Matthew 12:48-50 “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” …And stretching out his hand toward 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.”
My parents came to visit last night. As we had not seen each other in some time, we had some catching up to do. Conversation eventually drifted towards this blog, so, we talked about this passage and its meaning. My father is a pastor and my mother knows the Bible well, so they had some good insight into it. The conversation got me thinking about family and what Jesus meant here.
I have no doubt who my family is. I grew up with them. I can show you photographs and produce a birth certificate proving who my mother and father are. Jesus, likewise, knew who his family was but He provided a very different set of qualifications.
In the passage, Jesus’ biological mother and brothers came to where He was speaking and wished to see him. He used the opportunity to insist that his real family were only those who followed his heavenly father. Jesus family consisted not of those who claimed to be related, but only those who had an intimate relationship with God and did what He said.
My own father reminded me that James, brother of Jesus, was likely there and at that time, did not believe in Jesus as the messiah. It is no coincidence then, that James later wrote, after coming to belief, that those who profess faith in God must obey him. Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:17). James likely remembered the lesson of that day, that only those who obey God were part of his family.
Jesus did not say that I am saved by what I do. He never contradicted that we are saved by faith. Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). I am struck though, by how many times Jesus insisted that my faith will be judged by whether I follow or not. I may be saved by my faith, but my faith will be measured by my obedience. If my faith in God is real, it must change how I live my life.
I tend to think that I am part of God’s family just because I claim to be a Christian. Jesus said that is not how it works. He said if I claim to be family just because I want a piece of the inheritance, I am an imposter. If I do not have an intimate relationship with the father and if I do not do what He says, I am a fraud. When such people claimed to be family, Jesus said He did not know them.
So, if I want to be family, I need to act like it. I need to daily invest in my relationship with the father and I need to follow him. I am not family because I say I am. I am family because I act like am.