Jesus’ True Family

Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (v. 50).  

- Matthew 12:46–50

Having finished our study of angels and demons, we return to our exposition of Matthew’s gospel wherein Jesus’ supreme authority over the world has been revealed. A descendant of David, our Redeemer had a miraculous birth and was visited by dignitaries from the East (chap. 1–2). Following His baptism, Jesus stared down the Devil, revealed Himself as the fulfillment of God’s law, and performed signs indicating His messianic office (chap. 3–10). These things prove that we cannot be neutral regarding Jesus. We will either become His disciples or stand with Satan and oppose the Son of God (11:1–12:45).

When Jesus’ family comes to speak to Him (v. 46), our Lord proclaims His final authority by telling us whom we must love the most. His response would be irksome to first-century Jews. In a context where family ties trump all else, Jesus says that those who do His Father’s will are His true relatives (vv. 48–50). 

Two significant truths are taught here. First, the followers of Jesus have such intimate fellowship with Him that we are as deeply related to Him as His family. John Calvin comments, “Every one who is regenerated by the Spirit, and gives himself up entirely to God for true justification, is thus admitted to the closest union with Christ, and becomes one with him.”

Second, blood ties are less significant than the bond of faith. Our relationships with other Christians are, in a certain sense, more important than the relationships we have with our relatives. Though we must honor our parents and take care of our families (Eph. 6:1–3; 1 Tim. 5:8), our relationship with family members who die in sin ends at death. The bond between brothers and sisters in Christ lasts forever. Our families according to the flesh are important, but the family of God in Christ is more so. Augustine’s comments on today’s passage illustrate the relative importance of the church of Jesus Christ to the believer: “Mary [the mother of Jesus] is blessed, but the church is greater…. Because [she is] only a limb of the whole body. If she is but a part of the whole body, greater indeed is the body than a limb” (Works of St. Augustine: A Translation for the Twenty-First Century, vol. 3, 3:287–288). 

Coram Deo

What place does the church family have in your life? Do you think it important to know your fellow believers or do you leave worship without meeting new people and talking to old friends? We will be spending eternity with other Christians; therefore, let us get to know them now. This week, go out of your way to meet somebody in your church whom you do not know very well. Consider how your love for other Christians compares to your love of your family.

Passages for Further Study

Deut. 15:7–11
Matthew 5:21–26
Ephesians 1:3–6
1 John 4:7–8

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