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Matthew 12:50

For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Family matters

Can you imagine your adult son or daughter declaring that some group of people is his or her true family? The problem is that we can. It would hurt deeply, but we are a society that values the individual above the group. But what if we lived in a society where family was your identity and family allegiance essential to survival? My senior year of high school I received an offer from the parents of my best friend to move in with them to escape trouble with my stepfather. My mother was profoundly hurt when I told her I wanted to go. It is the thing I most regret from my adolescence. (I didn’t end up moving out.)

Yet here is Jesus. His family has come to gather him. His words and behavior are dangerous. He is so far outside the norms of society that he must either be possessed by the Spirit of God or by a demon – and we know which way the authorities are saying. His life is at stake. So the family comes to protect him, but Jesus turns to the crowd around him and says, “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

So many Christians talk about the supremacy of “family values” – and family matters quite a lot – but Jesus sweeps it away. Our true identity and allegiance are with those who do the will of God: .

It is no small prayer to pray for God’s will to be done. And lest we get confused about the nature of God’s will, Jesus makes it very clear both in his rebuke of the Pharisees:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” (Matthew 23:23)

and in his parable of the final judgment (the sheep and the goats):

‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ (Matthew 25:34-36)