“While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “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” (Matthew 12:46-50).
The other day someone made the statement to me, “We are brothers.” What he meant was, we are fellow believers, and as a result there is a relationship between us grounded in Christ. I agreed and we gave the appropriate man hug with the hit on the back, and then we went our separate ways. This morning while doing my quite time I read the above verse. Jesus raises an interesting point concerning our relationships in Christ. He seems to limit them.
Jesus’ family came looking for Him. His mother and brothers were attempting an intervention. Mom found the brothers and convinced them to put a stop to what Jesus was doing. I think they thought He lost his mind and they were seeking to “speak” with Him about His ministry. His reply is almost shocking. “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” He asked. The normal reply would have been, “Those guys out there with the little old lady who are waiting for you.” But instead Jesus points to those who are actively following Him and says, “Here are my mother and brothers!” He then defines that relationship with great specificity. He says, in effect, “Those who are doing the will of God are those who are my kin.”
Jesus seems to be limiting our relationships in Christ to those who are in fact doing the will of God by following Him. A brother in Christ is limited to those who are traveling down the same road with Jesus. A brother (or sister) in Christ is not one who simply believes in Jesus, then goes their own way. Nor are they the crowd of people who followed Jesus because He healed them or made them a meal (cf. John 6:1-12; 26). There were many people who followed Christ to get something from Him. In John’s gospel He turns to a very large crowd of people who are following Him because he did something for them, and then makes a statement about eating His flesh and drinking His blood – and, wonder of wonders, most walk away from Him. Jesus isn’t interested in believers who are in it for their own benefit. He is interested in followers who do the will of God.
A person who believes in Jesus and then acts on that belief in following Christ are those who are first, in a relationship with Jesus; then, second, they are those who are our spiritual kin – our brothers and sisters in Christ. Many people claim belief in Jesus. And it is certainly the case that we are called to believe. But many who believe are not following. Jesus made some interesting statements in this regard:
- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
- “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? (Luke 6:46).
- “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26)
Following Jesus is doing the will of God. Notice those who claim belief, but Jesus points out that they are not doing the will of God. Notice that others call Him Lord, but he says, despite that claim, they are not doing what He tells them to do. He then says, a servant MUST follow him.
Many people want to claim some sort of relationship with Christ. They say to Him, “Lord, Lord.” But Jesus makes it clear that those who are in a relationship with Him are following Him. It behooves us to ask the question: Does my belief in Jesus lead me to follow Jesus? The answer to that question has eternal significance.