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.”  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.”Matthew 12:46-50
A brother is someone with whom you share the same parents. That’s in the strict sense of the word. But actually, we use the word ‘brother’ much more broadly. You probably have a friend, or even friends, of whom you might say, “he’s like a brother to me.” I certainly have a good bunch of friends of whom this could be said. Indeed, the term ‘brotherhood’ actually has three definitions:
- The relationship between brothers
- The feeling of kinship with and closeness to a group of people or all people
- An association or community of people linked by a common interest, religion or trade.
It is this third idea that is most important today.
In our passage this morning, Jesus is teaching. A large crowd has gathered, and his family are outside wanting to speak to him. You can imagine them trying to force their way through the gathered throng, trying to get to Jesus, but being pushed back by others desperate to hear what Jesus has to say. They manage to get a message through to Jesus – “tell him we want a word, will you.” They probably expected Jesus to pause, leave the building, and to head out to meet them. But he doesn’t! He’s teaching the crowd – something that he believed was a fundamental part of his mission. It was important to him that he was able to continue teaching the crowd.
His response to the person who passed on his message is interesting. He asks, “who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” I can imagine the messenger being a little confused by this response! Maybe he started to say something like, “those people waiting for you outside!” or maybe he just shrugged in confusion.
Jesus then pointed to his disciples and told the messenger, “here are my mother and my brothers.” Here, then, is the ‘association or community of people linked by a common interest, religion or trade’. At times we might read about the actions of the disciples and wonder why they were so slow, why they failed to grasp the true identity of Jesus, or why they let Jesus down so often. Maybe Jesus felt this way at times. But ultimately, they are his followers. They share Jesus’ mission. They’ve invested their lives in following him, sharing his message of hope with others, helping people to understand that the Messiah has come, and that Jesus is that Messiah. I can’t imagine that there’s a much closer bond than that!
What’s more, when Jesus points at the disciples, we too can be included in that group. We too can number ourselves amongst Jesus’ brothers – and sisters. Jesus says that, “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
If we do the will of God, we too can join that special family of Christ.
But how do we do the will of God? Primarily be striving to be more like Christ, to follow his teachings, to live a life that honours him, and to put him first in all that we do and every decision we take. Reading and studying the Word of God as found in the Bible will be a huge help here, since by doing so we can uncover exactly how God wants us to live.
One verse that summarises this all really clearly is to be found in the Old Testament, in the book of Micah:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.Micah 6:8
What is the will of God? For us to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Much more could be written about this, but these Bible Notes are supposed to be brief!
Perhaps I’ll leave that with you to reflect on today.
Just think how wonderful it is to be a brother or sister of Christ!
Question for reflection: What does it mean to you to “act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God?” How might you do this in the days, weeks and months ahead?
This post was originally published in my Bible Notes email. To receive this directly in your inbox signup below: