Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:20-21, 31-35; Luke 8:19-21
Jesus’ True Family
Today we take up a passage of Scripture in which Jesus teaches us just what constitutes “family” in the kingdom of God. Furthermore, this passage will provide us an opportunity to weigh Scripture with Scripture so that we may come to a correct understanding. Throughout the Church’s history, she has taught a principle of interpretation called, “the analogy of faith,” whereby she means that Scripture must interpret Scripture, so that one verse of Scripture, which may seem difficulty to understand, is made clearer by another on the same topic. This way one verse of Scripture is not made to dominate the clear teaching of the rest of the Bible.
In this passage, while Jesus is teaching the people, someone comes and informs him that his mother and brothers are waiting outside to speak with him. (Incidentally, this passage provides us with a clue that Joseph had probably passed away by the time of Jesus’ ministry.) Jesus answers by saying that his mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it. Now this strikes us as being standoffish of Jesus, if not disrespectful, towards his mother. It also seems to devalue the natural family.
In answer to these charges, Scripture highly values and blesses family life. We could begin with the commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” which even comes before, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:12-13). On the cross, Jesus commended his mother to John’s care (John 19:26-27). Again, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for twisting the Scriptures so that one would not have to take care of one’s parents in their old age (Matthew 15:1-9). And Paul says directly that anyone who refuses to take care of his own family is worse than an unbeliever (First Timothy 5:8). What was certainly painful for Jesus was that his own family doubted him. Although Mary surely knew of his special role in God’s plan, given his exceptional birth, yet Mark 3:21 tells us that his family wanted to seize him for they thought, “He is out of his mind.” John 7:5 tells us that even his brothers did not believe in him, though after his resurrection some did (Acts 1:14), namely James and Jude, whose letters bear their names. So if you have trouble witnessing to your own family, know that Jesus had the same problem.
Still, the blood of Christ makes us “kingdom” family (Hebrews 2:11-12). We are married to our spouses only till death, and in heaven we will be like the angels (Romans 7:1-3; Matthew 22:30). Faith in Christ makes us brethren. And in heaven, we will have no sinful natures impeding our fellowship.