Matthew 12:46-13:9 (ESV)

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” 13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

As Jesus concluded his teaching, he learned that his mother and brothers wanted to talk to him. His brothers, who were technically his half-brothers, wouldn’t believe in him until later, after his resurrection. His family may have hoped to prevent him from saying or doing anything foolish, so they probably showed up to “rescue” Jesus from himself. Jesus replies to the man who told him his mother and brothers were looking for him with a surprisingly counter-cultural statement: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Then he goes on, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (vv.48-50). In that society, a good son and brother would never reject his family for the unrelated crowds. Whatever the reason his family members came to him, Jesus affirmed that blood ties do not equate to spiritual bonds. Because the Lord’s agenda must come first, even above mother or brother, Jesus could not neglect what God called him to do in order to please his relatives. He physically pointed to the disciples around him and said those who serve the Lord with him have become his family. The true “mother and brother” of Jesus are the ones obedient to God. Jesus in no way dismisses love and loyalty to one’s relatives. Instead, he elevates love and loyalty to the family of God.

The family is an important unit in the world and in the church. We should love our husbands and our children, honor our parents, and look out for the interests of our brothers and sisters. At the same time, we must honor and look out for the interests of our spiritual family. How do you feel about your church family? Would you be comfortable calling them your mother and your brothers? Jesus was. Just as Jesus’ own family members didn’t understand him, some of our natural family members won’t understand us either. Let’s ask God to help us love our church family with a new passion, knowing that according to Jesus, they are related to us too. Again, we aren’t called to neglect our natural family and should always seek to love them. But at the same time, we must remember we are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. How are you showing love to your church family today?