Summary: We struggle with this sometimes; what should the priority be when we have both family and ministry obligations. Here is one solution.
Passage: Matthew 12:46-50
Intro: We have all heard the stories.
1. a missionary who devotes his life to evangelism, but his own kids are lost.
2. the devoted pastor whose kids end up on drugs.
Il) I had a professor at Seminary who, as a pastor, had never seen his high school son play in one BBall game in 4 years.
3. this kid of conflict is not limited to full-time ministers and missionaries.
4. every believer experiences times when family responsibilities seem to conflict with the spiritual.
5. and so the pendulum tends to swing, from one extreme to the other, and ineffectiveness either as parents or as servants of God seems to be the unavoidable outcome.
6. but into this dilemma comes the example of Jesus.
7. and in this short passage, combined with Scriptures from all over the Bible, I believe we find a very workable solution.
I. The Human Family is a Gracious Part of God’s Common Grace
1. common grace describes the good things that God gives to all people which are not part of salvation.
PP) the baby on the lounge with a verse
2. the family was one of God’s first creations for the good of man.
PP Genesis 1:28
3. parents are called to instruct, guide their children, care for them.
4. it is a good thing to be part of a family, a blessing from God, filling our lives with good things
PP Psalm 127:5
5. and this is the context that we need to apply to our passage today.
6. v46, Jesus is preaching, instructing, doing the will of God.
7. family shows up, let’s look carefully at the situation.
8. “they stood outside” so they wanted him to stop what he was doing.
9. “wanting to speak” infinitive equals purpose.
10. we need to go somewhere else to get further info.
PP Mark 3:21
11. it is the same story, but his brothers did not believe in Him
PP John 7:1-5
12. here is the bottom line.
13. as good as the family was created to be, there are times when it is a structure overtaken by sin.
14. the things given by God’s common grace are spoiled by sin.
Il) 14 year old girl locked in her room, starved, beaten by her parents. Clearly not a part of God’s grace, but man’s sin.
15. so there is a conflict here in this passage, and a choice has to be made.
II. Faced with Conflicting Expectations, Jesus Prioritizes His Spiritual Family
1. Jesus lays out the question here in v48
2. He is not just responding to a situation, but making a statement of principle to be applied in this situation.
3. should He go out and respond to the priorities of his earthly family, who wanted him to stop His ministry?
4. instead, He looked at this motley assortment of people with whom He had no earthly connection beyond Jewishness.
5. and He answered His own question of v48 in dramatic fashion.
6. he “pointed with his hand” and then He said, “behold my mother and my brothers.”
7. He was saying, “here is my family.”
8. but what is the principle? That is crucial for us.
9. he pointed to those chosen by God, those who had believed and would be filled by the Spirit, and prioritized them above his earthly family.
10. forced to make a choice, He chose the family put together by God’s saving grace rather than God’s common grace.
11. those who do the will of my Father are my family, this new family made up of new people.
12. and what is God’s will?
PP John 6:28-29
13. this is how we are adopted into God’s eternal family.
14. and our priorities are changed to become like His.
15. and when that puts us at odds with the sinful human desires of our human family, we choose God.
III. Enjoy the Full Grace of God Now and Forever.
1. Jesus isn’t knocking the family here, just making sure priorities are sound.
2. v50 makes it very clear that in terms of relationship, the heavenly, eternal family of God has first priority.
3. but that doesn’t not mean our earthly families are left out.
4. what it does is bring a whole new dynamic to this wonderful gift of God’s common grace known as family.
5. we are encouraged now to build our earthly families around our common faith in Jesus Christ.
6. and the priorities of God now become the priorities of our family, to be participated in together.
Il) a few years ago, Christmas fell on Sunday. Disaster!! But what is so terrible about the family going to church on Christmas morning?
7. prioritizing the Christian nature of the family means you reject those activities that consistently conflict with normal activities that grow your families faith.