As my wife and I have begun the journey of family building — getting married, nesting into our home, walking through the baby section at department stores — I have been remarkably struck by the seemingly loose definition Jesus uses to describe His family.
“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” — Matthew 12:50, NIV
Trying to wrap my head around this, I thought about how I would respond if I were James (Jesus’ brother), hearing Jesus say,
“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” — Matthew 12:48, NIV
My first thought is, I’d be a little insulted. I mean, at this point Jesus was getting some serious attention from some pretty important people … and He virtually disowned me. I thought for sure I would get a little recognition. I’m His brother, after all.
A Far Better, Eternal Family
Then I backed up and looked at this with a wide-angle lens.
Jesus is the Son of God before he was James’ brother. He is part of an eternal family — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — the family of God.
Not only that, but Scripture says God the Father adopts new people into His family through Jesus (see Ephesians 1:5).
When we receive the Holy Spirit, Jesus says we are reborn (see John 3:6-7).
It began to click. Jesus was building an eternal family — one that James would eventually be part of once he had the eyes to see it.
Opening the Family Fortress to the Least
If Jesus, the perfect, holy, eternal Son of God, could tell meager fishermen and conniving tax collectors, “I’m not ashamed to call you brothers” (see Hebrews 2:11), then why am I so protective of my family fortress?
Consider the orphan. Or maybe just the kid whose parents work all the time and still can’t send him to school. He rummages around the streets during the day, looking for scraps of food behind restaurants. Or she hurries behind the building when she sees that strange man who has taken some of her friends and hasn’t brought them back.
These kids are stressed out, fearful and lonely. They need the family of God to love, protect and provide for them.
What if they could say,
“Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother”?
The Family of God, Extended
These kids are my family through the gospel. That is why Jesus is so disgusted with those who turn their eyes from their hungry, thirsty, naked and sick brothers and sisters in Matthew 26:7:
“As you did not do it to one of the least of these [my brothers], you did not do it to me.”
When we, adopted members of the family of God, sponsor, visit, love, write, protect, speak up for, adopt and foster these children in our own families, we are living out the gospel.
We are doing the will of our Father in heaven, and Jesus calls us brothers and sisters.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jordan Mogck writes for the blog familia Dei | Missional Family in the Life of the Trinity. He and his wife live in Minneapolis, Minn., where they lead a Community Group and the Community Service Team at Antioch Community Church.
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