But he answered them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."
Jesus came to bring God followers into His family. He was so motivated by this vision for reconciliation of mankind with the Father that He was compelled to describe these people as the real family to whom He belonged. This lesson should not get lost as some hard saying of Jesus. He did not feel contempt for His earthly mother and brothers. But He knew the real relationship existed with His heavenly Father. And those who obeyed the Word of God and lived it were God’s children’s. That made them real family.
It is faith in Christ that creates real kinship in the kingdom. If this was true for Jesus, it is also true for us… disciples live by the Word of God and evidence it in obedience. That change makes a fundamental difference and is the spiritual DNA that binds together the family of God in Christ. If I want to be close to Jesus, I need to be an obedient disciple. Following Christ by following the Word is the key to showing the family resemblance.
Sometimes the American evangelical church has misunderstood the role of the family. We have at times fostered a “family-olatry” that is disturbing to observe. It excludes single people from the body life of the church when all they hear are messages on parenting, marriage, or the home. After all, Jesus was single. How many marriage conferences did He attend? And He is the one who draws us all together.
I know why we have done this. American culture is ravaging the family as God designed it. But making the human family all that the church concentrates upon is not the answer. It starts with people as messed up as they are, but who are redeemed by the transforming grace of God. Then it teaches them what God says in His Word so that they can personally grow close to Jesus. The answer is to build individual disciples who are part of a bigger family… people about whom Jesus would unashamedly proclaim: “These are my mother and my sisters and my brothers.”