Summary: Family is foundational but following Christ must come first.
Joining the Right Family
Rev. Brian Bill
April 23-24, 2016
The Bridger Wilderness Area in Wyoming is one of the most pristine areas for hiking in the United States. A number of years ago hikers were asked to fill out comment cards. Here are some of their actual complaints…
• Please avoid building trails that go uphill; escalators would help on steep sections.
• Too many bugs and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests.
• The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
• A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed?
• A McDonalds would be nice at the trailhead.
• There are TOO Many Rocks...
These comments and complaints reveal that most of us are looking for that which is comfortable and convenient. I wonder how our high schoolers will do when they rough it out in Colorado this summer? In a similar way some of us push back when Christ calls us to radical commitment. As we learned a couple weeks ago, Jesus doesn’t want fickle fans; He wants faithful followers.
Last week we reflected on some strong reactions to Jesus. His family thought He was mad and the religious leaders believed he was bad. The scribes thought He was demonized and those closest to Him thought He was deranged. We learned that the unforgivable sin is attributing the mighty miracle working power of Jesus to Satan.
In our text today we return to the natural family of Jesus. We’ll see how Jesus shakes up our sense of comfort in verses 31-35: “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.’”
After reflecting on these verses, I wrote down this summary statement: Family is foundational but following Christ must come first. There are three things going on in our passage.
• An urgent request from family (31-32)
• A startling rhetorical question about family (33)
• A radical redefinition of family (34-35)
Let’s drill down and follow the flow.
1. An urgent request from family. We see in verse 31 that Jesus is in a house teaching to a packed audience: “And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him.” The word “and” has the idea of “then,” referring to what happens next. There are so many people crowded into the house that his family can’t get close enough to get his attention. This had to be frustrating for them because they had hiked 30 miles from Nazareth to Capernaum through a lot of rocks to do an “intervention” and now they couldn’t even have a conversation with Jesus.
Some of you are wondering how Jesus could have siblings because you’ve been taught that Jesus was Joseph and Mary’s only child. Listen. While his earthly mother Mary was a virgin when she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit, she and Joseph had other children after Jesus was born.
The word “brothers” literally means, “from the same womb.” The word for “relatives” was available but the gospel writers use the word for brother. Let’s ponder a few other passages where we see that Jesus not only had four brothers (half-brothers), but sisters as well.
Matthew 13:55-56: “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us?”
Acts 1:14: “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”
Galatians 1:19: “But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.”
Let’s go back to verse 31 so we see how urgent this request is from the family. The word for “called” refers to a summons and has a sense of authority behind it. When I was growing up and would be playing in the backyard and my mom would call me in for supper I might eventually meander into the house. But if my dad whistled, I knew from experience that I better come running. These family members are urging Jesus to stop what He’s doing and to come immediately.
Let me make the obvious point that instead of joining Jesus in what He’s doing, they are trying to get Jesus to do what they want. We often do the same, don’t we? We want Jesus to bless what we’ve got going on instead of lining our lives up with His plans and purposes. Here’s a good prayer to pray: “God, show me where you’re working so I can partner with you to accomplish your will.”