“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:50).- Matthew 12:46–50
Again and again, Moses presents us with flawed individuals who nonetheless exhibit the qualities the Lord demands of His people. Abraham demonstrated a greater love for God than for his own son when he was willing to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22:1–18). Our Creator demands great love from us as well (Deut. 6:4–5; Luke 14:26). In giving up his name to the Lord, Jacob showed a willingness to confess himself as a crafty usurper (Gen. 32:22–32). Confession of sin shows that we belong to God (1 John 1:8–9).
Our studies this month have shown how Joseph’s brothers, who started out life as wretched villains (Gen. 37:12–28), became true saints manifesting godly characters. Instead of leaving Simeon behind in Egypt indefinitely, his brothers revealed their love when they returned to secure his freedom (chap. 43). Such love is also a mark of God’s people (1 John 4:7–8). Thus we will spend today and tomorrow looking at what Jesus said about love and discipleship.
First, we will examine love for Christ. Family relationships are probably the best examples of love in God’s world, and so Jesus takes the opportunity to use familial metaphors to depict what it means to love Him in today’s passage. As He speaks to a crowd of people, Mary and His brothers attempt to pull Him away for a special family session. We would expect Him to comply with their demands. After all, they are His flesh and blood and should be the ones who love Him most (Matt. 12:46).
Yet Jesus uses this opportunity to show what it truly means to be those who love Him, that is, to truly be His family. Those who would have the closest relationship with Him are those who obey the will of the Father. They are His “brother and sister and mother” (vv. 48–50). Our Lord is not disparaging His physical kin, nor is He saying we can make ourselves a part of His family by obeying God. Rather, He says that true love for Him is something more than blood ties and is always evident in a life of discipleship. Keeping His commandments does not earn us a place at His table. Nevertheless, we will keep His commandments if we love Him (John 14:15).
Loving faith in Jesus (because He first loved us, 1 John 4:19), not our good works, gives us the right “to become children of God” (John 1:12). Faith alone will justify us in the sight of the Father. Still, the faith that justifies us is never alone; it is always followed by good works that prove our faith is real (James 2:14–26). Today, help stir up others to love and good works (Heb. 10:24) and gather others to do a needed service at your church or in the community.
Passages for Further Study
1 Peter 1:8–9