“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.” (verses 48-50)
There seems to be conflict and tension between Jesus and his own natural family. Mark gives us a little more detail in his account. He tells us that they’ve come to “take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind’” (Mark 3:21). Ouch.
It helps us realize that even for those closest at hand in Jesus’ earthly life, seeing wasn’t necessarily believing. The intervention of God, coming in human flesh, was simply too much for most people to get their minds around all at once – the comprehension didn’t come easily. Not even for mother and brothers. Wonderfully, though we’re not told how, they eventually did come around. His mother, Mary, faithfully attended him at the foot of the cross as he died, then witnessed the resurrection, and was with the gathered disciples in the Upper Room prior to Pentecost. One of Jesus’ brothers, James, ended up becoming a key leader in the early church in Jerusalem, writing a portion of the New Testament, as did another brother, Jude. Redemption comes.
But for the moment there is difficulty. Tension. Misunderstanding. Which is helpful for any who experience such family conflict in our own day. Jesus himself has been there. Indeed, he draws from his own experience later when he speaks of those who have “left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake” (Matthew 19:29). Our Lord knows.
But there is another pressing encouragement in this passage for any who have chosen to follow Jesus. Here it is: He counts us family! We’re part of his inner circle. We bear the same family name.
This is in line with the fact that we are called children of God. We have been adopted into the family of the Almighty, specially chosen, receiving the full rights of daughters and sons. We have a Father who loves us, calling us his own. Profound. Powerful. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that this is true. We look to heaven and say from our hearts, “Our Father.” And we find ourselves embraced.
And yet, what Jesus does here is different again. It takes the relationship from another angle, building intimate security on a different plane. For Jesus points us out, looking around the circle into our eyes, right at our level, side by side, one with us, and calls us family. He identifies himself with us, and us with him. As a brother, he welcomes us.
Oh, he is still Lord. Absolutely. For all eternity he commands our allegiance and reverence and worshipful adoration. Yet, he stands upon the earth, looks in the eyes of those gathered round, and speaks the words, “Here is my family.”
From the Gospel, these words echo now in my own ears, drawing me also into this familiarity of family relationship. My Lord is my brother. Praise his name.
Lord Jesus, thank you. Your acceptance gives security. I choose to walk with you this day. Praise you.
Reflect: Take time to simply sit in the Lord’s presence. Thank him for his love. Receive his acceptance afresh. Listen for his directions. Give him your day.