You’re a good good father / it’s who You are / it’s who You are…/ And I’m loved by You / it’s who I am / it’s who I am… – Chris Tomlin, Good Good Father, from the 2016 album “Never Lose Sight”
I grew up loving Greek mythology. There was something to the stories of various gods, each with their particular station in life, reaching down and impacting human existence. It tended to be a family affair. You had Zeus, the chief god, brother to Hades and Neptune, and father to Aries and Apollo. I found it fascinating how the ancient Greeks explained the unexplainable in nature and the world around them. They invented the original comic book heroes.
The Hebrew God, Yahweh, also utilized family dynamics, with Jesus being introduced as the Son. Matthew emphasizes the familial relationship angle at the end of chapter 12. The Christ is teaching when Mary, his earthly mother, and his step-brothers show up outside, wanting to speak with Him. You see, the crowd listening to Jesus is so large, his earthly family cannot navigate their way through to reach Him.
When He receives word that his family is waiting outside and wants a word with Him, the Christ turns to the crowd and says, “’Who is my mother? Who is my brother?’ Then He pointed to His disciples and said, ‘Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!’” (v. 48-50).
Remember, this is THE virgin Mary He is referring to in this statement. Ouch. I don’t know how she reacted as Matthew doesn’t record that aspect, but if I were her I’d be a bit hurt by that statement. I’d think, ‘Wait a minute! I carried you in my womb for nine months! I raised you! Bandaged your boo-boos as a little boy! I wiped your tears! What do you mean by these other people are your family?’
Mark (3:31-35) and Luke (8:19-21) also include this event. “Jesus’ family did not yet fully understand His ministry [see Mark 3:21]”. “[He] explained that in our spiritual family, the relationships are ultimately more important and longer lasting than those formed in our physical families” (Study Bible, p. 1623). In Luke, Jesus replies “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it” (v. 21).
But Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful and He wasn’t denying His responsibility to His earthly family. “On the contrary, He criticized the religious leaders for not following the Old Testament command to honor their parents (15:1-9). He provided for His mother’s security while He hung on the cross (John 19:25-27). His mother and brothers were present in the upper room at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Instead, Jesus was pointing out that spiritual relationships are as binding as physical ones, and He was paving the way for a new community of believers (the universal church), our spiritual family” (Study Bible, p. 1568). “In our increasingly computerized, impersonal world warm relationships among members of God’s family take on major importance” (Study Bible, p. 1623).
It also means that anyone has the potential to join the family. In Greek mythology, you had to be sired by a god to be included. Not so with Yahweh. All you have to be is willing to follow Him. There’s no DNA ancestry test required. No secret ritual to follow. You don’t have to make a financial contribution to your local church or diocese. You don’t have to wear special undergarments or go on a mission trip. All that is required is to do the will of the Father.
How do we know what that is? Re-read the Sermon on the Mount (5:21-7:27) or at the very least do the opposite of what the Pharisees have been doing (ie: rejecting, disbelieving, doubting, blocking, etc.). The challenge we have is to ask which side we are on. ‘Jesus’ true family is comprised of those who hear and obey his words. Hearing without obeying is not enough…Christ offers us an intimate family relationship with Him (Romans 8:14-16)” (Study Bible, p. 1697). How comforting for those who do not have a great relationship with their earthly family. What an additional blessing for those of us who do. Either way, the ultimate relationship is with the Father and the Son. The question is: Do you know them? You can. It’s easy. Just ask them to be a part of your life. Make it a family affair.
“I am a child of the Father and I know what that means for me / It means I’m loved and I’m spoken for / It means I’m wealthy in heavenly things…/ It means I’m redeemed and forgiven / It means I’m holy and blameless and free” – Cheri Keaggy, Child of the Father, from the 1994 album of the same title.
If you’re already a member of the family, great! The question then becomes are you living in such a way as to attract people to the family? That’s our whole purpose for being here. It’s literally THE reason God doesn’t immediately take us home to be with Him when we accept Jesus as our Savior. It’s the ONLY THING we can’t do in heaven. And it’s not “somebody else’s job”. It belongs to each and every one of us. I’m glad you are in the family, now go live God’s truth to an unbelieving world.