Yesterday, we looked at the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees. This account is followed by a story about what it means to be part of Jesus’ family:
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”This section of Matthew's Gospel has focused on the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees. We have seen how the Pharisees called Jesus demon-possessed. Now they are cynically asking Jesus for a sign of his identity. The Pharisees, it would seem, have made their decision. They are opposed to Jesus and his mission.
He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
However, it would seem that Jesus' family was opposed to his mission as well. Here Jesus’ family is standing outside. They are not part of his inner circle. In John 7:5 we read that his brothers did not believe in him. Mark 3:21 says that his family thought he was crazy.
What changed the attitude of Jesus’ family toward him? It was his resurrection. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:7 that Jesus made a special appearance to his brother James after his resurrection. James became the leader of the Jerusalem church. After his death he was succeeded by his brother Simeon. And so in Acts 1 we find Jesus’ mother and brothers gathered WITH his disciples in the upper room in prayer, waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Finally, and thankfully they came inside the circle.
But for now, they are outside. This little story shows us that it is not enough to be religious like the Pharisees. It is also not enough to be physically related to the Messiah himself. Neither religion nor family relationships will ultimately save any of us. There needs to be an acknowledgement of who Jesus is and a determined decision to follow him.
In the midst of all this static, with his family on the outside and the Pharisees actively opposing him, there are some people standing right around Jesus, humbly listening to him, ready to carry out his instructions. These people, Jesus says, are his true family. These people have been the good detectives; they have followed the clues and come to the right conclusion about “who done it”. They have decided that this man who casts demons out of people and heals them of their diseases must be the Messiah. They are going to follow this man no matter what others may say.
Is that your conclusion? Have you followed the clues leading to Jesus’ true identity? Are you part of Jesus’ real family? You can be, if you invite him to come and live in the temple of your heart. And once he does that, he promises, “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)