more satisfying. It is far more demanding. Those who are in his spiritual family are far more dear to him than his human family, with whom he lived for thirty years!
Implications for the Church
Implications for the Church
Obedience is the key to experiencing family with God.
This was true even for Jesus. He told his followers in John 4:34
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
and in Gethsemane, sweating blood he cried out, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Every moment of Jesus life was dedicated to performing his Father’s will. This was essential to the family experience with God.
If this was true for Christ, how much more for us? We are children of God, but our awareness of the sweetness of being in God’s family is conditioned upon our obedience.”
Obedience is the key to experiencing family with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
When we submit our lives to Christ we experience a dynamic relationship with those who are living in submission to Him.
One of my clearest experiences of this truth is when I’ve gone on a mission trip. I went to Peru a year or two ago and met believers that I didn’t know existed the morning before I met them. But it wasn’t awkward or hard to relate with them. It just felt like family. It felt like, even though we speak different languages, they could have been members of my church back home in the states. I could have had them over to my house for a meal. We could connect because we were united as family in our obedience to God.
Implications For Our Families
Implications For Our Families
The Danger of Family Worship
When we make the family everything. Every moment of every day, every involvement, every commitment, every engagement is measured and judged by the question, how will this benefit my family? While this may be good in moderation it can degrade into an idolization of family. The four walls of home become a temple, and only within and for those walls are any sacrifices made. Thus we commit a tragedy.
Jesus warned us about this in Matthew 10:37
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
How then do we love our families well, and not make them an idol?
By the family putting love and obedience to Christ above everything else.
You can’t love your spouse the way they ought to be loved. Only Christ can do that. But “We love because he first loved us.” We are able to love Jesus, and others as we respond to His love. Most of us need to be better at loving, but that begins at loving Christ better.
The same is true for our children. Making them everything will not enable us to love them as we ought, or make it possible for them to love us as they ought. We must love and obey God first. Anything less is idolatry.